Creative Thinking in the Workplace

Approximately 94 percent of hiring managers say that it’s important to consider creativity when interviewing candidates for a job. At the same time, though, 35 percent of workers say they’re only given chances to be creative a few times per year. 

If you’re not giving yourself and your team opportunities to be creative while on the job, you (and the company) could be missing out on a lot of great benefits. Read on to learn more about the importance of creative employees and creative employers.

Types of Creativity

When many people think of creativity, they think about being good at drawing or telling stories. In reality, though, there are many different types of creativity. According to Arne Dietrich, an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, creativity can be divided into four main categories:

Deliberate and Cognitive Creativity

Deliberate and cognitive creativity stems from long-term, sustained work in a specific discipline. An example of a deliberately and cognitively creative person is the inventor Thomas Edison, who ran multiple experiments before coming up with new inventions.

Deliberate and Emotional Creativity

Deliberate and emotional creativity stems from a feelings-focused place, rather than a place of intense focus and repetitive action. People who are deliberately and emotionally creative require lots of quiet time to think and reflect without interruptions. 

Spontaneous and Cognitive Creativity

Spontaneous and cognitive creativity requires the conscious brain to stop working on a problem so that the unconscious part of the brain can step in. 

An example of this type of creativity is the story of Isaac Newton developing an understanding of gravity by watching an apple fall out of a tree. Spontaneous and cognitive creativity typically involves stepping away from the problem, doing something else, and then coming back to it later.

Spontaneous and Emotional Creativity

Spontaneous and emotional creativity is often described as the type of creativity possessed by great artists and musicians. These creative moments typically come out of the blue and occur when a person is at rest or engaged in a different, unrelated activity.

Benefits of Creativity in the Workplace

Creativity and creative thinking bring a lot of benefits to the workplace. Here are some of the top benefits to keep in mind:

Improved Problem-Solving

When team members have more opportunities to be creative while at work, it’s easier for them to come up with unique, effective solutions for various problems. 


When you allow space for your employees to think outside of the box, you’ll be amazed at the ideas they can come up with for addressing issues and helping the company to be more productive and profitable.

Increased Connection Between Employees

Employees who have opportunities to be creative and aren’t shamed for coming up with new ideas often have an easier time collaborating and feeling closer to one another. Stronger connections between employees allow for a more open-minded workplace where people have an easier time stepping outside of their comfort zones.

Increased Engagement

If employees are encouraged to be creative and think outside of the box, they’re going to be more inclined to be engaged and invested while at work. 

Higher levels of engagement, in turn, lead to lots of great things for the entire company. This includes better decision-making, better problem-solving, increased productivity, higher levels of job satisfaction, and higher employee retention rates.

Increased Motivation

Employees who are encouraged to be creative (and also given space to be creative in their own ways) tend to be more motivated than those who aren’t allowed to flex their creative muscles. Motivated employees, like engaged employees, tend to produce better results and are more likely to stick with a company long-term.

Reduced Stress

In a work environment where creativity is discouraged and employees are forced to stick with the status quo, it’s understandable that stress levels would be high. 

When employees are chronically stressed and on the verge of burnout, their productivity is likely to suffer. They may be more inclined to skip work or be disengaged during the workday. 

This affects the company’s profitability, can stall team performance, and can lead to higher employee turnover rates. 

Improved Self-Development

Workers who are encouraged to be creative also, in many cases, have more opportunities to work on their self-development. This can lead to improvements in self-esteem and workers’ drive to develop their skills and improve. 

When workers are driven to become better versions of themselves, the whole company benefits from their enhanced skills and increased motivation.

How to Improve Creativity at Work

Are you intrigued by the benefits of creative thinking in the workplace but unsure of how to start fostering creativity among your employees? If so, consider taking one of the following places:

Make Space for Brainstorming

For them to be creative and come up with new ideas or solutions, many people need space and time. They need open blocks in their schedule where they can sit and think alone or get together with a few coworkers to brainstorm and throw out ideas without judgment. 

Make sure you’re creating space for employees to brainstorm and reflect in a way that makes sense for them and their unique needs.

Respect Employees’ Individuality

Speaking of unique needs, make sure you’re respecting your employees’ individuality when it comes to their creative process. Some of your employees might do better by skipping team meetings and spending time alone to solve problems, whereas others may have an easier time coming up with ideas in a group setting. 

Take time to learn about each person’s preferences and style so you can accommodate them and set them up for success.

Create a Stimulating Atmosphere

As much as you can, try to make your office a stimulating atmosphere that encourages creativity. 

Drab, dimly lit rooms often aren’t the best environments for coming up with new ideas and solving problems. Introduce colourful decorations into the office, bring in some potted plants to add life to the workplace, and allow workers to decorate their spaces in ways that spark creativity for them, specifically.

Ask for Suggestions

One way to encourage creativity is to openly solicit suggestions from employees. 

Anonymous suggestions boxes can be a great starting point because they give people the freedom to share ideas without worrying about judgment. However, hopefully, over time your team will eventually get to a place where they feel confident sharing their ideas out loud, with their names attached.

Act on Employees’ Good Ideas

One way to increase confidence and foster more creativity in the future is to act on employees’ good ideas. If someone makes a good suggestion or has a creative solution to a problem, find a way to work with them and make it happen. 


Remember, if your team sees that you never take their suggestions into account, they’re going to stop making them. Then, you’ll be right back to square one.

Diversify Your Team

Finally, when you’re hiring new team members, make sure you’re making a concentrated effort to bring on a variety of people. Look for people from different backgrounds who have unique education history or work history. The more diverse your team is, the easier it will be for them to come up with new ideas and solutions.

Become More Creative Today

From new ideas to improved collaboration, there are lots of ways that creativity can improve the workplace. If you think you and your team could benefit from more creativity, give the tips listed above a try today.