Companies that want happy employees must cultivate an environment where team members are given creative license, the freedom to innovate as well as permission to be themselves.
For many job seekers and employees, workplace culture is a leading concern. Following are seven ideas for changing company culture to attract — and retain — top-notch creative talent.
1. Allow the freedom to explore
Creative professionals draw inspiration from the world around them. Give them opportunities to break free from the office at times to visit an art museum, sketch in a coffee shop, take a hike, snap photos in nature or urban environments, or browse a bookstore. Exploration is part of the creative process, helping to keep ideas fresh and flowing. And what might seem like a frivolous activity to some could ignite the creative spark necessary for a key project. Does it really matter how the work gets done if it's accomplished on time and is of high quality? (Hint: It should not.)
2. Offer some creative perks
The best creative agencies and in-house departments are known for not only amazing work but also awesome perks and benefits. If you have the budget and flexibility, offer perks such as free food or workplace wellness programs. Even allowing dogs in the office can enhance employee recruitment and retention. Keep in mind, though, that even the charms of on-site happy hours, foosball tables and unlimited snacks are powerless against a creatively stifling environment or micromanagement.
3. Let employees get personal
The work environment matters. Creatives are highly visual people who like to surround themselves with inspiring ephemera. Rigid workspace appearance standards can dampen creativity and lower morale. While employees should be expected to maintain a clean and tidy work area, your company culture should encourage creatives to construct a personal environment that motivates them.
4. Consider flextime
Some people do their most creative thinking at the crack of dawn, while others hit their stride as the sun is setting. Consider changing company culture to accommodate flextime, allowing your early birds to arrive by 7:00 a.m. and leave at 4:00 p.m., while your night owls roll in at 10:30 a.m. and stay through dinner time. Create core hours (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for example) that everyone must adhere to. Offering telecommuting is another option that many employees love.
5. Crank up the tunes
For many professionals, listening to music goes hand in hand with creativity. If your office is small and your entire team is open to it, consider playing music throughout the office. At some firms, employees take turns choosing playlists each day. If playing music out loud isn't feasible (or differing musical tastes make reaching a consensus impossible), allow employees to listen to tunes with headphones. No, you don’t want people to have their earbuds in all day, but a ban on music can be a nail in the coffin of creativity for a designer or copywriter.
6. Establish a relaxed dress code
Many people express their individuality through their appearance. And a more casual dress code can help them feel more relaxed and comfortable. Allowing casual dress within your office or department doesn't mean abandoning a dress code altogether. You can still maintain appearance standards and establish separate expectations for client interactions while leaving room for personal expression.
7. Communicate your commitment to a creative culture
Don't feel like you need to implement these ideas all at once. Try a couple or adapt them in a way that feels true to your organization. Better yet, ask your creative team members what's most important to them. They likely have some of their own easily implementable ideas for boosting morale or increasing workplace happiness. Incorporate their concerns and then roll out new standards incrementally. (You might start by offering the ability to telecommute on Fridays as a trial, for example.)
The key is to keep an emphasis on creativity and innovation, the lifeblood of your business. Regularly promoting your commitment to a creative culture to both job candidates and existing employees will do wonders for your recruitment and retention efforts.