Why Is Creativity Important at Work and How Do You Build It?
Updated March 21, 2023
Creativity is a soft skill, but it's important for employees at every level of a company. Creativity helps with problem-solving and innovation, and can unify teams to achieve common goals. Understanding what creativity is at work and why it's important can help you learn to apply it in your job, inspire others to use it in their work, and foster more innovation. In this article, we answer the question, 'Why is creativity important at work?", explore what creativity at work might look like, and explain how to develop more creativity at work.
Why is creativity important at work?
To answer the question, "Why is creativity important at work?", it's important to understand what creativity is and the benefits it provides. Creativity is a skill you can learn and improve throughout your career, and it's an ability that can be useful in almost any occupation. It's the ability to think of original ideas or use your imagination to create new, innovative ways to solve problems or to improve older methods. Being creative allows you to apply problem-solving and critical thinking skills to a problem with your unique perspective and ideas. Here are some benefits of creativity at work:
Building better teams
Creativity is important because it can help organizations build more effective, trusting teams. Teams depend on each other to solve problems and perform certain tasks, and when creativity improves their efficiency, quality, or productivity, they can have better relationships with coworkers. The team knows they can depend on their teammates to perform their duties and also to create unique solutions to problems. This level of trust can improve the team's work quality and inspire them to work harder to reach team-specific goals in the workplace.
Attracting better talent to the business
With a culture focused on creativity, businesses may also benefit from more qualified job candidates and genuine talent in the industry. This type of culture can allow employees to explore new methods for doing tasks or improve the old systems, giving them more control over their work environment and the freedom to express themselves. It can also help build a more positive and supportive environment to work in, which is something candidates typically consider before applying for a job. Some companies even reward creative ideas with time off, monetary bonuses, or company-wide recognition.
Improved problem-solving skills
Many employers require problem-solving skills in their employees. With increasing creativity or a creative company culture, employees can feel more inclined to think of solutions to problems. An overall improvement in problem-solving can increase employee morale, solve complex company issues, and show the industry that the company is a competitor with incredible value to offer its customers. More competitiveness and fewer problems can increase a company's revenues, reduce turnover rates, and even help improve product quality.
What does creativity look like in the workplace?
Creativity in the workplace can take many forms, depending on the person using it, the problem or project they're applying it to, and how much the business encourages it from employees. Here's what creativity can look like at work:
More risk-taking behaviours from employees: Creativity can inspire employees to take minor risks with new ideas or suggestions. A company that embraces and encourages creativity may have more ideas to use, more meetings to brainstorm solutions, or an idea board where employees can freely write new ideas for everyone to consider.
More trusting leaders: Managers leading a creative team may show more trust for their teams to complete tasks on time. This level of trust can be important for both building the team's relationship with the company managers and improving employee morale.
Increased productivity from individual teams: When employees are able to express their creativity at work, they may feel a greater freedom to explore and apply new ideas, increasing productivity. This may help inspire further creativity by showing employees that new ideas can have tangible benefits.
Higher industry ratings and competition: Creative companies often encounter greater competition, as their ideas are generating interest from the public and their customers. The company may also rank higher in the industry if its creativity improves employee morale, attracts the right talent, and provides a high-quality, consistent product.
How can you develop more creativity at work?
If you want to build more creativity at work, you can follow these steps:
Create a culture of acceptance
Whether you're working in management or as an entry-level associate, you can help foster a culture of acceptance at work. A culture of acceptance means accepting everyone for who they are, their experiences, and their unique life perspectives. An easy way to practise and master this skill is to learn to listen more effectively when people speak. Active listening can help people feel more accepted and understood, and shows that you genuinely care about them. Managers can encourage employees to listen more and explore the perspectives of others, and employees can practise being respectful of other cultures or backgrounds.
Reduce the use of the word no
The word no establishes an important boundary, but may also hinder creativity. By reducing the use of the word no, you can potentially provide ample opportunity for employees to explore new ideas freely and without judgment. Consider every idea that your colleagues or team members present and try to find the value in each one before you decline. You might find that allowing employees to express themselves this way improves their confidence, even if you don't accept all of their ideas.
Diversify each team
Diversity is crucial to creativity, because it can sometimes take a new perspective to inspire creativity in a team. For example, if a team is stuck on a problem, consulting someone from a completely different cultural background or department may allow the team to explore different ideas. Consider hiring a diverse team from different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. Ensure each candidate qualifies for the position and shows creativity in their work experience. You can also look for skills like problem-solving or critical thinking, which are part of creativity.
When someone on your team or under your supervision displays creativity, it's important to offer praise and recognition for their efforts. This helps maintain team morale and shows everyone the value of creativity in your workplace. Even if you simply say "Thank you for that creative idea," you're still offering praise and showing them you care about what they've said. Some companies offer unique incentives for creativity, and you can consider benefits like bonuses or buying lunch for the team for certain creative efforts.
Host brainstorming sessions or create an idea board
Brainstorming sessions allow for the free flow of ideas and thoughts, often to address a specific issue. You can host brainstorming sessions anytime, with minimal resources. Simply invite everyone to a meeting, huddle, or e-mail chain where you ask everyone for their input, then discuss the ideas everyone presents. You might also consider hanging an idea board in the workplace, which can be a chalkboard or whiteboard where everyone writes ideas to improve the company or specific company processes.
Provide necessary resources
To inspire, maintain, and encourage creativity in the workplace, it's also important to provide the necessary resources to everyone on the team. If you're a manager, this might mean providing employees with the time and space to express new ideas, with industry tools for exploring new processes, or with information. If you're an employee working within a team, this might mean providing everyone with your contact information and making a list of your ideas to discuss.
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