Spurring employee creativity helps develop a team of people who can put their heads together and come up with original suggestions. Workers are often cocooned by the parameters of their job descriptions, to the point that they no longer know how to be creative.
Help employees rediscover creativity by providing an environment for ideas.
Some employees thrive in brainstorming sessions where they can voice their ideas in a public forum. Not all have the confidence to do so, however, so it’s necessary for the business to provide a private forum for suggestions.
Allow staff to submit their proposals anonymously, if necessary; this also enables them to avoid spending more time on the presentation than the actual idea, out of fear of how it will reflect on them.
A homogeneous group of employees is unlikely to come up with radical ways of doing anything. If staff come mostly from similar backgrounds, education, qualifications and experience, it leaves little room for the birth of ideas. Diversity is a popular business strategy, which focuses on hiring people with different knowledge and cultures and encourage staff to look for dissimilarities when choosing team for specific projects.
Lower cubicle walls and encourage employees to chat, brainstorm and help one another during the work day. Create opportunities for employees to mix freely and informally outside the work environment, through activities such as:
- Team building events
- Company retreats
- Casual dinners
These and other options offer the chance for workers to engage with each other and build rapport. Social or volunteer events are good ways to make mixing fun while achieving the objective.
Provide an environment in which staff members who offer suggestions can expect the company to be receptive. By showing that creativity is highly valued, employees who are risk-averse can be encouraged to speak out without fear of repercussion if they make a mistake. Develop a culture in which risk-taking is supported, management is open-minded and executives are non-judgmental to suggestions.
The legendary office environment at Google’s headquarters has employees playing roller hockey in the parking lot, using slides to travel from one level to another and enjoying fitness classes and massage therapy during working hours. Even for successful small businesses it might be a tall order to measure up to that standard, but it’s not necessary to emulate the search giant to create an inspiring workplace. Give employees outlets to refresh their minds, such as onsite relaxation facilities or the opportunity to pursue outside interests during work time.
Take Suggestions Seriously
Nothing is more demotivating for an employee than offering ideas and suggestions that are ignored. Make a point of reviewing every submission whether it has merit or not, and always respond to the proposer regardless of the idea’s acceptance. For anonymous submissions, respond publicly unless the proposer asks to have it kept private.
Give Real Rewards
Offer rewards for ideas that are implemented. These could include recognition in the form of an announcement to the full team, a monetary incentive, a shopping voucher or a travel opportunity. Few employees are likely to spend time formulating and submitting suggestions without any reward. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to happen. Build the rewards into the business’s financial plan for effective forecasting.
By having the opportunity to be creative employees experience a greater sense of buy-in, which leads to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.