I truly believe that Innovation is a livewire for the growth of any savvy company. In the past, companies could remain competitive based on the value of their products alone. Today presents a different prospect, however, as consumers are a tad fickle with their purchasing decisions, which are largely influenced by the value of the content they find online. Yes, I know what you are thinking right now – this is especially the case in the B2C world. But I believe it is emerging more and more in the B2B world too. So, are your ads engaging or entertaining enough? Is the content your are providing interesting for your target audience? And are you endearing your target consumers to your brand?
Creativity – from your employees – is now, more than ever, very important to the life of your business. However, you can’t just force happiness down the throats of your employees to get them more creative. Employee engagement – the emotional commitment of your employees to your company and its goals – is all there is to promoting an innovative environment in the workplace.
Here are 5 practical ways you can engage your employees and foster a healthy environment for the creative brains in the room to thrive.
Provide Resources for Collaboration
What resources would your employees need to collaborate easily and quickly? You can invite their creative expertise and best ideas by promoting a collaborative culture within the organization. If the workplace is already outfitted with modern technology, it is likely that employees may never have to leave their desk to achieve specific tasks. However, by providing resources that encourage in-person relationships, employees will be better able to share their best thoughts and ideas – important factors that make for a creative hub within the workspace.
Grant Structured Freedom (Empower!)
If you want an environment where employees can come up with savvy ideas, they need to be sure that their voices and opinions will be heard, and that they can make a difference. This means employees should be empowered to make key decisions that will affect them in the long run. If employees feel their ideas will directly affect them, you will be encouraging discretionary effort throughout the organization. However, there should be boundaries too. These boundaries ensure they remain within a space and makes them feel comfortable as they come up with their best ideas. ‘Cut’ your authority down, allow employees make decisions independently, and watch a leadership culture grow before your eyes.
Build a Diverse Team
Many business owners or managers often complain that they experience trouble finding creative people among their staff. Perhaps they only look to employ people with specific qualities, wrongly assuming that having individuals with similar professional ideas will ensure promote creativity. But unless you are only trying to re-create a specific model, having more carbon copies will do your business no good. On the other hand, a diverse team made up of members across different cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds will make for a creative hub.
Is the workplace optimized for creativity yet? You can further enhance it by rewarding risk-taking. Think for a moment: did the companies that inspired you achieve success by simply sticking to specific rules and following tradition? The company owner has taken a huge risk by setting up its own company. Don’t you think it will be ideal to only hire those who can take risks to further enhance your vision?
Google, for instance, mandates its employees to dedicate some time during regular work hours to developing personal side projects. While the work environment operates under an organizational structure, you can leverage the best ideas by allowing some freedom and rewarding risk-taking. Yes, I know – Google can afford doing such initiatives and many SMEs for example operate very lean when it comes to capacity for such things. But for sure, where there’s a will there’s a way.
Encourage Problem Solving Across Teams and Functions
Encourage collaborations across different teams and departments that may have some coaction between them in order to get a project done. For example, an employee from the design department may need to work with another employee from tech support. Encouraging situations where employees with entirely different roles and skill sets can work together promotes creativity and yields unexpected and thoughtful breakthroughs.
In truth, employee engagement breeds creativity and vice versa. Before it gets to the point where employees can walk past each other without making a simple eye contact, take action. Push down the rules. Host happy hours. Give rewards for thoughtful ideas. A playful workspace creates trust and allows creativity flow freely. Plus, you may just be handing the bragging rights to your employees by making the workplace fun!
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