Proven Ways to Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace

Proven Ways to Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace

Innovation and creativity are the markers of a successful business. However, these can be tricky to unlock in the workplace. It might seem like a secret formula, but really, it’s not! Building creativity and innovation comes from satisfied employees, diverse experiences, teamwork, and inspiring leadership. With some management adjustments, you can turn your business into an innovative and creative environment for everyone.

Method 1 of 3:
Motivating Employees

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1
Hire people with diverse backgrounds for new perspectives. Building a creative workplace starts with the people you hire. If all your employees have the same background and education, they might not come up with the most creative solutions. Try to build a more diverse team. Seek about people with different educational, professional, and cultural backgrounds to bring new perspectives into your workplace. [1] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source Be open to people with unorthodox professional backgrounds and think about the skills they’ll bring. For example, a former teacher probably has excellent communication and speaking skills, even if they don't have business experience, so they could be a great addition. You might also look for people with different degrees. Some with a psychology or philosophy degree will probably think about problems differently than someone with a business degree, and these new perspectives can really improve your workplace. Different cultural and racial backgrounds could also give people different perspectives, so try to diversify your workplace this way as well.
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2
Encourage employees to come to you with new ideas. Employees should always feel like you’re available to listen, and they’ll be much more comfortable pitching ideas this way. Tell your employees that you want to hear their ideas, and always thank the ones who come to you with suggestions. [2] X Research source An “open door policy” in your office could help, meaning that if your door is open, anyone is free to come in. You could also set up an email or digital system where employees can share ideas. This might be less intimidating for some who are shyer.
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3
Let employees spend time each day on their own projects. This is a trick that innovative companies like Google use. Giving all employees a time slot every day to do whatever they want—drawing, playing a game, working on a program, or taking a rest—lets them tinker with new ideas and come up with creative solutions. Many business owners have found that this leads to more innovation in the workplace. [3] X Research source The company 3M called this time block “15 percent time,” because it allowed workers to spend 15% of their paid working time doing something else. You can adopt a similar policy, or adjust the time as you need to. If you do adopt this policy, make sure you don’t judge employees for what they do with their time. If they spend their time playing on their phone, don’t stop them. Otherwise, you’ll set the precedent that you’re micromanaging their break time.
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4
Let people work on projects they’re passionate about. Nothing motivates people like working on things they’re passionate about. Do your best to let employees work on projects that they enjoy. With this extra boost of motivation, your employees are more likely to come up with creative and innovative solutions. [4] X Research source For example, if one of your marketers has experience in graphic design, let them come up with the graphics for your new ad campaign. They’ll be extra motivated to do a great job.
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5
Assign employees to different tasks if you need to shake things up. On the other hand, sometimes people can get stuck in a routine if they always work on the same project. You can shake things up by assigning employees to different tasks outside their normal routine to bring in a new perspective. This fresh set of eyes might come up with solutions that others didn’t think of. [5] X Research source Some employees might be hesitant to do something new, but encourage them to try it out. However, if someone is very insistent that they don’t want to do something, don’t force them.
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6
Reward employees who come up with new ideas. There’s nothing better than an incentive to encourage people to solve problems. When one of your employees comes up with a great idea, offering some kind of reward is the best way to show your appreciation. Even better, your other employees will see that you offer rewards for good ideas, and they’ll be motivated to come up with more. [6] X Research source There are all kinds of ways you could offer rewards for employees who solve tough problems. A bonus, raise, or vacation day are all great for motivation. If an employee consistently has great ideas, they might even deserve a promotion. If it’s not in your power to give rewards like these, then always make sure to thank the employees for their contributions. A nice email or quick conversation telling them you appreciate their efforts is a great way to make people feel valuable.
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7
Encourage employees to take vacation time so they return fresh. This might sound counterintuitive, but spending time away from work is usually great for creativity. Employees who work themselves too hard usually don’t have enough time or energy to come up with innovative ideas. Don’t pressure your employees to spend all their time working. On the contrary, encourage them to use their vacation days so they come back fresh and ready to come up with new ideas. [7] X Research source Giving a very hard-working employee an extra day off for their efforts is a great idea to let them take a rest and reward them at the same time.
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Method 2 of 3:
Building Cooperation

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1
Have team brainstorming sessions regularly to build camaraderie. Creativity doesn’t happen in a bubble. Cooperative workplaces are usually more innovative too. The best way to tap into this is by having regular brainstorming sessions. Set up a periodic meeting, like once a month, and bring your team together to talk about what they’re working on. Let everyone contribute and comment to find proactive solutions. [8] X Research source It’s very important that everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas in these meetings. Encourage everyone to talk and don’t criticize any ideas. You can also do digital brainstorming sessions with videoconference software and programs. This might be much more convenient for everyone.
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2
Let the employees do most of the talking in meetings. Managers and bosses might not realize how much they monopolize conversations just by spending more time talking than everyone else. Keep yourself in check during meetings and make sure everyone gets a chance to talk. Giving a short introduction and then letting your employees take over is a great way to keep the meeting collaborative. [9] X Research source Don’t let anyone else dominate the conversation either. If one employee is doing most of the talking or arguing with everyone, tell them to let others have a turn. If you need some help facilitating conversation, you could bring in an outside consultant to lead meetings. They’ll make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and keep anyone else in line if they’re dominating the conversation.
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3
Start an employee forum where everyone can post ideas. Employees shouldn’t be limited to expressing their ideas in periodic meetings. For even more collaboration, build an employee forum online where everyone can post and comment. That way, the entire office can get involved in the creative process. [10] X Research source If you don’t have the software to make your own forum, you could make a Facebook group or chat room instead. This is easier and cheaper. Keep an eye on this forum to make sure no one is being rude. This is very bad for the creative process.
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4
Assign employees to work together on projects. Group projects probably weren’t the most popular things when you were in school, but they can be great for fostering more cooperation and innovation at work. Build teams to tackle individual projects. This makes people work together and could lead to some innovative solutions. [11] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source Try to build a diverse team for each project. People with different backgrounds and experiences can come up with unique solutions.
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Method 3 of 3:
Providing Leadership

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1
Be a hands-off leader so employees can explore their own solutions. Micromanagement is very bad for creativity. If your employees feel like you’re always breathing down their necks, they have much less opportunity to experiment and try new ideas. Stick with the big ideas and let your employees fill in the cracks. That way, they can get things done the best way they see fit. [12] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source A good way to avoid micromanaging is by giving a general direction and clear endpoint for a project, but letting your employees decide how to accomplish it. This gives them space to experiment and solve the problem on their own. If you feel like you always need to know every detail of what your employees are working on and are frustrated when your employees don’t do things the way you want them to, you may be a micromanager. Consider backing off a bit and giving employees more freedom.[13] X Research source Being hands-off doesn’t mean neglecting the projects under your supervision, though. Check in with your employees periodically to see how things are going and make sure everything is on schedule.
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2
Keep yourself open to new ideas and angles. Openness to new ideas comes from the top, and your employees will pick up on it if you’re closed off to innovation. Keep an open mind with everything and be willing to learn. This way, you’ll be more receptive to new ideas from your employees. [14] X Research source You might not have a lot of control over people above you, so if they’re closed off to innovation, it could hurt your efforts. Try to convince them that being more open is good for the business.
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3
Don’t expect immediate results so your employees aren't stressed. Experimentation and innovation can take time, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you want everything to pay off immediately. Give your employees time to experiment and work problems out without criticizing them for not sticking to a tight schedule. [15] X Research source If you can’t wait for long-term results, try breaking projects into smaller pieces. Let your employees deliver these short-term results while they work on a more long-term experiment at the same time.
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4
Accept that there isn't a single right answer to problems. This can be tough to get used to, but it’s important. It’s tough to be open to innovation if you have a cookie-cutter idea of how to do things. There are always other perspectives and solutions that others might come up with. Keeping yourself open to new solutions that you hadn't thought of. [16] X Research source If you’re a software engineer, for example, you may always work with the same coding language. However, one of your employees might use a different language to get a better result. Accept that this might be a better solution and encourage others to try it. Creativity doesn't always look like writing or painting—sometimes it means coming up with a resourceful solution to a problem. When you're encouraging your employees to be creative, you might be surprised at the issues they're able to solve![17] X Expert Source Rahti Gorfien, PCC Rahti Gorfien, PCC. Life Coach Expert Interview. 17 December 2019.
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5
Don't worry about failure if a new idea doesn’t work out. Innovation and experimentation will inevitably lead to some failures. This is okay! Failure is part of the learning process, and your employees will be much more willing to experiment if they know they won’t be punished for it. On the other hand, if you punish people for failing, your employees will be too scared to try anything new. [18] X Research source If one of your employees comes up with an idea that doesn’t work, thank them for trying. Let them know you really appreciate the effort and want them to keep coming up with ideas.
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6
Implement new ideas quickly so employees see their contributions. If your employees constantly give you suggestions but never see you actually implement them, they’ll get frustrated and feel like they aren’t making a difference. As well as you can, implement new ideas as soon as possible. When your employees see that you actually take their ideas seriously and put them into action, they’ll be more motivated to suggest other ideas. [19] X Research source Some ideas do legitimately take time, so don’t rush things. But it’ll be helpful to give the employees status updates on the plan so they see that things are happening.
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7
Be positive if you have to decline an idea. If you encourage your employees to come up with a lot of ideas, then it’s inevitable that some just won’t be very good. This is normal, and it’s just part of the creative process. The important thing is being positive and encouraging when you reject an idea. This way, the employee won’t feel let down and will keep coming to you with ideas. [20] X Research source Good phrasing might be “I really appreciate your idea here, but I don’t think it’s doable right now. Let’s keep it in mind for the future.”
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Method 1 of 3:
Motivating Employees

Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 1
1
Hire people with diverse backgrounds for new perspectives. Building a creative workplace starts with the people you hire. If all your employees have the same background and education, they might not come up with the most creative solutions. Try to build a more diverse team. Seek about people with different educational, professional, and cultural backgrounds to bring new perspectives into your workplace. [1] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source Be open to people with unorthodox professional backgrounds and think about the skills they’ll bring. For example, a former teacher probably has excellent communication and speaking skills, even if they don't have business experience, so they could be a great addition. You might also look for people with different degrees. Some with a psychology or philosophy degree will probably think about problems differently than someone with a business degree, and these new perspectives can really improve your workplace. Different cultural and racial backgrounds could also give people different perspectives, so try to diversify your workplace this way as well.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 2
2
Encourage employees to come to you with new ideas. Employees should always feel like you’re available to listen, and they’ll be much more comfortable pitching ideas this way. Tell your employees that you want to hear their ideas, and always thank the ones who come to you with suggestions. [2] X Research source An “open door policy” in your office could help, meaning that if your door is open, anyone is free to come in. You could also set up an email or digital system where employees can share ideas. This might be less intimidating for some who are shyer.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 3
3
Let employees spend time each day on their own projects. This is a trick that innovative companies like Google use. Giving all employees a time slot every day to do whatever they want—drawing, playing a game, working on a program, or taking a rest—lets them tinker with new ideas and come up with creative solutions. Many business owners have found that this leads to more innovation in the workplace. [3] X Research source The company 3M called this time block “15 percent time,” because it allowed workers to spend 15% of their paid working time doing something else. You can adopt a similar policy, or adjust the time as you need to. If you do adopt this policy, make sure you don’t judge employees for what they do with their time. If they spend their time playing on their phone, don’t stop them. Otherwise, you’ll set the precedent that you’re micromanaging their break time.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 4
4
Let people work on projects they’re passionate about. Nothing motivates people like working on things they’re passionate about. Do your best to let employees work on projects that they enjoy. With this extra boost of motivation, your employees are more likely to come up with creative and innovative solutions. [4] X Research source For example, if one of your marketers has experience in graphic design, let them come up with the graphics for your new ad campaign. They’ll be extra motivated to do a great job.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 5
5
Assign employees to different tasks if you need to shake things up. On the other hand, sometimes people can get stuck in a routine if they always work on the same project. You can shake things up by assigning employees to different tasks outside their normal routine to bring in a new perspective. This fresh set of eyes might come up with solutions that others didn’t think of. [5] X Research source Some employees might be hesitant to do something new, but encourage them to try it out. However, if someone is very insistent that they don’t want to do something, don’t force them.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 6
6
Reward employees who come up with new ideas. There’s nothing better than an incentive to encourage people to solve problems. When one of your employees comes up with a great idea, offering some kind of reward is the best way to show your appreciation. Even better, your other employees will see that you offer rewards for good ideas, and they’ll be motivated to come up with more. [6] X Research source There are all kinds of ways you could offer rewards for employees who solve tough problems. A bonus, raise, or vacation day are all great for motivation. If an employee consistently has great ideas, they might even deserve a promotion. If it’s not in your power to give rewards like these, then always make sure to thank the employees for their contributions. A nice email or quick conversation telling them you appreciate their efforts is a great way to make people feel valuable.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 7
7
Encourage employees to take vacation time so they return fresh. This might sound counterintuitive, but spending time away from work is usually great for creativity. Employees who work themselves too hard usually don’t have enough time or energy to come up with innovative ideas. Don’t pressure your employees to spend all their time working. On the contrary, encourage them to use their vacation days so they come back fresh and ready to come up with new ideas. [7] X Research source Giving a very hard-working employee an extra day off for their efforts is a great idea to let them take a rest and reward them at the same time.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Building Cooperation

Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 8
1
Have team brainstorming sessions regularly to build camaraderie. Creativity doesn’t happen in a bubble. Cooperative workplaces are usually more innovative too. The best way to tap into this is by having regular brainstorming sessions. Set up a periodic meeting, like once a month, and bring your team together to talk about what they’re working on. Let everyone contribute and comment to find proactive solutions. [8] X Research source It’s very important that everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas in these meetings. Encourage everyone to talk and don’t criticize any ideas. You can also do digital brainstorming sessions with videoconference software and programs. This might be much more convenient for everyone.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 9
2
Let the employees do most of the talking in meetings. Managers and bosses might not realize how much they monopolize conversations just by spending more time talking than everyone else. Keep yourself in check during meetings and make sure everyone gets a chance to talk. Giving a short introduction and then letting your employees take over is a great way to keep the meeting collaborative. [9] X Research source Don’t let anyone else dominate the conversation either. If one employee is doing most of the talking or arguing with everyone, tell them to let others have a turn. If you need some help facilitating conversation, you could bring in an outside consultant to lead meetings. They’ll make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and keep anyone else in line if they’re dominating the conversation.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 10
3
Start an employee forum where everyone can post ideas. Employees shouldn’t be limited to expressing their ideas in periodic meetings. For even more collaboration, build an employee forum online where everyone can post and comment. That way, the entire office can get involved in the creative process. [10] X Research source If you don’t have the software to make your own forum, you could make a Facebook group or chat room instead. This is easier and cheaper. Keep an eye on this forum to make sure no one is being rude. This is very bad for the creative process.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 11
4
Assign employees to work together on projects. Group projects probably weren’t the most popular things when you were in school, but they can be great for fostering more cooperation and innovation at work. Build teams to tackle individual projects. This makes people work together and could lead to some innovative solutions. [11] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source Try to build a diverse team for each project. People with different backgrounds and experiences can come up with unique solutions.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Providing Leadership

Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 12
1
Be a hands-off leader so employees can explore their own solutions. Micromanagement is very bad for creativity. If your employees feel like you’re always breathing down their necks, they have much less opportunity to experiment and try new ideas. Stick with the big ideas and let your employees fill in the cracks. That way, they can get things done the best way they see fit. [12] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source A good way to avoid micromanaging is by giving a general direction and clear endpoint for a project, but letting your employees decide how to accomplish it. This gives them space to experiment and solve the problem on their own. If you feel like you always need to know every detail of what your employees are working on and are frustrated when your employees don’t do things the way you want them to, you may be a micromanager. Consider backing off a bit and giving employees more freedom.[13] X Research source Being hands-off doesn’t mean neglecting the projects under your supervision, though. Check in with your employees periodically to see how things are going and make sure everything is on schedule.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 13
2
Keep yourself open to new ideas and angles. Openness to new ideas comes from the top, and your employees will pick up on it if you’re closed off to innovation. Keep an open mind with everything and be willing to learn. This way, you’ll be more receptive to new ideas from your employees. [14] X Research source You might not have a lot of control over people above you, so if they’re closed off to innovation, it could hurt your efforts. Try to convince them that being more open is good for the business.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 14
3
Don’t expect immediate results so your employees aren't stressed. Experimentation and innovation can take time, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you want everything to pay off immediately. Give your employees time to experiment and work problems out without criticizing them for not sticking to a tight schedule. [15] X Research source If you can’t wait for long-term results, try breaking projects into smaller pieces. Let your employees deliver these short-term results while they work on a more long-term experiment at the same time.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 15
4
Accept that there isn't a single right answer to problems. This can be tough to get used to, but it’s important. It’s tough to be open to innovation if you have a cookie-cutter idea of how to do things. There are always other perspectives and solutions that others might come up with. Keeping yourself open to new solutions that you hadn't thought of. [16] X Research source If you’re a software engineer, for example, you may always work with the same coding language. However, one of your employees might use a different language to get a better result. Accept that this might be a better solution and encourage others to try it. Creativity doesn't always look like writing or painting—sometimes it means coming up with a resourceful solution to a problem. When you're encouraging your employees to be creative, you might be surprised at the issues they're able to solve![17] X Expert Source Rahti Gorfien, PCC Rahti Gorfien, PCC. Life Coach Expert Interview. 17 December 2019.
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5
Don't worry about failure if a new idea doesn’t work out. Innovation and experimentation will inevitably lead to some failures. This is okay! Failure is part of the learning process, and your employees will be much more willing to experiment if they know they won’t be punished for it. On the other hand, if you punish people for failing, your employees will be too scared to try anything new. [18] X Research source If one of your employees comes up with an idea that doesn’t work, thank them for trying. Let them know you really appreciate the effort and want them to keep coming up with ideas.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 17
6
Implement new ideas quickly so employees see their contributions. If your employees constantly give you suggestions but never see you actually implement them, they’ll get frustrated and feel like they aren’t making a difference. As well as you can, implement new ideas as soon as possible. When your employees see that you actually take their ideas seriously and put them into action, they’ll be more motivated to suggest other ideas. [19] X Research source Some ideas do legitimately take time, so don’t rush things. But it’ll be helpful to give the employees status updates on the plan so they see that things are happening.
Image titled Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace Step 18
7
Be positive if you have to decline an idea. If you encourage your employees to come up with a lot of ideas, then it’s inevitable that some just won’t be very good. This is normal, and it’s just part of the creative process. The important thing is being positive and encouraging when you reject an idea. This way, the employee won’t feel let down and will keep coming to you with ideas. [20] X Research source Good phrasing might be “I really appreciate your idea here, but I don’t think it’s doable right now. Let’s keep it in mind for the future.”
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