Within the rapid advancement of technologies, there has been a rapid increase in the demand for creative ideas from employees. Even multinational companies such as Google are looking to harness the creativity of their staff. They have established a new policy which allows their developers to spend twenty percent of their working day on ideas and side projects. This is an attempt to allow employees time and freedom to innovate. To date, Google have found this policy working well, with a number of successful Google products such as Google News resulting from this innovation.
Creativity is controversial, with some believing the skill can be taught and developed while others believe it is a trait you are born with. Whichever approach is correct, a conducive and creative environment is essential to nurture ideas and allow ideas to flow from creative individuals. However, there are a number of practices which can be adopted to actively encourage creativity and innovation in your workplace.
Your employees may already possess the motivation and creativity for innovation and new ideas but have no outlet. While many outspoken employees have the confidence to speak to a manager about their suggestions and ideas, others may be afraid or too shy to do this. Providing an anonymous and confidential outlet such as a suggestion box would allow these employees an outlet to nurture their creativity and inspire their new ideas.
This approach will need to be balanced, as some of the greatest innovations are the result of brainstorming group sessions. These sessions allow a group to discuss or debate possible solutions or ideas for a problem. A private channel for your employees to contribute their ideas may hinder other creative processes. It will also fail to allow innovators to be identified and recognized for their effective ideas, which may provide them with a boost in confidence and creativity. It is a good idea to establish private and public outlets for employee suggestions and ideas to incorporate the positive aspects of both.
2. Rewarding Creativity
Employees often require some form of reward to motivate them to think outside of the box and fuel their creativity. Suggestions must also be received seriously to encourage employees to keep the creative improvement ideas flowing. Failure to do this, will promote an apathetic atmosphere where the employees will feel it wastes their time to create new ideas and suggestions as they will not be implemented anyway.
To begin the process, you could set employee goals to think of ways to improve efficiency in work processes. For example you could task each employee to provide a suggestion by the end of the week and they will be assessed for the best idea. This should be followed by rewarding the employee with the best idea and implementing the suggestion. Rewards could be anything which you judge would motivate your employees best, for example tangible rewards such as a monetary incentive or intangible rewards such as recognition from the company by announcing the winner publicly.
3. Supporting Creativity
It is also important to create an atmosphere of supporting creativity. Many employees may be unwilling to take a risk because they are unsure of the reception their suggestion may receive. It is important to guide your organization and highlight how highly valued creativity it. This will involve how receptive you are to ideas and suggestions, and how you make your intentions known to build a more creative company.
Many employees are often failing to come up with creative solutions because they may be completely different to current practices and they fear the repercussions of making a mistake. It is important to encourage risk taking and establish it as a norm within your organization. Developing creative cultures can take time but it begins with a less judgmental and a more open minded management who are receptive to employee suggestions.
4. Teams of Innovation
To create a more systematic method of promoting creativity, you could also establish innovation teams. Each team should be tasked to come up with suggestions and ideas on how to improve specific work practices. It is important to set deadlines to ensure that the ideas can be presented by the teams and be recognized and rewarded if they supply excellent ideas. When this concept is done correctly, it provides a signal throughout the whole organization that work related creativity is highly valued.
One disadvantage to this approach is that it can be viewed as very deliberate to some of your employees. Creativity is usually spontaneous with truly great ideas springing from a stroke of genius. Establishing these teams may seem like an additional chore for those participating in them while the systematic approach of focusing on a particular aspect may seem too rigid and formal to allow the flourish of creativity.
5. Diverse Employees
It is very difficult to imagine different ideas being exchanged if everyone has the same experiences and similar manners. When employees have comparable qualifications, backgrounds and experiences it creates a working environment which is homogeneous. This can be advantageous for facilitating team bonding, but when considering workplace creativity, uniformity can leave little room for fresh ideas to develop.
To combat this and create a more diverse pool of employees, you might consider relaxing stringent prerequisites of recruiting and permit allowances within your criteria. Hiring staff from different backgrounds and with different knowledge and allowing them to mingle through different projects can have a great impact. You could also organize less formal settings between employee groups with dissimilar characteristics to promote the interchanging of ideas and thoughts.
6. Create a Positive Environment
Sometimes serious mind-sets can impede creativity. Creating a relaxed atmosphere where fun during work is permitted can inspire great ideas. Stressful or depressing work environments don’t provide the motivation to consider doing tasks differently. In these cases, the employees are more focused on simply making it through to the end of the day. Psychological research and studies have demonstrated that a positive mood can boost creativity.
A positive mood can create greater flexibility in thought processes with wider perspectives. People become more open minded and have the motivation to explore alternative approaches. Incorporating fun into the work atmosphere is a great way to foster this enthusiasm. Team bonding retreats or activities can be crucial to increasing positivity and creating an injection of creativity into your workplace.
What is your personal experience on the subject?