Getting employees to be put their best ideas forward is what every workplace wants. To solve this conundrum, start-ups and international powerhouse sometimes turn to slides and games rooms to nurture peak creative thinking. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time, resources, or budget to transform their office in these ways. That means business leaders must look elsewhere for more accessible and time effective solutions.
Here are some ways you can get the best out of your employees and accelerate innovation in your workplace.
The power of rituals
Since the dawn of time, groups of people have solidified their relationships through rituals. From dancing in unison around the campfire to chanting self-empowerment mantras, we have historically performed ceremonious acts to cultivate stronger purpose and deeper connections with those around us. One way to accelerate innovation is to design a workplace ritual, which circles around new ideas and honesty.
The best performing organizations have realised that implementing certain rituals can transform ‘business as usual’ into ‘business beyond belief’.
Frederik G. Pferdt, a team leader at Google, instilled a ritual where at the beginning of every weekly team meeting, everyone shares a failure. The idea is to promote psychological safety and comfort around failure. If everyone in the team is open and truthful about their faults, it helps promote relatability motivation, and more importantly, potential for growth.
At Facebook’s Analog Research Lab in Menlo Park, employees can design any posters they want on a topic important to them and place it anywhere in the building. This goes deeper than simple artistic expression from Facebook staff. This is about celebrating of openness, community, and shared space, which are all values that sit at the centre of the company’s mission. Inspiration and innovation go hand in hand.
Innovation means walking into foreign territories and embracing the unknown. By incorporating inexpensive ritual practices, you give everyone who partakes in the experience a stronger sense of identity and license to express themselves freely. All rituals will be different depending on the company. They can be as peculiar or as innovative as you like. Work with your team to come up with your own ritual and make it an empowering habit that everyone can get behind.
Change the scene
To balance workplace harmony and harness disruptive thinking, leaders should also consider how they utilize the space around them. This can either mean physical upgrades to the office or a day to day procedural change.
When it comes to spatial design, flexible layouts help to create a more relaxed atmosphere. If there’s an empty room that’s rarely used, purchase some affordable comfortable furniture and design an inviting space. These welcoming work zones will improve collaboration and get employees bouncing ideas off each other in no time.
If a physical redesign isn’t something you can accommodate right now, consider changing your workplace formalities. Encourage your staff to get up and take a walk around the office or step outside for a few minutes. Staying physically active is a great way to keep the idea factory churning. Some of the best eureka moments come when we least expect it through more random interactions in spontaneous locations.
Taking it one step further, schedule your meetings beyond the office and change up your scenery. Encourage people to take their conversation outside, debrief on the couch, or hold brainstorms at a local coffee shop. A study conducted by Jack P. Callaghan, a professor in spine biomechanics, advocates we should be standing more than we should be sitting. This may sound daunting for those who have desk jobs. However, it demonstrates how important movement and simple exercise is for our creative spirit and physical health. Get the idea mills in motion and turn your static conversations mobile.
Maximize employee potential
According to POME, a North American study involving 3,000 millennials, entry-level workers care less about their job titles and focus more on their job progression. It’s important for the largest generation in today’s workforce to feel that what they do everyday has meaning and purpose. They don’t want to only deal with their expected duties and responsibilities. They want to be tested and feel like they’re contributing to the vision, mission, and success of the organization.
The best thing to do is ask your employees if there’s any unchartered territory they’d like to explore. You’d be surprised how much more creative and committed they become once they have the freedom to work on projects that excite and inspire them.
One way to encourage and support that excitement is through a learning fund. This gives employees a small budget that they can use on learning experiences outside the office that contributes to their overall career development.
If you build a workplace mentality that develops multiple skillsets and allows employees to spend time doing what they enjoy, this will feed back into their daily workplace psyche. This high level of employee satisfaction improves overall business morale and leads to an increase in innovation thinking and creative spark.
Invest a little, gain a lot
Every employee can help with organization innovation, regardless of their role. It’s just a matter of creating the right office conditions and nurturing talent.
Leave the old ways of working in the past. Companies need to start thinking about how they mentor, guide, and inspire their employees to spark creativity and innovative thinking.
By developing shared mission-centric rituals, optimizing the workspace environment, and nurturing talent, culture-first companies will gain a huge competitive advantage over their rivals. Implement these strategies and empower employees to bring their best ideas forward.