While not every company aspires to innovate, every company would nevertheless benefit from increased creativity in the workplace. Whether it ends up revolutionizing your product line, improving your supply chain’s efficiency, or simply boosting your office’s morale, innovation in the workplace should not only be welcome but encouraged. Instead of waiting for the lightning of creativity to strike where you’re working, here are six ways you can inspire creativity and innovation in your team.
- Reward It
When you want to see more of something in your workforce and workplace, don’t just ask for it; incentivize it. As many experts who speak about innovation have noted, rewarding your team for creative ideas puts them on the fast track to increased innovation. Instead of putting their heads down and going about their tasks like drones on a routine mission, the idea and promise of a reward can spark interest and curiosity. Far too often, productivity is the measure by which every employee is judged and rewarded. While this can certainly inspire your team to work harder, it will rarely make them work smarter. Make creativity a reason for reward, and innovation will follow.
- Make Space for It
Similar to offering a reward for it, changing the culture of the workplace so that space is made for employees to take chances at being creative will open up the door to greater innovation. When workers have to perform at a breakneck pace just to get their work done each day, there’s simply no room to ponder and wonder about the ways in which they’re going about their work. Loosen the pace and lighten the load a bit. Giving your employees breathing room – with the express intention of encouraging creativity – may be just the thing to inspire them to find new paths, products, and services.
- Ditch Criticism
Criticism is a creativity crusher, and if you want to flush creativity out into the open, you’re going to have to make sure criticism is nowhere to be found – not just with you and the rest of your management team but in your employees as well. Start preaching – and practising – an open-mindedness and hospitality that encourages ideas and innovations of all kinds. From the simplicity of an online comment portal to whole afternoons spent brainstorming, once your people’s gears start turning in a creatively tuned direction without meeting any negativity, you’ll be amazed at what they come up with.
- Get HR on Board
The individuals who work for you have a lot to do with how creative your workplace is, which makes it imperative that you get HR on board in hiring. Have HR ask questions of potential hires that seek out more creative thinkers and doers. Whether you specifically target people who have an arts-, dance- or music-related background, or you just inquire as to the ways in which someone has brought creativity into jobs or projects in the past, having your HR staff look for employees who are already practiced at innovation and creation will transform your company into a place where innovation is second nature.
- Reduce Work-Related Stress
Stress can kill creativity almost as fast as criticism, and almost every worker in America is operating under some aspect of it. As much as you’re able, banish work-related stress from your workplace. How do you go about pulling that off? Here are a handful of ideas:
- Competitively compensate your team. When people are worried about money, creativity is too much of a luxury to engage in.
- Grant time off. From paid vacation to sick leave, let your employees know their physical and mental health is valuable.
- Consider flextime. Whether they have small children or could just use a day off each week from a lengthy commute, letting your employees work with a flexible schedule can dramatically reduce their stress.
- Be Kind
Perhaps the simplest path to inspiring innovation in your employees is to practice kindness in all your interactions with them. Opening one’s self up to offer new insights or ideas to someone who has power over your employment is a difficult thing to do, and most workers in the U.S. won’t have had much practice doing it. With a boss or manager who exhibits consistent and reliable kindness, however, the employees will feel safer to risk being innovative. Be kind, and creativity will have a reason to come out of hiding.
Inspiring innovation is possible. Make it a priority with these six tips, and you’ll be surprised at the ways your workplace and employees transform.
Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.