The Manager’s Guide to Fostering Creativity in the Workplace

by / Thursday, 31 December 2015 / Published in Business Administration and Management

Illustration of businesspeople at a conference table

Given the rapid pace and competitive nature of the business world, companies are highly interested in innovations that will set them apart. Is fostering creativity the answer? Managers have the opportunity to take the lead and explore ways to make their workplace ideal for creative thinking and sparking innovation.

 

The Benefits of a Creative Workplace

Many companies boast about being innovative and creative, and most are in some way, shape or form. But if this were actually true, companies would be gaining far more of the benefits of a creative workplace. Best Practice Consulting, an organizational consulting firm, explains three key benefits.

 

 Better Teamwork and Team Bonding

Creativity inspires employees to work with each other. As they have new ideas, they seek out colleagues for their feedback. By design, the creative process encourages collaboration, and this is the most important benefit of offering a workplace where creative thinking can occur.

Team bonding also helps the overall engagement among employees. Interactions are more likely among co-workers, even those who do not work together regularly. An increased level of comfort in a team is a positive for any organization.

 Improved Ability to Attract and Retain Employees

By developing an environment where creative minds are welcome, companies can attract more talented professionals. They are able to fill positions more effectively and efficiently. A similar effect occurs with current employees, who are more likely to stay on board because of the creative environment. They become content with their job and commit to remaining with the company long term.

 Increased Problem-solving

Certainly, the most important aspect of creativity is how it affects the work. With the ability to think creatively and outside the box, employees are more likely to come up with unique and innovative solutions to obstacles they encounter. This eagerness to solve problems can lead to new ways to accomplish tasks and run the organization more effectively.

 

The Mechanics Behind Workplace Creativity

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It’s easy to understand why employees like workplace creativity. Being creative can be fun, so it’s more enjoyable to work in that kind of environment. However, research and experts have identified specific reasons why a creative workplace is so beneficial.

Creativity and Productivity

It’s no secret that business leaders seek greater productivity. In many ways, creativity can boost productivity. Boland Jones, the CEO of Web-based collaboration software firm PGi, explains that the two can be very closely related. “I believe that creativity leads to productivity, provided that the workplace environment is developed and nurtured in a way that allows the two to peacefully co-exist,” Jones wrote in Entrepreneur.

Jones describes a creative workplace as “a place without boundaries, and where the methodologies and processes of last year can be forgotten in an instant.” He finds that a workplace without boundaries allows employees to be free to question and to avoid “unproductive ruts.” By focusing on the big picture, employees become emotionally invested in their work and less fearful of failure.

The Role of Psychology

Psychologists have studied the benefits of a creative workplace. By promoting creativity, companies allow employees to establish psychological distance from their problems. This phenomenon explains why it’s easier to give friends advice than solve your own problems; the issue isn’t occurring in the present and affecting you.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that increasing spatial distance between individuals and problems boosts creativity and productivity. Because creative workplaces allow employees to look at larger problems, they experience more psychological distance and can think of more innovative solutions.

 

Companies Committed to Creativity

For some companies, investing in creativity and innovation can pay off in a huge way. It’s no coincidence that some of the most successful and well-known companies are among the most innovative. Here are three companies that have committed to a creative workplace, yielding big results.

 

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Google

Google is renowned for its commitment to creativity. The work environment includes a relaxed campus and plentiful space for collaboration, plus a long list of perks meant to keep workers inspired.

 

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Airbnb

The leaders of the shared economy revolution offer employees a community atmosphere that placed Airbnb first among Glassdoor’s annual ranking of “Best Places to Work.” With a focus on allowing employees to learn from different teams and switch departments and roles more easily, Airbnb encourages workers to always look at issues with new ideas.

 

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HubSpot

Marketing software company HubSpot boasts an innovative and transparent company culture focused on employee growth. Employees are encouraged to make important decisions and are offered several opportunities for professional development both inside and outside the company.

How to Foster Creativity as a Manager

Lightbulb above business conference table

Making the workplace a space ripe for creativity has plenty of benefits and can lead to serious success. But exactly how can managers go about fostering creativity? Leaders hoping to inspire innovation among employees should consider these tips.

 

 Encourage Both Individualism and Teamwork

The strange thing about collaboration is that both individuality and unselfishness are needed to proceed. It’s important that managers not only encourage team bonding and collaborative work but also ensure that employees not check their individuality at the door. Many unique ideas come from just one person but are molded by a team to become fully formed.

 Never Say No

The brainstorming process can be delicate and complicated, especially when a large team is working together to find a strong solution. In these settings, it’s easy to make quick judgments about an idea, dismissing it as unsuitable. Instead of allowing negativity to stymie growth, encourage positive and additive feedback. The phrase “yes and …” can go a long way and help the entire team contribute better ideas.

 Diversify Your Team

One easy and quick way to build a more creative workplace is to add a variety of perspectives, insights and learning styles to accelerate problem-solving. The so-called Medici effect posited by author Frans Johansson suggests that diverse teams are more likely to generate innovative ideas thanks to the different ways people approach a problem.


Become a Leader Who Champions Creativity

While creativity can be a great tool for business leaders in search of new approaches to existing problems, it can be a difficult culture to spread in any workplace. With a clear understanding of the strategies that encourage creativity and innovation, managers can foster growth among employees and teams. Touro University Worldwide offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and psychology, including industrial and organizational psychology, that can help professionals achieve the workplace creativity they seek. Learn more about our fully online programs today.