Culture Building: Tips for Cultivating a Creative Tech Workforce
Creativity is a driving force behind the tech industry. Every new idea, solution to a complex problem, and innovative discovery comes from people. However, far too many of us fall into “the daily grind"—routine that gets way too comfortable and eventually dries up workplace creativity.
Modern employers will know how to stimulate the flow of ideas to build a culture that’s just as productive as it is creative.
Understand the importance of creativity in the tech industry.
When people think of technology they think of new concepts and progress. But teams can't solely rely on tech to solve all their problems. In reality, it's employee creativity allows companies to tackle complex hurdles and optimize the way tools are used. New ideas have no chance of surviving without a champion or vehicle.
You can look to high-performing tech companies to see how they are building a company culture of creativity and fostering idea-sharing between employees and teams. It goes beyond ping pong tables. Open workspaces are almost old hat by now, but they are a great start. Forbes has suggested that a “Chief Happiness Officer” like the one at Google is what many workers want and need to ensure they are engaged in their work life and satisfied in their roles. “Breakout areas” are another trend and allow people to hash out new ideas in a comfortable, unique space. There are many ideas out there—it’s a matter of doing some research to find out what will work with the space and budget you have.
Keep employees mentally engaged.
Creating a culture of creativity starts with clearing the way for the flow of ideas. These tips can help make innovation a natural part of the workplace:Allow potential employees to voice their ideas.
Many hiring managers keep interview conversations about the basic requirements for the job. Set aside a section of time, or issue a questionnaire that gives candidates a space to voice their own ideas. This way you can absorb fresh perspectives from people even earlier, and it also makes candidates feel like you value their ideas and aren't just going off a script during interviews.Look out for creative candidates.
Along with testing their hard skills, try to gauge the creativity of a potential employee during the interview process. Pay attention to the questions they ask, and ask some in return. Inquiring about how they have handled work-related issues or challenges in the past will give you insight into their thought process.Foster both technical and soft skills.
These should be encouraged in equal measure throughout the workday. Forbes Magazine calls creativity “the skill set of the future,” and rightly so. With so many schools shifting their focus to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), creativity is sometimes overshadowed. Encourage employees to apply new ideas to their programming efforts to facilitate critical thinking.Be liberal with vacation time.
Burnout is a very real thing in the tech industry; it’s all too common for employees to hit a limit and go on auto-pilot. Flex time, remote work opportunities, and good old-fashioned vacations allow employees to reboot and start thinking originally again. Getting people out of the office environment can break them out of their creative funk.Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
Make brainstorming sessions a regular part of the work week by dedicating time to sharing creative ideas. This can help create solutions across departments and connect everyone in their long-term goal to build a better company. One person may have the missing part of the puzzle another employee has been missing. Bringing them together is the key.Reward creativity and encourage new ideas with incentives.
When an employee offers up an original solution, a critical analysis, or an innovative new method, listen! Send out a company-wide acknowledgment of their efforts or create a rewards program. Recognition can encourage other employees to jump on the creativity bandwagon. New ideas won't always hit the mark, but a single great idea can change the trajectory of an entire company.Take field trips.
Working in the same environment every day can stifle the creative spirit. Gathering in creative places, outdoor venues, or just somewhere picturesque can stimulate new ideas and help employees reset.Don’t shame people who ask questions.
Encourage people to ask questions and reward their questions with patience. There are times when highly intelligent or creative people need to break information into smaller segments to better analyze everything. Allowing them to gather information piece by piece enables them to learn and think in a way that best gets their creative juices flowing.Stay open-minded.
As an employer, it’s easy to shove new ideas on the back burner in favor of a method that’s tried and tested. While maintaining daily operations is essential, always make time to apply new techniques and measure the results.
Creative culture building means hiring creative talent.
Creativity is the lifeblood of tech. Knowing how to infuse your workplace culture with new ideas is essential to progress. This all starts with a tech recruiting process that identifies both creativity and fundamental programming skills.
Take a look at our ebook for more information on how to fine-tune your hiring methods and gauge candidates' collaboration style: