biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: Encouraging Creativity in Your Employees

by Stephanie

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Chicago-based interior designer, Sarah Stevenson. Sarah dedicates her work to helping artists and creative people in all fields carve out space for themselves, and she is the founder of the Create Explore Discover Art Retreat, an annual getaway in Lake Tahoe that brings together women for creative workshops. In this post, Sarah shares her methods for keeping the creative juices flowing in the workplace. Thanks, Sarah, for this inspiring piece! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

For me, the people who interact with my business and work with me on projects are my most valuable resource. In order for them to maintain their creativity and be able to provide creative responses on projects, it is imperative that their creativity be encouraged and not stifled during the project process. In Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, he writes, “Businesses are realizing that the only way to differentiate their goods and services in today’s overstocked marketplace is to make their offerings physically beautiful and emotionally compelling.” As creatives, we are blessed with this innate ability to provide new, unique and beautiful products to our clients, but how do we constantly produce in a busy, often taxing design environment?

Allot Space for Outside Creativity during the Workday

Taking time to step away from the tasks at hand allows our brains to recharge and reengage, gives the artist an opportunity to explore something personally interesting and helps her return to the project at hand with much more enthusiasm. A design manager I worked for in Chicago used to schedule special trips with her female management staff to visit art exhibits at various locations around the city. This would remove us from our office environment and expose us to a completely different side of art and design. It was inspiring, the managers got to know each other on a different level, and it allowed each of us to explore something that we otherwise may not have had time to do.

Build Fun into the Workday

A time to play and explore just as we did as children is coming back to the workplace. Toys and games are being added to design projects so that employees have an outlet during long meetings and training sessions. Who wouldn’t want to play a game of Scrabble or throw a NERF ball as a release? Adding crayons, markers and a space to draw is also a great release. Think about restaurants you visit that have paper tablecloths and a container of markers on the table? Why not bring this into your studio or workspace? Fun does not have to take away from project time; it can be a quick 15-minute break to do something different and once again, reenergize your brain for creative thinking.


A great design library is the best way I know to provide inspiration to design staff. Having all the latest books, magazines and blogs available to use as a jumping-off point gives the artist a break from their creating but also allows inspiration gathering to occur at a different level. Providing a space for inspiration boards gives each person an opportunity to express her personal style and design aesthetic, thus allowing more of her individual self to appear in their projects. Being able to see what your designers are interested in also can help you build better teams for projects, as you start to see inside the minds of your designers.

Schedule Group Gatherings

There is nothing more beneficial for you and your employees than in-office and out-of-office gatherings. Showing your staff you care about them by providing space for them to get to know you and each other better is one step toward retention. The more value you place on the individuals working for you, the more likely they are to stay and grow their careers at your firm.

Structure the Workday

Providing space to create, a schedule of projects, staff assignments and project requirements are extremely helpful for creative staff. Define the project teams and responsibilities up front, have regular check-in visits with the team and reward them along the way for a job well done.

Say Thank You

By far, having gratitude and saying thank you as you see your employees staying late, working hard on projects, growing client business and being a team player is more valuable than any other source of work-related creativity. A small note of appreciation, a personal thank you and a pat on the back make people feel wanted and part of the team.

Creatives are already right-brain thinkers, but they also need care and nurturing in order to keep creating. In our pursuit to design a better future for our businesses and our creative staff, applying these simple steps can help us get there that much quicker.

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  • This was an awesome post! I don’t work in a creative environment but this sure makes me wish I did. :) Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Wonderful article even for an amateur artist of 89, in a small Art Group. When I realized that God, the CREATER, created us like unto His image; so that makes each of us creative in some way, it stimulated me to return to art – clean, only pencils needed.

  • As a new business, gratitude creativity in the office is important to me. You have given me a lot to work with here to inspire my employees to be more creative, and productive and enjoy the team culture at work. Thank you.

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