It’s all too easy to build a culture that kills ideas. Home Grown explores how retail CEOs and their teams can avoid stifling creativity to drive innovation at work.

Creativity drives business performance.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that creative organisations outperform their peers on key financial metrics such as organic growth (67% were above average) and total return to shareholders (70% were above average).

The case for fostering a culture of creativity also extends to innovation and staff retention.

In an article for Forbes earlier this year, Laura Hamill of employee engagement company Limeade said: “Creativity enhances employee wellbeing and engagement, and an engaged workforce is inherently more creative.”

Hamill also highlighted a 2018 Gallup survey, which assessed the benefits to business of promoting creativity in the workplace.

Notably, engaged employees were reported to be more confident in their decision-making, more open to taking risks and less likely to look for other jobs.

“Making sure everyone’s opinions – from the bottom up – are heard is the first step to harnessing creativity”

The benefits of creativity are clear, but is your retail business capturing the value?

From adopting creative practices internally to tapping into opportunities presented by members clubs such as Home Grown, here are three simple steps to engage your team:

Stop, collaborate and listen

It may sound obvious, but enabling your team to share ideas and making sure everyone’s opinions – from the bottom up – are heard is the first step to harnessing creativity.

Seek to create an evolving team dialogue and encourage regular brainstorms. You could take inspiration from fashion brand N Brown, which has made togetherness one of its core company values.

N Brown’s careers website explains: “There are few tasks and even fewer problems that can’t be tackled successfully through shared goals and working together.

“We’ve introduced a number of communication and engagement tools to make sure we keep our very best people and make it easy for everyone to stay up to date, stay connected and share information.”

Encourage your team and C-suite to take time out

We rarely have our best ideas while we are at work.

In fact, a study led by psychologist Scott Kaufman found our best ideas often come when we’re well away from the Office – in the shower, no less.

“We rarely have our best ideas while we are at work”

The reason? Creativity and insights come largely from our unconscious mind – unlike cognitive tasks that rely on analytical strategies in our conscious mind.

This explains why our best ideas don’t often come when we’re at our desks or in company meetings, but when we’re in a different environment altogether.

To benefit from idea breakthroughs, encourage your team to work remotely and flexibly (Tim Robson of NSU Media credits trips overseas for his creativity), and endorse networking.

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Home Grown is a new private club for business leaders

The more connections your team has with other retailers, business leaders and investors, the greater the opportunity for them to be inspired.

At Home Grown, we offer unrivalled opportunities to connect through our carefully curated events programme, which is focused not only on key skills gaps and networking, but also on wellbeing, balance and the essential soft skills of the future workplace.  

Our Rock Star Series will feature keynote and Q&A sessions with high-profile entrepreneurs and retail chief executives, including Simon Woodroffe of Yo! Sushi and interior design expert Kelly Hoppen, while other event offerings include specialist seminars on areas such as finance and management, alongside intimate monthly dinners.

Make creativity part of the working week

Some organisations actively encourage their employees to pursue creative projects or new and enterprising skills while at work.

Google’s founders encouraged employees to spend 20% of their work time on personal projects that would most benefit Google. And Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple have all operated similar policies.

Food and drink retailer Innocent has gone one step further – if an employee comes up with an idea that has a 70% chance of making a difference, they’re permitted to pursue the idea without asking permission. Innocent believes it’s better to try and fail, than to not try at all.

Retailers Asos and John Lewis have looked to instil creativity by running regular hackathons, company-wide events at which internal teams are tasked with finding a solution to a certain problem, or launching a new idea, within a 24-hour or 48-hour time frame.

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Home Grown is a unique new private club for business leaders, retail chief executives and high-growth entrepreneurs, opening its doors on April 3, 2019, at Great Cumberland Place, Marylebone, London.

Apply to be a member at homegrownclub.co.uk.

Members selected before the club’s opening will receive an exclusive annual membership offer and have the joining fee waived.