“Companies are running 21st-century businesses with 20th-century workplace practices and programs,” posit the authors of a Towers Watson study. “And the cracks in the foundation are starting to show in both small and large ways.”
The study reveals that an innovative work experience and environment drives productivity. As many as half of all U.S. employees, however, admit to feeling overloaded at work.
When looking to boost productivity, embrace creative solutions to employee engagement. Why? Innovation spurs problem solving that can ultimately increase productivity.
Here are a few surprising ways you can build an innovative team that scores big.
1. Play video games
A study by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco found that playing video games helped elderly people increase their capacity for multitasking. The study confirms what neuroscientists had long suspected: Gaming can strengthen cognitive skills.
Place a Wii or Xbox in the breakroom to help overloaded employees blow off some steam with a few Mario Cart races. It will simultaneously reduce stress and improve task switching functions in the brain.
2. Exercise together
Exercise stimulates the brain chemical BDNF, which plays a role in brain cell growth and helps regulate your mood, according to Dr. John J. Ratey at Harvard Medical School. In fact, researchers found that people who exercised one hour a day, three times a week for six months had a larger hippocampus — a part of the brain that controls memory and learning.
Start an office exercise program the entire team can participate in. It could be as simple as a morning walk outside or as intense as a fitness video a few times a week. For a great mid-day break, try a hosting a lunch hour yoga group.
3. Use mobile to communicate
Considering that 44 percent of people sleep next to their phones in fear of missing a call or update, mobile is a great tool to help improve communication while at work. However, instead of texting and calling everyone, use an app specifically designed for project management. Your employees will have a designated place to update tasks, share ideas and support each other.
4. Develop a goals system
A study reveals our brains produce more dopamine as we become closer to reaching our goals. This motivates us and increases potential for creative thought. Thus, setting goals can help increase innovative thinking among your team.
In order for your goals to be most effective, you need to write them down and share them with the whole team. Use a digital cascading goals system in which you can weigh goals based on priority, set deadlines and track your team’s progress for maximum efficiency.
5. Eat bilberries
When you’re down to the wire on a deadline, you might be tempted to skip meals or worse, pull out the chocolate bar you have stashed in your desk. However, the energy boost you’ll get will only last temporarily, resulting in a sugar crash later.
Encourage healthy eating habits among your team by keeping healthy snacks in the breakroom like pumpkin seeds, broccoli, whole grain cereals, and, yes, bilberries. A study by Tuft University found that bilberriesreduce memory loss and improve coordination.
6. Create a community room
A great way to inspire creative thought is to set up a community room in the workplace where team members can gather and share ideas. Environment plays a big role in inspiring creative thought.
Also, providing a space for employees to wander around away from their desks will keep performance at an optimal level. A Cornell study found performance decreases when employees perceptively have no control over their work environment.
Innovation in the workplace is the key to a happier, more productive team. Though methods for increasing innovation don’t always directly involve working at work, they do inspire creative brain power to get things done, and get them done well.