In 1996, Swedish psychologist and researcher Göran Ekvall uncovered 10 elements of a creatively-supportive climate, including challenge, trust and openness, playfulness and humor, freedom, debate and risk-taking. The more these factors are present in a workplace, the more creative the behavior of staff, says Paul Reali, co-author of “Big Questions in Creativity” and “Creativity Rising.”
“A creative workplace produces higher engagement, higher performance, higher retention, and higher rewards,” she adds.
And creativity isn’t just required for generating ideas. Developing and implementing those ideas also takes some innovation.
“We are all creative thinkers,” says Amy Frazier, an organizational and leadership development consultant, teacher and writer. “A creative employee has the ability to be open to families and their experiences. It will signal to youth you are open to who they are and empower them.”
Thinking creatively can benefit any youth-serving organization, whether by helping staff connect with families, create new programs or raise funds.
Here are a few ways to get your staff involved:
- Give permission. There are many ways that permission to be creative can be provided, or withheld, says Reali. Permission requires more than verbal support. Foster a climate of creativity by providing resources—people, dollars, time—for employees to pursue their ideas. And be sure to greet occasional mistakes or failure with support and encouragement, not punishment.
- Mix it up. Variety is stimulating, and a forced change in perspective can generate new thinking, Frazier says. Encourage employees to adapt their workspaces to their liking, or hold meetings in different places, at different times, in different ways. (Consider standing meetings and even walking meetings.)
- Move around. We often don’t consider how our bodies contribute to thinking, Frazier says. It’s important to get up and move every 20 minutes to stay refreshed and keep your brain open to thinking. Go for a walk, dance a little, interact with your coworkers.
“Playfulness goes hand in hand with creative thinking,” Frazier says.
- Measure and nurture. Once you’ve established a climate that strongly supports creativity, Reali suggests regularly taking stock of that climate so it can be continuously nurtured and strengthened.