Barriers To Creativity In The Workplace

Patricea Pop

8 minutes read

In a world full of challenges and ambiguity, creativity becomes essential. Even if the modern office has evolved over the past few years, there is still insufficient space for creative thinking and inspiration. Still, too many promising ideas are ignored, a lot of untapped potential is lost, and insufficient funds are allocated to creative projects. Moreover, we often have to face many doubts and the fear of experimentation that comes along with it. Finally, there are not enough incentives and rewards in place to stimulate creativity.

Apart from the roles that are designated as being creative, in reality, most people don’t even consider that they may bring their creative talents to work.

Until we don’t reframe creativity as a competency we need, we will continue to waste the potential that lies within each team member.

Barriers to creativity in organizations

Even though the word “innovation” is frequently used in organizations, most businesses stifle their employees’ creativity. Back-to-back meetings, excessive pressure on results, too much screen time, long to-do lists, and a lack of playtime are just a few examples of barriers to creativity in the workplace.

In addition, organizational crises, workplace instability, and a lack of leadership support make it difficult to be inventive. It shouldn’t be surprising then that many employees give up on being able to appreciate the creative component of their work.

Creativity is an organizational as well as an individual affair

Although organizations have put up many barriers to creativity, each person is the owner of his or her creative potential and is responsible for using, sharing, and managing everything that comes with it.

Instead of putting ourselves in a box and developing tunnel vision about the type of employee we are, we could simply start experimenting with the idea of bringing all of our talents and potential to work.

Just because most of us haven’t used our creativity all that much in our careers doesn’t mean that we should keep it in the closet.

What else blocks our creativity in the workplace?

Feeling like we can’t rise to the expectations, fear of being judged, or simply the risk of embarrassing ourselves in front of our colleagues, are just a few ways in which we sabotage our talent at work.

The worry of having our ideas stolen by a manager or a coworker also feels like something we only see in the movies, but it actually occurs more frequently than we’d like to believe. This aspect has many shades to it and not being given credit for your ideas and the work you put into putting them into practice is one of them.

Rather than diminishing or putting our creativity on hold, we should instead stop waiting for the right occasion, inspiration, or approval from others. In the end, creativity is about taking risks. Obviously, this is much easier said than done, and having an environment that breathes creativity is extremely important.

Chasing perfection, comparing ourselves and our ideas, and having a low tolerance for mistakes are both organizational and individual traps that keep creativity away.

How to keep the creative channels open

First, being creative is a skill that can be developed and modeled.

Second, for those organizations ready to embrace the full creative potential of their employees in 2023, the first step is to understand and recognize the constraints that employees face. However, the work isn’t finished here.

In fact, it’s crucial that leaders maintain an open mind around this topic. This implies not judging others, embracing the creative style of each team member, and creating an atmosphere of psychological safety. Employees who incorporate creative ideas into their projects and work assignments should be then encouraged and rewarded.

Since creativity is about transformation, it has the potential to shift daily routines and dull days into exciting ones. The good part of having more creativity on the job is that people get emotionally involved and they put more passion into a task that can make a tangible difference.

Creativity can be difficult to define and, like any other concept, the most important aspect is to live and express it in our daily lives, the best way we know how. Therefore, before leaving for work, we have the option of using more of our skills and abilities or sticking with our regular routine and becoming complacent.

Last but not least, we must first believe that we are creating as a person and as a company, and only then will ideas flow. Just remember that once we start, creativity spreads quickly.

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Written by Patricea Pop


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step and mine started a few summers ago when I wanted to do something for myself, so I enrolled in a coaching programme. This gave me the chance to look at myself from a different perspective: little did I know that it would take me to a different career path, that of being a coach.

After more than 12 years in the corporate world which taught me many lessons and several years of preparation for my new role, I now support people in business to improve their self leadership skills. I think leadership is an inside job and it is part soul searching, part strategy and part relationship skills.

I love writing about work and organizations because it is the place where we invest heavily our time and energy and we often end up feeling stressed, trapped and dissatisfied. My strength relies on my resilience, critical thinking and intuition and I believe it is an honour to accompany someone on their inner journey.

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