What is Creative Company Culture?
If your company’s growth depends on new ideas, nothing will help you more than making a culture that is flexible and Creative Company Culture on purpose.
No matter how big or small your company is, what industry it’s in, or how much money you have, making some changes to the environment and the way people act will almost certainly make your team more creative, attract the right people, and help your company grow in ways you can’t even imagine right now.
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What is a creative culture?
People often think a company’s culture is about its physical space and perks like free lunches, nap pods, and fancy holiday parties. People also think that the creative culture is all about working hard. You might think of shows like Mad Men, where people work late into the night to perfect designs and copy for client presentations.
The truth is that your people are what make your culture creative. Your company culture is made up of things like your values, how your employees interact with each other and work together, and how you treat your employees, partners, and clients. And while all businesses should care about creativity, if you’re in a creative industry, it’s also important to make sure your employees have everything they need to be their most creative and innovative selves.
Why is company culture important?
Would you rather work for a company that cares about its workers and invests in their success and well-being or one that treats its workers like crap? So simple, right? This is why company culture is so important. When employees trust their bosses, take pride in what they do, and get along with their coworkers, they’re happier, more productive, and more likely to stick around for the long haul.
The bottom line of a company can also be helped by a healthy culture of creativity. An independent study of the 100 Best Companies found that the workplaces with the best company culture had a higher operating income per employee, operating margin, growth rate, and return on assets.
Here are 19ingredients to change your company culture that I’ve learned from working with creative businesses:
1. Define a core value.
Holger Hansen, who is the Managing Director of Jung von Matt/SPORTS, uses the company’s core value, which is “creative excellence,” to decide who to hire, how to reward the team, and how to run the business. “When it comes to the people who work for us, we don’t just want people who can sell regular ads. “We’re looking for people who sell good ideas and useful solutions,” says Holger.
2. Build an inspired workspace.
It all starts with the place where you work. Remember how there were cubicle farms in the 1990s? We hope not. There is a reason why these are going out of style so quickly. In today’s world, which is focused on design and the user, companies have to move quickly and come up with new ideas all the time. This won’t happen behind a taupe cubicle wall and dull office light.
What’s in are places with lots of open space, cozy living rooms, big windows, inviting kitchens, and useful features like showers and bike parking. But even if you aren’t building a new office from scratch, adding a lot of whiteboards and markers and giving your team nice computers and other tech products will help give their creative juices a place to flow.
3. Work regular hours.
Your team will burn out quickly if they work too much. So, Paul suggests that agencies stop letting people work on weekends and overtime and instead try a program called “Summer Fridays,” in which workers can leave early or take the day off at the end of the week. His company also gives him at least 20 days off every year.
4. Grant flexible work hours.
Stable work hours help keep things in order, but you can’t just force your creative muse to show up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Different people have different schedules that make them more or less productive at different times.
Some people get their best ideas in the middle of the night or during a long lunch when their minds are at ease. In the tech world, for example, it’s common for developers to get more done “after hours,” when there are fewer people around. So, they might decide to stay up later and work until very late at night.
5. Build a diverse team.
Oz Alon, CEO and Co-founder of HoneyBook, writes in Entrepreneur, “Unless you’re trying to re-create a Ford factory model, making more carbon copies isn’t the key to making an innovative company.” Instead, he suggests that creative leaders aim for diversity and inclusion by bringing in team members with a wide range of work experience, education, and cultural backgrounds.
6. Grant unlimited vacation days.
Taking a break from work is one of the best ways to get new ideas. People are more likely to be inspired when they break out of their daily routines and are motivated by new things. Think about how many times you’ve had great ideas while flying or riding the train.
Taking a day or two off to relax at home, wander aimlessly through a new part of your city, or take the kids on a day trip is very valuable. If you give your team unlimited vacation days and use them yourself, it encourages not only staycations or lazy beach breaks but also more adventurous travel to faraway places that can help people think in new ways.
7. Stop micromanaging.
Paul says that if you need to micromanage your employees, it’s a sign that you’re not a good leader or that your team isn’t very good at what they do. No matter what, something is wrong. “The idea is to hire great people and help them do their jobs,” he says. One of the best ways to do this is to start every new project with a creative brief.
This brief should include:
- Background: What the assignment is about
- Assignment: Describe the project in one sentence.
- What are the business goals that it needs to meet?
- Deliverables: A list of the things that need to be done.
- Dates to meet: both internal and external dates to meet
- Resources: Links to files, documents, etc.
8. Give credit where credit is due.
We’ve all heard about creative bosses who take credit for the work of their junior designers. Don’t be like that person. Instead, always give credit where credit is due and, if possible, include your client in the creative process. Don’t wait until the end of the job to show them what you’ve done.
9. Put the team first.
If you want a truly creative company culture, you should put your staff first. You might think that customers should always come first, but powerful CEOs like Richard Branson of Virgin Group and Tony Hsieh of Zappos have shown that putting the team first makes customers and even shareholders happy.
10. Don’t work with assholes.
There will always be times when your team might have to work a little harder to finish a project. But if you have a client who always goes beyond your limits, you need to let them go or it could hurt the culture of your company. Paul doesn’t want to work with clients who don’t treat his team with respect, give them impossible deadlines or scopes, or expect them to work on the weekends.
11. Reward risk-taking.
Now that you’ve given people time and space to be creative, reward them for taking risks. Think about the companies that you admire: How many of them were successful because they stuck to tradition and the rules?
It was a big risk to start your own business. So why not hang out with people who are willing to take risks to help you reach your goals? Companies like Google, which famously made its employees spend a certain amount of their work time on their own side projects, want to encourage people to take risks in a safe setting. Ideas that really change things don’t come from stability.
12. Celebrate success.
Holger thinks that celebrating successes is a way to show respect for his employees and is an important part of the creative culture of his agency. So, his team always tries to celebrate wins, no matter how big or small, whether it’s a new client or a successful ad campaign.
13. Encourage disagreement.
Disagreement is the best way to fight against being too comfortable. You don’t have to start a war in the office or make people feel bad about themselves. No, disagreement between professionals is what makes debate possible, and you need a debate to make sure that your business is always putting its best foot forward.
14. Pay your people well.
Money isn’t everything, but it can make a difference in how happy you are with your job. A recent survey found that 68% of people making more than $150,000 per year said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, but only 40% of people making less than $50,000 per year said the same. Now, don’t worry if you can’t pay your whole team a six-figure salary. The important thing is to make sure that your employees’ paychecks show how much you value them. And you must, must, must pay your interns. “They aren’t there to make coffee for you. Paul says, “They’re there to learn.”
15. Try group problem-solving.
People at a small company often need to work together to finish big projects. A member of the design team might end up working with a member of the tech support team.
Making people work together who have very different skills and points of view can bring out the best kind of creativity and lead to unexpected breakthroughs in thinking.
16. Help find the sweet spot.
Holger says that the sweet spot is where his employees’ interests and skills meet the needs of their agency. He helps his workers find this sweet spot by giving them the freedom to create their own ideal creative work environment. “When our people are doing their best work, we can feel and see how excited they are about it,” he says.
17. Be direct.
Make it less important to be diplomatic. Let everyone say what they think. Encourage your team members to speak their minds without worrying about being “nice” or hurting anyone’s feelings. Make it so that employees can ask each other tough questions without getting defensive. This keeps people from getting too comfortable and makes sure they always think about and talk about the most important issues and ask the best questions.
18. Make work fun.
“Work hard and play hard” is a common saying, but it’s essential for building a great creative culture. Oz says, “A playful work environment builds trust, which makes it easier for creativity to flow.” How fun is added to a company’s culture can look different from one to the next. Holger’s agency, for example, plays in a soccer league for advertising agencies just for fun. If everyone on your team likes the same sports team, video games, or TV show, this could be a good place to start if you want to make your workplace a little more fun.
19. Grant autonomy and inspire responsibility.
Even the newest employees have a lot of responsibility at a small company with a big goal. Hold people to high standards and give them the freedom to make their own choices (with minimal guidance). This makes people more resourceful and determined, which is a great thing for creativity.
Creativity isn’t just a skill for artists; it’s about using your mind to come up with new ideas and concepts that challenge the way things are now. Every industry needs creative thinking to be better, which is why it’s so important to make sure your company has a creative culture.
By hiring people from different backgrounds, picking leaders who put employee happiness first, promoting career growth, encouraging flexibility in the creative process, letting employees fail without fear of being punished, and giving them education and training to help feed their creative minds.
The employees will feel free to be creative and think critically. A creative culture will help you find and keep smart, creative people.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about What is Creative Company Culture?
What does a creative business culture mean?
The truth is that your people are what make your culture creative. Your company culture is made up of things like your values, how your employees interact with each other and work together, and how you treat your employees, partners, and clients.
What is a creative culture?
What is a culture of creativity? It’s the place where the team feels most motivated based on what they think and how they act. Creative culture is a strong force that has a huge effect on how teams work together and how they get things done.
How do you create a creative culture?
Recognize and accept mistakes and failures as opportunities, not punishments. This will help you learn more and create a culture that encourages creativity and taking risks. Give your employees feedback that is helpful and on time, and give them what they need to do well. Treat your employees fairly and as unique people, and keep in mind that fairness is not the same as equality.
What are the 3 elements of organizational culture?
Schein divided an organization’s culture into three levels: artifacts, values, and assumptions.
How does culture influence creativity?
Creativity is, in a way, a part of every culture. If culture is the “background,” then creativity is the “object” that is likely to become the new “background” for new and future “objects” of creativity. No one can live well and come up with new ideas without culture.
What are the 5 major functions of culture in an organization?
Companies need to build and keep up great organizational cultures if they want to keep and attract top talent. To do this, organizations need to focus on five important things: their purpose, their ownership, their community, their ability to communicate, and their ability to lead.
What is workplace creativity?
Creativity at work is the process of making new, original ideas come to life. Employees and managers who are creative ask questions and look for new ways to do things. They are more likely to try out new ideas at work, which can lead to better ways of doing things for everyone.
How do you describe your company culture?
Every employee feels accepted, valued, and as if they belong in connected company culture. When a company is connected, employees can quickly share ideas and work well together. Companies with a related culture have employees who are involved and work toward the same goals.
What is positive work culture?
Simply put, a positive work culture puts the well-being of employees first, offers support at all levels of the organization, and has policies in place that encourage respect, trust, empathy, and support.