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4 proven ways to encourage team creativity

60 percent of CEOs say that creativity is the most important leadership quality

Graphic: two individuals high fiving. Text reads: 4 proven ways to encourage team creativity

Recently, 60% of CEOs stated creativity was the most important leadership quality, nearly twice the number who cited global thinking (35%).

So, the questions is — how can we encourage creativity at the workplace?

In an increasingly global workforce, supporting creative communications can require new approaches to enable collaboration across time zones or locations. These approaches include adopting tools, technologies, and methods of people management that encourage creativity and the active exchange of ideas at the workplace.

The end goal? Creating a workplace that keeps employees creatively satisfied and engaged.

Regardless of the size of your organization, here are four ways to support the creative spark and the exchange of ideas at work:

1. Promote flexibility

It is a well-accepted notion that providing employees free time to think about strategies and ideas is a good way to boost their creativity. Leaders who tend to micromanage or hover may actually stifle productivity and employee engagement by limiting the potential for creative thinking.

Consider this — for 69 percent of millennials worldwide, flexibility in how and where they work is a necessity for workplace happiness.

A woman working on a Macbook at a table
Working in a flexible environment promotes workplace happiness

Major companies like 3M and Google provide their employees with scheduled free time, which takes up, in some cases, 20 percent of paid time in the office. This time allotted for creativity has brought huge innovations to technology, like Gmail and even Google Earth.

While it may appear on the surface that literally paying your employees to sit around would not be beneficial, it could bring about the next big thing.

Want to make your team more effective? Use our guide to team communication and collaboration.

2. Introduce a collaboration app

Collaboration apps are now, according to Cisco research, “business-critical tools…to reduce and avoid costs, accelerate time to market, and transform entire industries.”

Not only do team collaboration apps support the success of project-based teams that may combine both on-site and remote workers, but they also enable real-time communication.

As organizations embrace digital transformation and new methods of work, project collaboration apps can enhance the kind of open communication that supports innovation, design thinking, and disruptive innovation.

3. Adopt design thinking

The world’s most innovative companies are united by their adoption of design thinking, a method of customer-focused product design that’s driven by diverse teams of people from different backgrounds.

When everyone’s feedback is valued, people may be more willing to share ideas with more creative results. One global study revealed these design-driven organizations are 228 percent more profitable than average.

A man stares at a corkboard covered in various memos
Let’s think ‘Design’

While design thinking can enable organizations to deliver genuinely disruptive products and services that customers love, many companies are using it to hack their internal processes and develop new efficiencies.

According to a recent global study, 71 percent of design-driven organizations stated that their commitment to collaborative change had led to a superior company culture.

4. Recognize creative success

Regardless of where in the world they’re located, the organizations with the most-engaged employees share a commitment to positivity, according to a recent study.

Rewarding employees and recognizing team members who share great ideas can create incentive for future innovations.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reports that employee recognition programs don’t just support creative thinking and great ideas. They have a real impact on your company’s bottom line.

According to SHRM, 90 percent of HR leaders who practice value-based employee recognition report superior employee engagement, while 66 percent believe it improved employer branding. Other reported benefits include safety, cost savings, and even healthier employees.

Provide your team with the stepping stones needed for success

Your team already has the brainpower needed to bring interesting and profitable ideas to your business. Providing them with proper time, structure, tools, and motivation could make all the difference.

By promoting flexibility and design thinking, creating systems for recognition, and adopting collaboration technologies, you could put your team on the fast track to developing a creativity-driven culture.

This post was updated in October 2019 with new information.

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