Creativity is often vastly undervalued and overlooked in the workplace. It shouldn’t be though. What boss would ever discount the importance of problem solving? Well, creativity is key in providing effective solutions to any issue that may arise at work. It’s the fuel for new ideas and innovation, so it’s absolute imperative to foster and promote creativity at the office. The last thing you want is a team that’s burned out and uninspired. Here’s how to avoid punch-in-punch-out syndrome and encourage creativity at work.

Reward creativity and thinking outside the box

If you want to encourage creativity at work, you have to reward it! When someone comes to you with a great new idea or unique solution to a problem, let them know how much you appreciate their hard work and clever insight. Take them out to lunch if that’s the kind of boss or team member you are! Treat them to drinks after work! By rewarding creativity and thinking outside the box, you’re emphasizing its value and encourage other employees to follow suit. Soon you’ll see more creative thinking sprouting up all over the office.

Allow flexibility in the workplace

Not everybody flourishes in a typical 9-to-5 work schedule. Flexible schedules increase overall employee happiness and productivity. Allowing for flexibility shows your team that you understand that they know how to manage their time and their work and value their autonomy and expertise. Flexibility opens up creativity and allows your employees to work with their natural energy rhythms. They can fire away when they have a good idea or stroke of inspiration, and they can decompress and take a moment for themselves when they need it. That’s essential to avoiding burnout! Trust in your employees and allow them to structure their workday to their liking, within reason of course. Nobody needs a three hour afternoon office nap.

Share new ideas and brainstorm together

Creativity probably isn’t lacking in the workplace, but it might not be getting acknowledged. Oftentimes, that’s the bigger issue. To encourage creativity at work, carve out time and space for it. Get your team together and bounce ideas off each other, without passing judgment. Spitball freely and see what happens. Approaching problems and projects from new angles in a supportive environment is imperative to creativity flourishing at the office. Be sure to listen to everybody’s contributions. It’s important for your team members’ voices to feel heard and understood. When a person knows that their opinions matter and are valued, they’ll perform far better.

Build a stimulating workplace environment

Fill your office with a variety of sensory experiences. By stimulating the senses, you stimulate the mind and jump start those creative juices. When your employees are stimulated, their minds open up and begin to think in new ways. Play classical or atmospheric music throughout the office. Hang interesting and thought provoking art on the walls. Try aromatherapy and allow uplifting and invigorating scents to waft.

Foster a fun and inclusive team culture

Team building and creativity go hand in hand. When your employees really do feel like a team, they will excel. Make sure everybody feels like they are included and valued. If an employee feels included in the office culture, they’ll be more open and willing to share unconventional ideas. Engage in team building activities, like happy hours or even a corporate retreat, to help your employees bond and build trust. When your team feels connected, they’ll easily work together to solve problems and generate new and unique ideas.