Creativity in the Workplace, Part 1: Why Teach Creativity

An easel with a painting of a bar graph on a purple backdrop.

Creativity in the workplace is a hot skill: According to the LinkedIn Learning 2019 Workplace Learning Report, “creativity is the single-most in-demand skill for companies to cultivate in their employees”—beating out collaboration, persuasion, analytical reasoning and adaptability.

That’s because creativity—the ability to solve problems in novel ways—leads to greater innovation across the entire organization. Forrester research found that organizations emphasizing creativity achieve better metrics than their competitors in “revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.”

Creative companies are more competitive

Businesses benefit from a culture of creativity for many reasons.

For one thing, creative people are more open to trying new things. In an era where technology changes at lightning speed, a willingness to adopt new ways of doing things can keep a company ahead of more conventional competitors. That adaptive mentality also empowers creative companies to innovate customer experiences and inspire customer loyalty.

A culture that rewards creativity in the workplace inspires workers to think, problem-solve and feel invested in their work and in their company. These employees are likely to stay with the company, be more productive and take initiative in their own development, becoming star performers.

Build creativity into your corporate brand

Fostering creativity can help an organization attract and retain top talent. The Forrester report found that companies that support creativity in the workplace are three times more likely to win “best place to work” awards than less-creative peers.

Integrating innovation into the company’s brand impacts hiring as well as market share. Stamp everything from recruiting materials to your interview and onboarding process with evidence of your company’s invigorating environment and forward-thinking culture to attract top applicants.

Your company can then hold on to those new hires by developing employees’ skills, including soft skills like creativity and critical thinking, through learning management system-based training or workshops. According to the LinkedIn Learning report, 94% of employees would put more time in with a company that invested in their learning and development.

Creativity is the antidote to automation

Artificial intelligence is automating routine tasks, from booking meeting rooms to ordering lunch, in industries from media to manufacturing. Whether a human asks a virtual assistant for help or a robot takes over a task completely, automation is changing the nature of many employees’ work, underscoring the need for creativity. Offloading repetitive or routine work frees up employees for uniquely human tasks like ideating, solving complex problems and designing new and better experiences.

Creativity can be taught

Many adults have misconceptions about creativity, believing that all creative people are artistic, for example, or that creativity is innate and cannot be learned.

But, just as they can become better communicators or adopt new approaches to handling conflict, people can practice skills that nurture their creativity. Figuring out how to teach creativity starts with focusing on teachable skills, like coming up with multiple solutions to a problem or examining concepts from different perspectives. Managers who practice these skills and encourage open discussions where employees can freely suggest new ideas will be on their way to a greater expression of creativity in the workplace.

Check out part 2 of this Creativity in the Workplace series to learn how to teach your workforce to be creative.