Small and midsize business owners who are intent on generating creativity in the workplace are always looking for ways to motivate employees to do the same. After all, the team that works on the company's front line is likely in the best position to devise new ways of increasing sales and satisfying customers. As such, it's important to encourage these workers to be imaginative and share their fresh thinking with others.

Here are five ideas to motivate employees to think outside of the box:

1. Support Creative Thinking

It's important for your employees to understand that innovation is one of your top priorities. Be sure to explain how their creative input can help spur changes in the business and that all ideas, however outlandish, are welcome. At the same time, it's always smart to make it possible for your team to submit ideas anonymously, perhaps through a suggestion box or a page on your company's website or intranet. Maintaining anonymity and confidentiality can often be the best way to prompt employee feedback.

2. Embrace Brainstorming Sessions

Another effective technique for generating ideas is to provide time and space for employees to gather and brainstorm. By facilitating these types of meetings, you will help encourage your team to pose suggestions, building on what they've heard and taking the discussion in unexpected directions.

3. Acknowledge That Mistakes Are Acceptable

Every small and midsized business carries a certain degree of risk, though some companies are more receptive to taking these chances than others. As a way to encourage fresh thinking, you can acknowledge the fact that making mistakes comes with the territory of running a business.

4. Foster a Creative Environment

What's the general mood in your workplace? Are people engaged and interacting in a healthy manner? If not, you should consider making changes both to your culture and the work environment. Look for ways to encourage fun, such as ping pong tables, video games and big whiteboards on which employees can jot down their ideas as they occur. Team-building activities and an occasional company retreat can inspire great ideas, as well.

You should also ask yourself whether there are ways to reconfigure your workplace to prompt more creativity. Private workstations tend to keep people isolated, so consider offering more informal meeting locations where employees can gather freely and exchange ideas.

5. Reward Employee Creativity

Another effective way to motivate creativity is to offer some type of reward. Tangible rewards, such as paid time off, as well as intangible rewards, like singling out an especially creative employee, can be powerful incentives.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all ideas to motivate employees, you must be sure to take action on the best ideas. Nothing will demonstrate to employees how much you value their input more than turning a great idea into reality.

Tags: employee management Business Strategy Employee Engagement