Procurement · 10 October 2017

Majority of businesses stifle worker creativity and innovation

Government workplaces were found to stifle creative thinking the most
Government workplaces were found to stifle creative thinking the most

The majority of small businesses fail to support a culture of innovation, even though staff claim that workplaces would benefit from a dose of creativity and new thinking.

A new study from Rada in Business has found that 81 per cent of UK workplaces and office premises don’t create a culture that encourages fresh ideas, according to their employees, with most workers admitting they thought businesses suffered as a result.

In a survey of workers from over 1,000 UK firms, a quarter said that their workplace was desperately in need of new ideas and creativity to overcome problems, with a number of combined factors found to be halting the progress of new ideas.

Just over one in five employees (21 per cent) said that they thought nobody they worked with would want to listen to their ideas, whereas 18 per cent claimed that when they’d put new ideas forward in the past, their employer had rarely implemented them.

Some 16 per cent of workers surveyed said they thought that any new idea would be treated with suspicion and criticism in their workplace, whereas 15 per cent even said that their employer actively discouraged innovation.

Director of Rada in Business, Kevin Chapman, advised employers to be less critical when new ideas emerge, however outlandish they appear at first.

He said: “Adopting an attitude of enthusiastic curiosity towards every idea that you come up with defies your critical voice and may lead the way to new innovations.

“It’s concerning to see how many people feel that creativity and innovation aren’t encouraged in their role – especially when there are simple techniques available to help companies to support and tap into the power of imagination for solving problems, or developing new ways of working as a team.

Government workplaces, both at the national and local level, are those that stifle creativity the most, the study found, whereas in the IT and financial services sectors, 29 per cent and 26 per cent of staff respectively find it hardest to make themselves heard and offer new ideas.

UK workers who claim to be able to think most creatively in their role include teachers and tradesman, like plumbers and carpenters. These workers are four times less likely to struggle with innovation than those working in government.

Four tips to help inspire creativity in your office

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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