Regardless of industry, companies that thrive also tend to be those whose employees are creative thinkers. Luckily, you don’t need to necessarily identify creative thinkers during the hiring process to cultivate such a workforce. You can instead focus on developing the type of company culture that allows creativity and innovation to flourish naturally.
Keep in mind, along with helping your organization remain competitive and profitable, instilling a culture of creativity will often boost engagement. This reduces turnover and improves overall productivity. The following tips will help. If you want to inspire your employees to think and work creatively, make a point of applying them.
Focus on Diversity
Research consistently indicates promoting diversity in the workforce yields numerous rewards for organizations. Helping a company develop a culture of innovation is one of them.
People’s life experiences play a role in shaping their ways of thinking. Thus, when all the team members have had similar life experiences, their thinking will tend to run parallel. This doesn’t allow for an environment where creative ideas get shared. On the other hand, when a workforce consists of diverse voices, it benefits from a wider range of perspectives.
Many people find it difficult to think creatively at work if their schedules are rigid. When employees all need to show up at the same time, leave at the same time, and complete their daily tasks in a pre-established order every single day, they can’t shift to innovative mindsets. Some people work better very early in the morning or later in the evening. Others find they are more productive when they are comfortable at home.
That’s why you may want to allow for a certain degree of flexibility in scheduling. Letting employees choose when they come in or choose whether to work from home or the office (to a reasonable extent) can make them more comfortable—and thus, more likely to be productive and think creatively.
Embracing flexibility shouldn’t prevent your workers from completing essential projects. It’s important to monitor the results of this experiment to determine if it’s effective. Fortunately, organizations that do offer employees flexible scheduling options tend to enjoy greater engagement and productivity.
People don’t develop creativity in a vacuum. They need the tools and resources to help them foster their creative sides. Remember this when planning how to develop a company culture that promotes creativity. Offering your employees training and resources can help them unleash creative sides of their personalities even they might not have known existed.
For example, sending employees to industry conferences can expose them to new ideas and current trends that can spark creativity and change. Hiring speakers to give on-site training specifically adapted for your company is another possibility. Tuition reimbursement programs for employees interested in pursuing a graduate degree or certificate is yet another possibility.
A company culture doesn’t change simply because you intend it to. Employee behavior plays as much a role in changing a company culture as your own strategies. If employees don’t change the way they think and work, the culture will remain stagnant. You may need to change the way you approach certain tasks.
Specifically, you can experiment with creative approaches. These experiments can include activities like free association or having employees work in small groups with colleagues from other departments; ensuring that the office has comfortable furniture and outdoor access; offering private rooms and collaborative spaces without assigned seating for impromptu group work; and hosting casual get-to-know-you events, whether during work hours or as optional after-hours events.
Google is well-known for allocating a set portion of employee work hours for individual passion projects. An employee of office supply company 3M got the idea for the Post-It Note during company-mandated free time. Campbell’s came up with its Chunky Soup line during a word association game. Microsoft holds companywide science fairs. Taco Bell holds an employee art show.
Your company may not be able to afford a cafeteria with free food or standing desks for every employee, but meetings can take place on walks around the building or outdoors instead of in offices or conference rooms. Employees can be given leeway to decorate their spaces or put on headphones and listen to music that inspires them. Simply promoting autonomy and discouraging micromanagement so that employees can work in whatever way is most productive for them can help your company foster a culture of creativity.
Industries are always changing. The only way for companies to stay relevant when shifts occur is to adapt. These are much more likely to do so effectively when their cultures promote creative thinking.