Updated: Apr 7
By Robyn Short, President & CEO, Workplace Peace Institute
Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.
Creativity is essential to innovation. As global and local problems become increasingly complex, organizations must prioritize cultivating creativity as a core attribute of workplace culture. In a previous article, I identified five core attributes essential to building a workplace culture of dignity. Creativity makes that list.
Creativity is a process that begins with a genuine encounter with a business need and involves an intense absorption into an idea, thought, and/or desire. Research conducted by Workplace Peace Institute found that to experience creativity in the workplace, employees need to experience independence, autonomy, intuition, and their own intrinsic power — free of expectations to conform to process or protocol.
To experience creativity, employees need to consistently experience dignity in the workplace. Dignity is our inherent worth and value as human beings. Creativity also has a correlation with trust. Trust is the belief that the words and actions of one’s leadership and coworkers will reliably align and that workplace processes will produce results that are in the best interest of the organization’s members, mission, and purpose.
Cultural Attributes That Optimize Creativity in the Workplace
To experience creativity, individuals need to trust that their voices will be heard and that their basic human needs, especially their need for freedom, will be honored.
In research conducted by Workplace Peace Institute, one research participant noted that when he believes that all voices are heard and that the basic human need for freedom (freedom to create and to explore) is honored, “People can collaborate to work toward problem-solving without fear of being judged, which leads to greater opportunities to collectively develop.” Other research participants noted the importance of experiencing psychological safety and acceptance of identity as critical to creativity.
Research conducted by Gallup found that when organizations' performance management
systems center on basic human needs, including psychological conditions such as acceptance, acknowledgment, recognition, fairness, and emotional safety, employees experience more engagement and contribute to the organization at higher levels. Our research supports the finding that creativity plays an important role in employee engagement.
Cultural Attributes That Suppress Creativity in the Workplace
There are specific cultural attributes that suppress independence and autonomy, and therefore, creativity. Specifically, expectations of perfectionism. Perfectionism prevents progress and leads to feelings of intimidation. When people feel intimidated, their need for psychological safety suppresses their freedom to take risks. One research participant noted, “When I feel safe and trusted and I am able to work independently, then creativity is experienced.” Organizations that layer excessive processes actually bog down progress and perpetuate a culture that relies heavily on tried and true methods.
Inclusivity in process is vital in order for all employees to experience equal freedom of expression and to contribute creatively to the organization. Innovation is enhanced when employees experience independence, autonomy, and the freedom to utilize their intuition and their own intrinsic power without an expectation to conform to process or protocol.
In summary, creating a highly creative workplace requires that leaders and managers have the leadership intelligences, communications skills, and trust among coworkers and team members to bring out the best in others. These are not skills inherent to traditional leadership approaches. If you want to create the conditions necessary for a highly creative workplace, consider leadership training for your executive leaders and managers so they can create a workplace where all people thrive. Schedule a complimentary consultation with Workplace Peace Institute to learn more.
Dr. Robyn Short is the president and CEO of Workplace Peace Institute – an organizational systems design and research firm that is singularly focused on creating workplace cultures where people thrive. Workplace Peace Institute supports small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model.