7 ways to promote creative liberty in the workplace

By Luke Fitzpatrick

Coworking office
Image source: 123RF

Businesses always look for new ways to build employee engagement and improve workplace culture. Still, many need to realize the importance of promoting creative liberty as a means to their end. 

Promoting engagement and productivity isn’t just an endless task; it also costs businesses significant money while improving operations. What if we told you that creative liberty could help you achieve your goals and save money?  

But what is creative liberty, and how can this be advantageous to the workplace? You’re in the right place if you’re unsure of these questions. Let’s discuss creative liberty, why businesses need to focus on creative liberty, some examples, and how you can start promoting creative liberty at your company.

What is creative liberty?

Before we get into the specifics of creative liberties, it’s essential that we first define what creative liberty is. Also known as ‘artistic license,’ creative liberty is a right that allows employees to deviate from the standard form for artistic purposes. Employees might steer away from the usual way of doing things to put their stamp on a project or find a new way of doing something. 

Artistic liberties are essential in making your colleagues, and their opinions feel valued. This gives your employees more freedom to conduct the business that makes sense to them and doesn’t necessarily conform to the norm within their art form — allowing them to find their way of doing something instead of conforming to a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to work. 

Artistic or creative liberties aren’t just for creative people. It’s simply about allowing your colleagues the creative freedom to express originality and doesn’t refer to a single task or project. Creative liberty has many different names depending on the context you might recognize; here are some examples: 

  • Poetic license. 
  • Dramatic license.
  • Narrative license. 
  • Creative license.

Why is creative freedom important?

creative thinking
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There are several reasons why fostering creative freedom in the workplace is essential and can be individual to a business, depending on its industry. With many organizations working remotely, allowing your employee’s creative freedom is all the more critical. Here are seven reasons why creative freedom can be advantageous to the workplace:

1. Builds engagement 

Businesses often refer to employee engagement, but the term can sometimes be ambiguous. Employee engagement is the emotional and physical commitment to a business’s cause. Sometimes, businesses fail to foster employee engagement due to poor communication strategies, lack of support, and lack of creative freedom. 

So why does this matter? Engagement, productivity, and workplace culture are all directly interlinked. It’s hard to have high productivity and a positive working environment if colleagues lack the drive to commit themselves to the business. 

Trust is the foundation of commitment. To get your colleagues to commit to a business’s goals, employers need to trust their capabilities and give them the autonomy to think and operate independently. If colleagues feel their employers trust them to contribute a sizable amount to company development, they may feel more inclined to have a vested interest in the company’s direction. 

Fostering this motivation has a significant impact on company engagement. Still, it’s essential to recognize and reward said independence if companies want to reap the full benefit of creative liberties. Consider rewarding colleagues for unleashing their creative potential to enhance company engagement.

2. Enhanced problem-solving skills 

Adversity is the mother of invention, and invention requires creativity. When employees face a problem, there is no better time to flex their creative muscles and develop innovative solutions to improve operations. 

Giving employees the creative freedom to develop constructive and innovative solutions can help them feel valued and build confidence. This is an excellent opportunity to build on valuable development and leadership skills that contribute to their career progression and help to build better company engagement. In short, providing reactive liberty can help you identify future leaders. 

Allowing colleagues this creative freedom can also be beneficial for future solutions. As colleagues build this confidence, they may feel more inclined to approach future problems with confidence and creativity, creating solutions that allow a business to progress and prosper. 

3. Adds to your competitive edge 

Speaking of invention, businesses that continue to promote creativity may find more opportunities to exploit gaps in the market and increase their scope of products and services. Colleagues may hold the key to the next big idea to help a business reach its fundamental development targets. 

That means businesses can increase their competitive edge by providing more creative freedom to their employees. Companies that foster creative freedom in all of their employees bring in a broader range of opinions, thoughts, and ideas for new business products. This can help you keep pace with a rapid market and separate you from the rest of the competition. 

Companies that don’t promote this creative freedom may often find themselves scrabbling for ideas, making them fall behind their competitors. So, promoting many different art forms can help a business keep its head above water, enhance productivity and find innovative solutions to complex issues. 

4. Better learning and development opportunities 

Providing more creative freedom to colleagues is an excellent way of offering more learning and development opportunities. Learning and development opportunities are critical to diversifying skill sets and personal career development. Employers promote individuality and creativity by providing better opportunities to grow into more senior roles. 

So how does this happen? Giving employees freedom allows them to make their way in the world, learn from mistakes and tailor their approach around the lessons they learn. This also helps them feel valued and trusted, building better lines of communication between colleagues. 

5. Positive company culture 

Many employers prioritize company culture but must realize the importance of treating employees as individuals. While always maintaining a vibrant company culture is impossible, reinforcing creative liberties can help breathe life into a business. 

Employees feel free to express their thoughts and opinions and develop relationships and progress. This is advantageous to business development as this provides an extra appeal to a business and can encourage new talent to join a business, diversifying its scope of talent and providing fresh insight and creativity. 

6. Promotes leaders 

As we previously mentioned, promoting a creative atmosphere in the workplace can help you identify future leaders. But how? When employees are allowed to be more independent, they develop critical self-management skills to help them manage other colleagues. 

Employees may feel more motivated to pursue leadership opportunities if they feel that their development and individuality are supported at a business. Businesses can promote larger senior management teams and increase their scope of operations. 

7. Better working relationships 

Let’s face it; everyone is happier when they feel supported by their employer. When employers support their colleague’s creativity and independence, employees may feel less tense and more motivated to be positive in the workplace. 

This leads to enhanced communication and positive and productive professional working relationships. As workplace conflict and poor communication are significant productivity inhibitors, employers will often find that the quality and quantity of work increase with better working relationships. 

What are some examples of creative liberty in the workplace?

Image source: 123RF

To help you fully understand creative liberty, here are some examples of artistic license in the workplace: 

Example 1: New social media strategy 

Social media strategies thrive on creativity. Social media strategies allow employees to get as creative as possible to hook their customers and build engagement. The most successful brands connect with their customers via hilarious social media posts by exploiting the latest social trends, which is a prime example of creative liberties. 

Example 2: New content marketing strategy

It’s safe to say that in this creative digital age, creating engaging content that is going to deeply resonate with your customers requires a profound level of liberty. Employees that are granted the time, space and trust will excel at being able to develop a thorough understanding of what their customers need, not just want.

Example 3: Instore display walls 

Do you work in a retail or customer-facing environment that thrives on visual appeal? Then you’re in luck. Creating display walls is a great chance to let your employees get creative and create stunning visuals that hook customers. Providing colleagues with such an opportunity allows them to use visual outlets to express their individuality, generate themes, and use their artistic skills to benefit a business. 

Example 4: Mentoring 

Mentoring is another prime example of where colleagues can use their creativity and individuality to guide their colleagues. Allowing an employee to mentor someone else is the ultimate sign of trust and expresses that you value their skills and leadership, allowing them to make a tangible change to their colleague’s working habits. 

Mentoring is also beneficial for identifying future leaders. This allows employees to experience the early stages of managing a team, identifying the most helpful management techniques, and learning from mistakes before their leadership. 

Example 5: Product brainstorming 

Product brainstorming is the ultimate example of creative liberties. This is an opportunity for colleagues to think outside the box and develop product and service ideas that they believe will benefit a business. 

In doing this, employers show that they trust their employee’s judgment and value their creative input. Allowing employees to contribute to the company is an excellent way to build engagement and create a personal connection between the employee and the business’s success. 

How can you promote creative liberty in the workplace?

creative idea
image source: 123RF

Now you know all about creative liberty, here is a step-by-step guide to promoting artistic license in the workplace: 

Step 1: Facilitate individuality 

When promoting creative liberties, treating all colleagues as different people is the best place to start. While this may sound simple, it can be challenging, especially if you manage a large team of professionals who fulfill a similar role. 

Recognizing that each employee is a person who can make essential contributions to a business’s success is a fundamental part of building better working relationships, helping colleagues feel valued, and ultimately building engagement. You can facilitate individuality by asking employees for feedback on business operations, including what they would do differently and their ideas for new business products. 

Step 2: Make sure that your environment is conducive to creativity

The work environment can play a sizeable role in creativity. For many people, it can be the difference between free-flowing thoughts and a creative block. Consider redesigning office space to facilitate better creativity, removing distractions, and incorporating more color and visual stimulus. 

Step 3: Encourage brainstorming 

Actively brainstorming can feel daunting for some individuals, especially if they feel as if product development or process generation falls outside of their pay grade. 

To fight against this, actively encourage brainstorming by holding regular focus groups or activity days where teams come together to think of new and innovative ideas. Consider incentivizing this with prizes and rewards that can motivate colleagues. This is also an excellent way to build more company engagement and productivity. 

Step 4: Incorporate anonymity into your creative process

Building on this, you can enhance brainstorming by incorporating anonymous means of communication. This is essential for making employees who may feel less inclined to publicly voice their opinions feel valued and included in company operations. 

Step 5: Act on these ideas 

The best way to facilitate creative freedom and show employees that creativity isn’t just for show is to act on their ideas. That demonstrates that you actively value their individuality, independence, and creative input. Actively doing this helps ensure employees remain engaged and committed to the company. 

Step 6: Diversify your talent pool 

One of the best ways to reap the rewards of creative freedom is to diversify the talent pool. This helps to bring in broader opinions and creative input and provides a fresh perspective to business operations. By diversifying the talent pool and promoting independence in new intake, employers can exploit new products and service ideas and facilitate engagement from the outset.

About the author

Luke Fitzpatrick

Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.

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