Technological advancement has triggered a surging demand for creative employees. Businesses playing on a level playing field in global markets must find ways to set up and sustain their competitive advantage.

Creativity can deliver differentiated products through innovative ideas while creating demand for a game-changing marketing strategy.

Some people seem more creative than others. In reality, however, situations can either stimulate or inhibit creativity. Companies do not need to weed through tons of applications, looking for someone who is naturally creative.

Sometimes firms have all the creative genius they need already on the payroll awaiting discovery. Use the following tips to begin constructing a creative environment in your workplace.

Support creativity

Make your business a place where people can freely express their ideas without fear of criticism or ridicule. Respectfully listen to everyone who has something to say, and set openness as your policy and practice. Even bad ideas can lead to good ones, so you can’t afford to intimidate people into silence.

Inspire curiosity and innovation by always asking for ideas and expressing appreciation when people participate in brainstorming. Rather than judge someone for their spontaneous expression, encourage the discussion of any topic to examine their potential for the firm.

At company meetings, assume the role of a facilitator, not a dictator, and watch your team shine. If you noticed some people have a reluctance to participate, create a suggestion box where people can write down their ideas and submit them anonymously. Insist on finding ways to include everyone and make them feel valued.

Encourage individuality

Meetings and peer pressure can suppress individuality in the workplace. Counter such forces by supporting every team member as they follow their instincts to solve problems and create new products and services.

Give people time to get the inspiration they need rather than demanding them to have creative ideas upon request. Ask your employees to engage in external activities that have no relevance to their work.

Examples to choose from could include surfing the Internet, reading a book, or chatting with friends. Also, try allocating a couple of hours on Friday afternoon for every employee to have time to themselves without distraction to reflect on their activities and build connections.

Relax… take it easy!

Stress in the workplace affects employee performance and health. It also affects creativity. Do your part to relieve stress by focusing on creating a positive mood within your firm. Doing so will expand perspectives and encourage the natural flow of ideas.

Encourage your team members to take breaks to boost productivity and stimulate thought. Integrate fun with the daily grind to promote relaxation and resilience.

Google and Facebook have built high-profile creative work systems that have employed fun as a productivity tool. Such approaches have led to positive, relaxing environments where creativity has flourished.

Create a stimulating environment

The physical layout of your office might have a bigger impact on your employees’ creative energy than you think. Reconsider your office layout to create a working environment that boosts productivity and improves workflows within your company.

A natural physical flow inspires a natural creative flow that will lead to the generation of the ideas your business needs.The office environment should encourage people to leave their desks to meet and chat with coworkers.

Discussions in lounges and at bars inside the workplace can lead to fantastic ideas. Other environmental factors such as colors and lighting affect productivity and mood. Similarly, noise levels affect comfort as do the physical characteristics of office furnishings.

Encourage diversity

Employers who discount diversity as a social or political issue harm themselves. People with similar backgrounds often think in similar ways, explaining why so many firms stagnate before reaching their potential. When your company needs to find new ways to deal with competitive challenges, diversity will answer the call.

People from different backgrounds bring different perspectives and thought processes to the table. Companies that can access a broad range of ideas can find innovative solutions to business problems that lead to cost reductions and efficiency gains.

Diverse ideas also lead to groundbreaking products and services that can hand your company competitive business advantages that last for years.

Groupthink and other phenomena often affect teams and departments within an organization. As time passes, groups tend to adopt similar thought patterns that perpetuate a rigid set of ideas and solutions.

Encourage interaction between teams to ensure that diversity exists at every level. Consider creating an online whiteboard or intranet where departments can intermingle. Develop a job rotation policy that stimulates creativity by having employees spend time working with different people and various departments.

Final words

Creativity will help your business overcome the level playing field created by technology by competing with a higher standard. Boosting creativity doesn’t require expensive additions to your payroll because you probably have incredible creative potential already on your team.

Bring out the creativity of your employees by encouraging free self-expression in a fabulous, diverse environment and watch creativity flourish along with your business.

Natalie Smith, a freelance writer from Seattle, follows topics related to entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, social media, and business in general. You can reach her @Natalie Smith