5 Ways to Inspire Creativity among Employees

Fostering a culture of creative innovation is critical to the success of a company.

5 Ways to Inspire Creativity among Employees

Success in modern business requires the ability to adapt quickly, responding to evolving market conditions and changes in prevailing best practices. As a result, creativity and innovation are among the most important features of successful, forward-thinking enterprises. Staying on the cutting edge means committing to strategies that support staffing and infrastructure capable of staying a step ahead of the competition. Team thinking and creativity are key components of winning business plans, which set the stage for success, and then get out of the way of the professionals chosen to get the job done.

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Successful managers and executives rely on top talent to achieve at high levels, but employees are powerless without an organizational culture that supports success. From the top down, progressive businesses encourage innovation and facilitate excellence. And since maximizing each employee's potential is the name of the game, creating environments conducive to success has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Though each employee has his or her set of personal responsibilities, within diverse work environments, there are nonetheless several underlying strategies that prove valuable to organizations of all sizes and specialties. Successful employers start with these fundamental approaches, as part of a comprehensive human resources management strategy.

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1. Provide the tools for success

Organizational efficiency is a buzzword among modern employers, in part resulting from the recent economic downturn, which forced many organizations to downsize and squeeze productivity from a diminished workforce. Running lean underscores the importance of establishing organizational structures capable of achieving lofty goals. Without the tools for success, however, there is little chance of success, despite the skill and potential of your staff. Technology, for example, shifts continually, changing the way many companies do business. Industry-wide standards can be impacted by small technological advances, so it is essential to stay current with the key infrastructure used by employees to generate goods and services. As a facilitator, successful employers give employees the tools and support required to think outside the box and outperform competitors.

2. Promote personal engagement

Team thinking is essential to success in most industries, prompting breakthroughs that couldn't be achieved by individual members. But there is also a personal side to a successful business, which accounts for each player as an important contributor and valued teammate. Regardless of his or her position within the organization, individual recognition spurs an employee toward greater accountability and stimulates innovation and creativity. High levels of employee engagement also result in valuable feedback for employers, who gain unique insight straight from the employees charged with particular tasks.

3. Furnish a creative work environment

The cross-pollination of creative ideas starts with an environment conducive to collaboration and interaction among staff members. Open floor plans, with uniform access to coworkers literally, remove barriers to communication, setting the stage for creativity and innovation. Comfortable settings, with lots of natural light sources, furnish ideal environments for creative thinking, continually renewing employees with a link to the outside. And since alternative delivery methods continue to gain ground in the workplace, creating productive work settings now goes beyond the confines of an office or building. Employees who telecommute or deliver output electronically need to be included, so accounting for their contributions via efficient communications systems and video conferencing options keeps the entire team on the same page - regardless of each member's location.

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4. Get out of the way

Each manager has his or her own style, which takes them down unique paths to success, but competent leaders all know when to get out of the way. Though employees need guidance and direction, must also seek autonomy to make individual contributions to their organizations' success. Beyond furnishing the tools for success, intuitive managers provide freedom for each employee to excel in his or her role. Allowing staffers to run with their ideas leads to new business development opportunities as well as innovative ideas for fresh products and services.

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5. Help outside the workplace

Modern families move at a harried pace, struggling to keep up with daily concerns and financial demands. Filling precisely the needs employees need filled leads to high job satisfaction and productivity, as well as lower turnover among key staff members. Flexible benefits, for example, allow staff to dial into their particular needs, to maximize take-home pay without sacrificing perks. Daycare for children is another benefit employers extend to stimulate productivity and innovation. With each need employers cover, employees grow freer to focus on projects and work assignments calling for creative input. Though traditional salary and bonus incentives still reinforce productivity and excellence, non-cash benefits have real-world impacts that keep staff focused.

Responding to ever-changing business markets requires creativity and forward-thinking innovation. To stay ahead of competitors, progressive employers recognize each employee's contribution, furnishing the tools each staffer needs in order to succeed. And while setting the stage is essential, leaders must also allow staff autonomy to push the envelope of innovation and creativity.

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About the author: Sarah Brooks, from people search, is a Houston-based freelance writer and blogger. 

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