How to Build a More Creative Workforce

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Innovation has been the biggest buzzword of the recent decade, but increasingly, companies are realizing that without creative ideas, there is no innovation.

As an article by Destination Innovation writes, “Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual. Innovation is the implementation of something new.” Therefore, in order to implement something new (i.e. innovation) one must first conceive something new (i.e. creativity). You cannot have the former without the latter.

What can you do to be more creative, then? What can your credit union or organization do to encourage your employees to engage in activities that make them more creative, and in turn, bring about more innovation?

Brainstorming

American business culture traditionally has focused on productivity over creativity, with social media, podcasts, and business books speaking to the importance of hard work as the keys to success. More and more a second line of thought is emerging that encourages periods of consciously slowing down, as the key to a successful work/life balance.

During this “unproductive” time, it is hypothesized that people give their unconscious mind the opportunity to do some heavy lifting. It can be as simple as blocking off “creative time” on your calendar or taking a walk after drafting an important email. As with everything, balance is key in this area, but scheduling dedicated time for reflection may in fact be a big win for you at work. For many, this may be a difficult task, as we are trained to believe such time is counteractive to productivity, but the truth is they go hand-in-hand.

Collaboration

Research also suggests that encouraging collaboration increases the number of creative ideas in an organization. The sharing of different ideas between people tends to expand people’s thinking processes, causing novel ideas to be shared across an organization. Again, constructs assist with encouraging “collaborative” idea sharing.

One route we have taken at my CUSO is our knowledge-sharing program, Win the Lotto. Employees schedule meetings with the Writing Team to share their specialized information and get it into our documentation. By taking time to talk directly to other staff, our team gains different insights into how to explain things for different audiences. These discussions alone can often bring about new ideas or simpler ways to complete tasks.

Dedication

The next logical step in nurturing an environment that fosters creativity is to support your employees in carving out time to work on the two previously recommended tasks. Ask management to promote efforts to be more collaborative and take time for reflection. This support can be done in team meetings, via a report to the Board of Directors, or whatever means you have for public comment. By reinforcing the practice, management is also encouraging the most creative work.

Creativity is getting more play in the discussions about work culture in recent years. I hope this article makes you consider slowing down, at least some of the time to get your best inventive self out and about. You will be glad you invested in yourself, your team, and your credit union.

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