When we think about innovation, we imagine inventing amazing products or coming up with game-changing ideas, right?
Ever since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations worldwide have realized that constant innovation is the key to success and survival.
A well-thought-out serving of creativity with a generous side of innovation can spruce productivity and efficiency in any workplace. Read on to find out some strategies to encourage creativity and innovation.
What Exactly is Creativity?
Let’s be real—creativity need not always mean those “out of the box” exceptional ideas that break barriers. Not all companies are built to accommodate larger-than-life ideas.
From Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken:
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.
So, does that mean creativity has no place in an organization like a bank or a pharma company? Absolutely not! Creating a culture of creativity and innovation at the workplace need not be restricted to only a certain set of organizations.
The importance of creativity and innovation in the workplace cannot be denied. Creativity stems from a free flow of discussion and brainstorming when employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and share their thoughts. An increased level of collaboration can, in turn, level up the business.
Creativity and innovation in the workplace are the by-products of the solution generation process. Unforeseen problems often necessitate creative solutions; for example, the pandemic demanded organizations go completely virtual and introduced a total work-from-home culture.
So now that we have established that these two ingredients are needed to generate effective solutions, how to promote creativity in the workplace?
Here are some examples of creativity and innovation in the workplace:
How to Encourage Creativity in the Workplace?
1. Creativity immersion
Employees cannot always be expected to work round the clock with blinkers on to avoid distractions. To fuel creativity and innovation in the workplace, it is essential to be surrounded by creative minds.
Hence, rather than frowning upon employees when they check their social media now and then, it would make more sense to have dedicated social media hours to listen to podcasts and browse online content. Who knows, they might come up with ideas for innovation in the workplace.
2. Perks and rewards
Well, it’s not ALL about the money, but yes, to a great extent, rewards and recognition have a way of fuelling creativity like no other source. It’s just the way it is, and the sooner organizations realize it, the better.
Of course, a good recognition program needs to be supplemented by other methods, and that’s what this article is all about.
3. No boundaries
It is necessary to move away from the “this is how it has always been done” mentality. Don’t discourage an employee because their train of thought does not leave the conventional idea station. All opinions must be welcomed aboard.
4. Provide full ownership
It is often seen that when employees are given full ownership of a project from beginning to end, the results turn out to be unexpectedly good. This means no micromanagement, no frequent follow-ups, and check-ins.
When employees are given the freedom to be fully invested in something, their loyalty increases, and they are more likely to take full ownership and be genuinely vying for success.
5. Good ol’ brainstorming
Some methods are re-iterated because they work! Brainstorming is one of them. The whole concept of brainstorming generates a free flow of thoughts and a chain of ideas wherein one person picks up from where the other left off.
It not only fuels creativity but also encourages collaboration between the team members. Team spirit for the win!
6. Feedback/suggestion box—one for the introverts!
Not everyone likes to take center stage. Some like to work, tucked away in a corner quietly. Just how you can’t ask an extrovert to sit down quietly, an introvert can’t be expected to stand up and fire away suddenly. Being mindful of personalities at the workplace is an underrated practice that needs to be done more often.
Everyone has ideas; it’s just a matter of sourcing them accurately. Setting up Anonymous feedback tools or suggestion boxes is an idea to take stock from those who might not be too comfortable speaking up. The added layer of anonymity further encourages inputs.
7. Idea hoarding
Surplus is (mostly) good, and this is applicable in the case of ideas too. Instead of rejecting ideas, start saving them for future requirements; that’s how you create a ready repository of ideas.
New solutions can be created by merging old ideas since anything can be an inspiration. Encourage employees to bookmark interesting links and take screenshots of creative renditions. You never know what might create a spark later on.
8. Bureaucracy is a no-no
Bureaucracy, or the presence of stringent rules, can make the execution of any idea extremely difficult. This can, in turn, hinder innovative thinking since employees start regarding execution as a futile exercise. It is even more challenging to stimulate creativity when employees disagree with certain archaic processes.
Hence, it might make sense to analyze the current processes at play in an organization and whether they can be simplified to channelize creativity.
9. Replace toxicity with psychological safety
No matter how much effort you put in to create a positive work environment, it can all become redundant with the presence of one toxic person. Toxic people can threaten the psychological safety of other employees.
Employees feel psychologically safe only when they can work without fear or undue stress in a fair environment. It is important to identify and replace such toxic employees for the greater good.
10. Diversity and inclusion
It’s a commonly accepted fact that diversity and innovation at the workplace are closely related. A demographically diverse employee force is more likely to develop creative and innovative ideas based on their own experiences.
Different people have different perspectives, and a culmination of unique perspectives is likely to lead to a more fool-proof idea with a mass appeal.
It is essential to realize that creativity and innovation cannot be forced; they can only be facilitated. The above-listed ideas contribute to this effort when applied sincerely and diligently.