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Boosting creative problem-solving in the workplace

Most employees will come up against challenges that require an element of creativity in finding a solution

At times these problems may be fairly straightforward, but at others they could be much more complex and crucial for the development and advancement of your business.

Many people will say that they are not creative but most have the capacity to access the right side of the brain more extensively than they currently do. Development of this part of the brain can be hugely beneficial in the workplace and can aide employees in thinking more creatively to come up with solutions.

Innovation and originality are often key values in many businesses' propositions, but in order to implement real innovation we need to learn to think outside the box and get creative with our thought processes.

We hear the term ‘thinking outside the box’ repeatedly but how do we get to the stage where thinking in this way becomes accessible? Our daily routines tend to be fairly repetitive, especially for office workers, which teaches our brains to expect the same activities every day, making it harder for us to come up with creative solutions.

We can develop creativity by taking ourselves out of our everyday environments and trying something new. Arts and music are often cited as massive influencers in this area, mindfulness and meditation as well.

Peter Hughes, a psychologist and mindfulness expert, has explored how our brains develop cognitive biases, which generally lie at the root of many of the difficulties we find at work. Learning to reverse these biases through mindful meditation and other cognitive exercises can make measurable differences in our decision-making processes and creative problem-solving skills.

Inspiration is also a key factor. In his article 'Why Inspiration Matters' for Psychology Today, Scott Barry Kaufman said: “Inspiration allows us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations and is a strong driver of the attainment of our goals, productivity, creativity, and wellbeing". But where can we find inspiration in the workplace? We often see others as the inspiration for big achievements – top CEOs and entrepreneurs, professional athletes, people who have overcome adversity. Many companies bring inspirational speakers to employee events, and it’s a trend that seems to be growing.

It's often said that being in a ‘creative’ space can boost creativity, and locations like museums and art galleries come top in that arena. Visual arts stimulate the right side of our brain and get us thinking on a different level. Without having to create anything ourselves, sometimes just looking at and analysing artwork can get the creative juices flowing.

Companies are putting more emphasis on fun and away days, and it’s clear to see why – a more effective and contented workforce, the development of new skills for their employees, and a chance to escape the routine and experience something new.

In order to change the way we think and solve problems we have to perform exercises and activities to change the shape of our brains, which according to psychologists is easily achievable with some simple practices. Businesses of all sizes can boost their creative problem-solving, and employees can benefit not only in their work lives but in their personal lives too.

Mel Hales is the director of Rush Talent Corporate