Every business and industry is being transformed. We are all re-imagining every part of what we do, make and sell. In this age of technological disruption, competition is fierce and to succeed it’s essential to create an environment where employees are encouraged and motivated to make their most creative ideas a reality. And quickly!!
Employers need to unleash the ideas of their best talent and employees want to be listened to, recognized, valued and challenged. This comes up time and again when we read about the expectations of millennials in the workplace, but this is no longer a generational issue. Meeting this creative challenge is all about employee engagement. This makes all the difference. Companies need to ensure individuals’ voices are heard and that their best ideas are actioned.
So, how do you make it easy for employees to stand out and make a difference in an organization with many thousands of colleagues, across dozens of departments, and in multiple countries?
Developing a strategy to unlock the innovative ideas within our organizations is essential for success against this backdrop of radical change. It is also key for retaining the best talent.
If you want to get employees to think out-of-the-box, you need to motivate them with some form of rewards. Moreover, suggestions have to be taken seriously so that employees are willing to come up with more creative ways of improving the workplace. Otherwise, everyone will think it’s a waste of time to squeeze out creative juices for suggestions that won’t be implemented anyway.
To kick-start things up, you can set goals for your employees to think up of some ways of making work processes more efficient. Perhaps each employee can be tasked to provide one suggestion by the end of each week and you’ll assess which idea is the best. This will be followed with a reward for the employee and equally important, implementation. The reward can be tangible ones like giving monetary incentives, or intangible ones like recognition from the organization by announcing the winner to the rest.
Help Building Innovation Teams
A more systematic way of promoting creativity in the workplace is to set up innovation teams. Each innovation team will be tasked to come up with ideas on how to improve the work process of a particular aspect. Deadlines are to be set to ensure that the teams present their ideas and be rewarded if they are excellent. When done properly, this will signal to everyone that the organization values work-related creativity.
One catch is that such innovation teams may be seen as too ‘deliberate’ to some employees. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous; ideas arising from the strokes of genius. Having such teams may make it seem like an extra chore for those assigned to them, and the systematic approach may come across as too rigid for creativity to flourish.
Employees may be unwilling to take risks because they do not know whether the organization supports creativity. This is when you need to guide the organization in the right direction, and show that creativity is highly valued. This has a lot to do with how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you make known your intention to be a more creative company.
One reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with solutions that are vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organization. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgmental to the suggestions by employees.
Foster Diversity Among Employees
How can different ideas exchange if everyone thinks in a similar manner? Employees with comparable backgrounds, qualifications, experience, etc create a homogeneous working environment. Perhaps having such homogeneity between the employees will facilitate team-bonding and such, but when it comes to workplace creativity, a uniform and agreeable crowd leaves little room for ideas to flourish.
Rather than setting stringent recruitment prerequisites, you might consider giving more allowance in your criteria. Hire staffs from different knowledge and background and get them to mingle around in projects and even company events. Organize more informal settings between employees with dissimilar profiles for the interchanging of thoughts.
Enable a Positive Working Environment
Sometimes, too serious a mindset can hinder creativity. Having fun at work allows one to be relaxed and that’s where one tends to get inspired with wonderful ideas. Needless to say, a stressful or even depressing work environment doesn’t give one the mood to think of doing things differently. The employee would only look forward to the end of the day.
Psychological studies have revealed that positive mood can spur creativity. The idea is that positive mood awards us with greater flexibility in thinking because our perspectives are widened. We become more open-minded in that sense and are willing to explore alternatives. Knowing such findings now, incorporating fun into the work through team-bonding activities or retreats every once in a while can be a crucial element in injecting creativity in the workplace.
How’s your company facing these challenges? Are your employees excited when they get in in the morning? Leave us a comment in the section below!