Did you know that studies have shown supporting and encouraging creativity in your workplace can boost productivity by as much as 20%? Leading business publications have recognized creativity and play as a vital necessity in a productive and innovative workplace. According to Forbes, Entrepreneur, HuffPost, Monster and Harvard, some of the key benefits of adding creativity and play to your work environment are:
Employees Feel Valued
If you’ve ever read anything about early childhood learning, you know that play is education. However, it doesn’t stop with childhood - it’s equally true for adults. Intentional play and recreation can lead to learning in unexpected ways that benefit the individual as well as the work environment. The novelty of having fun and engaging with the unexpected can lead to new breakthroughs in creative thinking which can foster innovation in the workplace even when you’ve stopped goofing off.
Blowing off steam and allowing your team to express their personalities with each other leads to closer interpersonal relationships which can boost communication in the office. If you had a great time at a team-building event last week with a colleague, you may be more inclined to go to them for help on a problem or sorting out an issue at work because you feel connected to them more deeply.
With our busy lives we seldom have time to slow down and enjoy ourselves. Setting aside time and space to do this in the workplace can reduce employee stress and give them an enjoyable outlet. We all know that less stress is better for everybody; it helps us think more clearly and it helps our colleagues perform better when they have a drama-free office. Letting go of stress for even a few minutes can be like unblocking a pipeline of ideas that have the freedom to flow when we give ourselves the gift of creating and playing.
An added benefit is our brains physically change when we are creative. When we perform a novel task, our brains form neuropathways, like roads to ideas. When we experiment with new creative experiences, our brains are laying down fresh roads. The more often we travel these roads the stronger they become. Thus, creative thinking at play leads to more and faster creative thinking at work which results in productivity that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise.
We all want our team to be invested in our projects and their outcome, and the first step to that is an emotional investment in the company and the people we work with. We want people we care about to succeed, and we want our colleagues to care about our collective efforts. When we foster creativity and play at work those positive personal associations are transferred to the people and environment in which they happen. Your office can literally become your happy place.
Creativity at the office makes for a healthier, more present workforce. When we foster a place where employees feel connected, encouraged, energized, and supported, they want to come to work. People are healthier overall and experience less sickness and therefore fewer sick days.
Another advantage to offering our team members opportunities for creativity and play is that it makes them feel valued as people. When you show your colleagues that you are concerned about them as individuals, not just their end results, they feel important, more motivated, and ultimately, they perform better. When people feel they are being valued they want to live up to that expectation.
There are a number of ways for us to implement creativity in your workplace on small and large scales, and they don’t have to break the bank or eat up an entire work day. You can structure brain breaks into your workday where you take five minutes to check in with your team by doing a quick group activity on a regular basis. Mad-libs are a favorite, as they can be silly and quick and are a great way to get people talking. You could pick up a pre-printed booklet, or have employees come up with their own related to your office or a group project. An office scavenger hunt can be a fun way to get people up and moving and laughing. Perhaps a quick trip to the closest ice cream or smoothie shop at lunch could get everyone out of their silos and talking. There are lots of fun and quick games that can stir creative juices within the workday, maybe even start a suggestion box for your team to chip in ideas.
There are also a ton of dedicated team building activities that companies can invest in to dig a little deeper into creative thinking. Some of the most popular ones are creative workshops, escape rooms (be careful with these however, as they can amplify office conflict as easily as create team bonding,) office picnics or field days, days out to a theme park or other fun attraction, drum circles, and so on. Gather your team together, brainstorm about their favorite activities, and plan your next outing; your team will thank you for it and you will all reap the benefits.