How to spark creativity in the workplace
As the country waits out the winter, patience with what feels like a never-ending deep freeze is not the only thing in dwindling supply. If you’ve noticed a growing sense of inertia among your employees, it could be that winter has simply overtaken them, and they are literally frozen in place. Or it could be a case of extended winter blahs has created a brain freeze. If that’s the case, now would be a good time to focus on ways you can restart some creative fires, and rewarm their motivation and inspiration (if not their actual cold, cold hands.)
Why is creativity important to your business? In business – as in life – if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you will keep getting the same results. And that’s hardly a recipe for success in an ever-changing marketplace where innovation has become a key currency.
That said, creativity is a funny beast. You can’t force creativity to happen. But you can develop a work environment that not only invites creative thinking, but inspires it in your employees.
So how can you make your workplace a haven of innovation and inspiration?
- Encourage collaboration. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. People working together, in real-time and in real-life, creates an energy you could never get from emails or by working alone in a silo. Schedule time for employees to brainstorm and feed off each other’s new ideas.
- Brainstorm with structure. As above, the good ideas come from collaboration. But a fact of brainstorming is that an idea brought up at the beginning of a meeting will receive more attention than one that’s mentioned later on, whether or not it deserves that attention. Have your employees do a little personal brainstorming ahead of time so when they come together, they can put all their ideas on the table for discussion.
- Create a flexible workplace . Creativity often strikes on its own time, not necessarily during scheduled meeting times or within office hours. Encourage your employees to think outside the box by quite literally letting them work outside the box, where they may not feel so confined or pressured to spark a great idea in a limited timeframe.
- Feel free to fail. Any fruitful brainstorming session will produce at least as many duds as award winners. If you don’t create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing all their ideas, you may not hear about their amazing ones. And if you run with an idea that sounds good but still fails, embrace that too. When you fail, you’re forced to explore new perspectives -- and that leads to more creativity and, hopefully, innovative new ideas.
- Play! Sitting around a table in a windowless boardroom is not the stuff that sparks creativity. You know how sometimes your best ideas come when you’re in the shower? I’m not suggesting you go off to share soap with your staff, but taking a break from actively thinking and doing something fun can do wonders. Hit the mini-golf course or take a field trip to an escape room. Removing yourself from a stale office environment and away from the task at hand can be just the trick your staff needs to conjure up the next big thing.