Last updated May 18, 2023

So many managers and team leaders fail to fully embrace the skills and talents of the staff they lead and yet, given the chance, many staff will thrive and productivity levels and workplace happiness can rise quickly.

So what can we do to aid staff’s creativity? Here are 10 tips that you should find useful.

Tips to unleash staff creativity

Benefits of Unleashing Staff Creativity

There are several benefits to unleashing your employees’ creativity and these include:

  • Productivity: by allowing staff to have more freedom and to utilize their creative skills, as a company, you will have access to more skill sets as you unlock the talents of the individuals who work for and with you.
  • Job satisfaction and Happiness: as staff is given the chance to use their creative talents, you will tend to see staff who are happier in their work and who have more job satisfaction. Being able to do what they are good at and enjoy doing also aids workplace well-being.
  • Reduced Staff Turnover: with happier staff, you can expect to see a reduction in staff turnover. This can have profound benefits in terms of cost savings for the business. Hiring new staff and training them is a significant expense for any company.
  • Better ideas and Innovation: As employees are given more opportunities to show and use their creative skills, you will inevitably unlock further skills and talent that would otherwise have always been hidden.

I think you might agree that it’s time to allow staff to use their creative talents, so let’s look now at the ten tips.

10 Tips for Releasing Employee Creativity

Pushing staff creativity

1. Be Inclusive

Being inclusive is something that you should already be doing for ethical and legal reasons because all employees should be treated equally and fairly.

Inclusivity though also means that you will have access to a much wider range of ideas, skills, and talent, and really open up the possibilities for innovation.

It can often be the quiet person in the corner, or some other person you might otherwise not have expected, who will provide creative solutions and ideas.

As mentioned though, inclusion is essential in every workplace as we really should be giving everyone, no matter what their background, dis/ability, ethnicity, and character, a chance to be a part of the team and to feel appreciated.

2. Create a Physical Environment That Aids Creativity

There is a reason why some companies in Silicon Valley created play areas in their offices, allowing staff to relax and unwind such as with pool tables, ping pong tables, and other relaxation areas.

The idea is to create an environment in which staff can let go of stress and let their creative juices flow.

Now you do NOT need to install pool tables!

But you can quite easily do a number of fairly simple things that build a more creative work environment than you might presently have. For example:

  • place some plants and greenery around the office
  • add some modern and colorful artwork to the walls
  • if space allows, have a sofa area with nice cushions, that people can use, and use other comfortable (but ergonomic) seating

You can find more ideas on Medium and Ideo.

3. Have a Brainstorming Zone

It can be a good idea to create a specific brainstorming zone area in your workplace where employees can go to brainstorm.

This area can include items and have characteristics such as:

  • large whiteboards and markers
  • a lot of natural light
  • chairs, tables, and seating that can easily be moved around for different seating plans
  • being painted in colors that create a calming and creative mood, i.e. light pastel colors
  • quiet classical music or other instrumental music on in the background
  • some plants dotted around to include nature in the brainstorming zone.

4. Give Staff the Freedom to Try Out New ideas

With great ideas, you have to accept that not all ideas will not always work.

For this reason, your team needs to know that they can try new things without reprisal.

Your staff, in other words, need the freedom to explore and try out new things and to be allowed the space to let their creativity come to fruition.

There are, of course, boundaries and limits, but do be flexible if you want to elicit creative ideas from your team.

5. Provide Staff With the Right Tools

For creativity to have meaning and value, you also need to ensure that you provide staff with the right tools and information.

The ideas, skills, and creative outputs you will see will be far more useful to you as a manager and as a business when staff are provided with the right working environment in terms of the right tools.

These tools might include software, hardware, mentors, and subject matter information.

6. Openness

Ideally, what you want to create is a team where emotional intelligence is at the forefront of how your team works.

You want your staff, for example, to feel that they can comfortably ask anything they want without any worry over being ridiculed or mocked.

By creating a workplace where there is openness and a willingness to ask questions (with the idea that no question is too silly) you begin to create a team who will explore and be more creative and willing to try new things.

Have a ‘no blame’ policy that enables staff to try new things.

Having an open-door policy, where staff feels that they can easily approach you when needed, can also greatly help.

7. Celebrate Achievements

Celebrating your employees’ achievements is invaluable, as regards creative ideas and solutions they come up with.

Sometimes, even an acknowledgment and thank you in a meeting can be enough to make an employee feel valued.

If appropriate, you can provide financial rewards or prizes but it is often not necessary.

Remember also to celebrate both big and small achievements and make staff feel appreciated.

8. Make the Goals Clear

It is far easier for staff to come up with innovative ideas and to work creatively in a way that really benefits your business if staff have a clear understanding of what the company goals and what you are trying to achieve are.

Providing clarity, such as through a set of goals (4 or 5 clear goals that can be listed as bullet points) will help staff to come up with creative solutions that are genuinely useful for your business moving forward.

9. Get Feedback

Ask staff for feedback on how the company can better empower their creative potential.

Listen to staff’s suggestions and strive to create a work environment that enables staff members to reach their creative goals.

10. Provide Training that Aids Creativity

Providing staff with training that can aid their creative skills is always worthwhile. Topics that you can include here are:

  • Problem-solving skills – there are some handy techniques for solving problems and finding solutions and being aware of such techniques can aid creativity.
  • Inclusive leadership & management – as mentioned in point one earlier, creating an inclusive workplace means that staff are more motivated and feel a part of the team. This in turn means more employees buy into the company’s goals and are likely to use their creativity to help the team move forward.
  • Teaching Emotional Intelligence – as previously mentioned, emotional intelligence is essential in the workplace because it is about creating an environment in which employees feel able to freely express their ideas and opinions without fear of being marked or put down. By creating this open no-blame culture we, in essence, help employees to feel confident and comfortable to use their creativity without worrying about doing something wrong. Managers certainly can benefit from emotional intelligence training in order to lead their staff in a balanced and effective manner.
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Dr Valeria Lo Iacono