How To Show Your Creativity at Work (Plus Examples)
Updated 24 August 2023
For many companies, innovation is key to success in the process of developing new products or inventing new services. Creativity is the foundation of innovation, enabling teams to imagine new possibilities and work together to realise them. If you seek to improve how your team generates fresh ideas, you might benefit from learning about how organisations can make creativity a priority at work. In this article, we define the role of creativity in the workplace and explain how you can show creativity at work, illustrated with examples.
What is creativity in the workplace?
Creativity in the workplace is the application of creative skills to the atmosphere, responsibilities, and relationships that form a professional environment. Sometimes, a job requires the direct application of creative expertise on a daily basis. Other times, roles that an employer may not consider especially creative may demand that employees use their ability to imagine, combine ideas, and invent solutions.
Beyond using creativity to fulfil responsibilities, professionals can also engage in creative activities to achieve desirable goals. For instance, a company might have employees work together on an office redecoration project or invite them to share their personal creative work with colleagues. These opportunities can lead to outcomes such as:
Better teamwork: Engaging in creative exercises can enable teams to collaborate in new and fun ways. When completing their daily tasks, they can incorporate the skills of cooperation and sharing of ideas they may have learned from taking part in creative pursuits.
Positive work culture: When employees feel their employers encourage creativity, they often perceive their workplaces as open-minded, inviting, and innovative. Discussing subjects that involve creativity also allows employees to support one another in developing new ideas and expressing their thoughts.
Enhanced professional skills: Many creative activities involve problem-solving, brainstorming, and imagination. These skills can help employees consider their duties from different perspectives and attempt new methods of handling them.
Energised work environments: Creative work often results in employees feeling challenged, inspired, and curious. These emotions contribute to more positive and enjoyable work environments.
Related: Creative Skills in the Workplace
How to show creativity at work
Whether you're an employee or a manager, you can show creativity at work in various ways, including:
1. Teaching skills and concepts
When introducing employees to new skills and concepts, you can show creativity by preparing presentations in an unexpected and engaging way. Professionals who are talented at training and teaching others know how to use inventive public speaking and interpersonal skills to create interest in their subject. They consider how to tailor their instruction to different individuals and groups and adapt their teaching style to make learning entertaining and exciting.
2. Improving customer relations
Employees show creativity when they consider how they can provide customers with an exceptional level of individualised service. Since many professionals learn about their clients' lives and interests while working with them, they can think of creative and friendly gestures that support a continued positive relationship. Professionals can surprise their clients with birthday cards, send thoughtful holiday gifts or learn a little about their clients' hobbies so they can ask informed questions about them.
3. Solving problems
Problem-solving requires creativity to find the optimal solutions. While some problems have established responses, exceptional professionals can confidently confront unique ones that don't have straightforward answers. Creativity in problem-solving might mean applying insights from various disciplines, experimenting with different approaches, and inventing new tools or resources.
Crowdsourcing refers to the act of collecting inputs from many people, either within or outside of an organisation. It involves having a creative mindset since you listen to and explore contributions from different backgrounds. To actualise the ideas they crowdsource, companies can interpret them and imagine how they can market them. For instance, a snack company might crowdsource ideas for a new flavour of chips over social media and internally. Only with creativity can the company turn the best ideas they receive into a marketable product.
5. Starting conversations
Engaging in conversations about thought-provoking subjects requires creative skills such as synthesising ideas, processing information, and presenting your own perspective. Companies can facilitate conversations about intellectual and fascinating topics to encourage learning about new, non-work-related subjects, or they can simply emphasise more open discussion during meetings, encouraging contributions from as many people as possible.
6. Offering external programmes
Some companies offer educational or entertainment programming to add variety to employees' daily routines. These programmes can engage teams' creative interests and potential, even if their exact contents don't relate to your business model. For example, a company might invite an author of a recent science book to give a talk or have a musician perform and do a question-and-answer session. These stimulating experiences can teach employees lessons about the creative process, inspire them to think in new ways and encourage them to apply their creative assets in their work.
7. Designing your workplace
Many companies follow a traditional approach to selecting, designing, and decorating workplaces. While perhaps not intentionally, this might suggest the company as a whole takes a straightforward approach to its work. Conversely, companies that explore innovative designs and consider the effects decor, colours, and lighting have on employees prove that they're embracing creativity and attention to detail. Not only do these spaces look unique, but having ergonomic, energising design throughout an office can make employees feel more productive, healthy, and satisfied in their roles.
8. Requesting self-review
Instead of simply giving a one-way performance review from manager to employee, many organisations now request employees to conduct a self-review, as well. This process asks the employees to reflect on their work habits and performance and envision how they can progress in the future. Analysing one's own presence and contributions is a fundamentally creative act. It requires you to view yourself from an outside perspective and imagine how your work affects other people in both subtle and major ways.
9. Taking risks
In businesses where creating new products and services is key, you can expect ideas to fail many times before they become successful. Since people typically yearn to succeed, they may be less inclined to explore worthwhile but risky ideas. However, companies that accept this process of failure as necessary can have open-minded attitudes and encourage creative risk-taking. When employees feel supported in taking new and bold approaches, they maximise their creative abilities and attempt to actualise ideas that can lead to incredible innovation.
Creativity at work examples
Here are a few common workplace scenarios where you can use creativity to create positive outcomes for your team:
Problem-solving with creativity example
Here's a situation where an employee turns a challenging situation into a positive one with creativity:
A guest at a restaurant has an extensive list of dietary restrictions that prevents them from ordering any of the items currently on the menu. The server passes this information along to the chef who quickly thinks of three different dishes they could prepare to meet the guest's needs. The server writes a customised menu for the guest on a notecard and presents it to them so they can also enjoy the experience of selecting their meal and ordering with everyone else.
Crowdsourcing creativity example
Here's an example of a company relying on the creative responses of its employees to plan its future branding strategy:
A company decides it would benefit from adjusting its branding. Rather than outsourcing all of this work, the management crowdsources ideas for an updated logo and slogan from its large employee base. These professionals who know their company intimately apply their unique creative skills and submit dozens of great ideas, a few of which directly contribute to the final rebrand.
Designing the workplace creatively example
Here's an example of a company taking a creative and thoughtful approach to its office design and experiencing its benefits:
The chief executive officer of a startup company wants to create a workplace where employees genuinely enjoy spending their time there. They research the office design concepts of other innovative companies and work with an interior designer to create an inviting and comfortable space. Following the design project, many candidates arriving for interviews with the company become excited at the prospect of working in a unique and creative environment.
Developing skills with creativity example
Here's an example of a company encouraging its employees to enhance their professional skills with a creative exercise:
During a training session, a sales manager asks employees to get in pairs. The manager directs them to script a brief role-play that illustrates the most common challenge they face when attempting a sale. The manager also offers a gift card to the pair that creates the best role play, as voted by the rest of the team. Employees feel encouraged to reflect on their jobs, engage their imagination, and create an entertaining and informative presentation.
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