How to Show Creativity at Work (With Tips and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 December 2022

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Showing creativity at work can help you work with colleagues to improve an organisation's products, services and business practices. Creative thinking can also ensure the business remains financially competitive, which may boost your long-term earning potential as a result. Understanding how to use your creativity at work may help you capitalise on this skill. In this article, we define creativity at work, offer tips on the creative process and explain the skills you might use to be creative.

What is creativity at work?

Creativity at work is a professional skill that involves using new perspectives to devise solutions or approach projects with innovation. You can use individual creativity to offer teammates a new outlook on a particular concept. Creativity in the workplace may lead to a more unified team, increasing general productivity as a result. Examples of workplace creativity include:

  • asking junior employees for their help to resolve a management-level problem

  • remembering details about customers, such as their names or birthday, to make a service seem more personal

  • making a product or service seem more relatable to customers through targeted marketing

  • finding common interests between a colleague and yourself, to build a positive relationship long term

  • delegating responsibilities based on an employee's personality, not just their qualifications

What is the creative process?

Though creativity itself can be spontaneous, you may wish to follow a structured approach when developing an idea. The following section details the five core stages of the creative process:

1. Research

It's important to conduct background research to begin developing an idea. During this process, you can discover whether other people developed similar concepts in the past. If these concepts were unsuccessful, you might learn what actions could prevent mistakes. You may also find out what equipment you can use to complete a task, such as software or manual tools. You might find useful information more quickly using a search engine to research your topic.

For example, if you wish to create a new consumer product, you might research a market's history. You may examine products that are already available alongside other firms' past failures. You can then discover whether room exists for further competition and whether consumers might welcome this competition.

2. Information processing

Once you've completed your background research, you can process what you've discovered. You can review the information gathered and attempt to find examples of consumer trends to develop a product. You can ask colleagues to help you analyse data before trading insights in search of a more comprehensive solution. Consider disconnecting from your problem by taking regular breaks. By doing this, you can reduce pressure, making it easier for potential ideas to emerge.

3. Inspiration

As you continue communicating ideas with others on your team, you might identify connections between people and data that you initially missed. You can also use the trends you identified in the earlier steps of the process to create potential action plans.

When developing a new product, you can identify a core target market via data analysis. You can then further research this audience to understand their needs and desires.

4. Testing

At this point, you might evaluate whether your idea is worth pursuing. Consider seeking third-party opinions to establish a more objective image of the concept's utility. For example, if you're designing a new product, you might test its commercial viability and consult market experts or your target audience. You can then use this feedback to understand the concept's weaknesses better, making any changes accordingly.

It's also important to consider whether you might enjoy putting this idea into practice. You may focus on a concept you're interested in rather than one that is financially lucrative. If you're enthusiastic about a project, you may be more willing to work hard to complete it.

5. Implementation

Finally, you may deliberate the optimal way to implement your ideas. You might use mood boards and written action plans to identify potential obstacles. You can then devise solutions on how you might overcome them. By conducting thorough planning, you might delegate duties to junior colleagues confident that they understand your overall intent. It's also important to be resilient during this process, particularly if you draft several plans before concluding. You may use previous drafts as reference points to draw from, combining elements to create a comprehensive design plan.

For example, when designing a new concept, you might consider obstacles to your product's release, such as labour costs or limited capital. You then devise creative solutions to overcome these issues, such as hiring agency employees or finding an investor.

Related: Why Your Company Needs a Business Strategy (With Examples)

Examples of creativity skills

You might wish to accrue the appropriate hard and soft skills to display creativity in the workplace. Hard skills are technical abilities that you can learn from hands-on industry experience. Conversely, soft skills are useful personality traits, such as empathy. Six useful skills include:

Related: 9 Character Traits That Attract Employers

Technical skills

You can take steps to acquire technical knowledge relevant to your industry by earning certifications or gaining practical experience. Specialist understanding might help you contribute to workplace discussions, offer credible solutions to creative problems and create strategies.

Technical skills are often specific to certain industries. For example, if you're a software engineer or web developer, you may be proficient in different coding tools. You might also have prior experience engaging in ethical hacking to identify and resolve security flaws in a firm's intranet network. Conversely, as a graphic designer, you might be well-versed in different digital photo-editing techniques, such as adjusting contrast or cropping. You may also be aware of consumer trends before creating both physical and digital content marketed towards these trends.

Attention to detail

It's essential that you pay close attention to details, such as statistics and customer feedback, to be creative at work. Being perceptive can help you identify valuable trends within data. You can use these trends to understand your target audience better when developing or marketing a product. As a result, you might create products that are commercially successful, potentially increasing your company's total revenue.

You may also observe your own behaviour at work, noticing any productivity concerns before taking steps to resolve them. For example, you might decide to boost your weekly output by removing distractions such as mobile phones from your workspace. This disciplined approach to work responsibilities may help you be more creative by allowing you to focus on your tasks.

Risk-taking

It's important you're comfortable taking risks at work to ensure your organisation can remain commercially competitive long term. You may offer senior colleagues ideas on improving productivity through innovation, such as encouraging remote working. You might then assist colleagues to assess the benefits of innovation in ensuring any change is cost efficient. You can use unsuccessful ventures to learn from mistakes, reshaping your creative goals to suit changing circumstances.

Related: What Is Divergent Thinking? (And How to Develop This Skill)

Acceptance of feedback

By accepting constructive feedback, you can learn to consider other perspectives. Examining ideas from alternate perspectives may help you be more creative at work because it allows you to consider ideas from different angles. You can also develop a more balanced approach to work duties, avoiding mistakes by analysing problems from other perspectives. Over time, you may find this process becomes automatic, as you seek others' opinions to improve your own performance. These actions can help you build mutually trusting relationships with co-workers, making it easier to support one another again in the future.

Related: How to Give (and Accept) Constructive Criticism

Unconventionality

To maximise your creativity, it's important that you engage in unconventional thinking. For example, you may approach a challenge from multiple perspectives to understand the benefits and consequences of each potential solution. By doing this, you can offer innovative solutions to problems that others might not have considered. If you're attuned to creative thinking, you might find firms place high value on your services.

Realism

It's essential to balance unconventionality with realism to put creativity to good use. This can help you capitalise on creativity by pursuing the ideas with the most merit. You can apply realism to the creative process at work by eliminating any ideas from the planning stage that you couldn't implement with your current resources.

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