Photograph by Getty Images
By Karen Hsu
April 29, 2016

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization? is written by Karen Hsu, VP of marketing at Badgeville.

At Badgeville, we’re in the business of helping brands motivate their workforces with innovative gamification solutions. We help clients build highly engaged workforces that give their companies a competitive edge. But our unique approach to gamification isn’t just reserved for our clients — we walk the walk too, using the principles of gamification to spark creativity within Badgeville. So how do we do it? First, we constantly work toward developing a culture of sharing and collaboration. The best ideas often come from discussion, and fruitful dialogs can happen with your immediate colleagues or employees you don’t typically encounter, like those from other departments or teams.

However, creating a collaborative culture doesn’t come naturally for many organizations, but any company can achieve it if they take deliberate action. The most important aspect is to find ways to motivate the behavior you want. One way to do this is by encouraging people to contribute and share in an online community. This approach has many advantages, including the fact that in an online community, an idea or question tends to reach a broad group of people, not just a single person.

See also: This Is What It Takes To Inspire Your Employees

The second step toward changing an organization’s culture is to acknowledge that it takes repetitive nudging and recognition of those who do share new ideas and promote creative thinking. People should be rewarded when they engage in the behavior you’re trying to encourage. Given that people in the modern workplace are increasingly immersed in digital environments — working on multiple applications and devices — you need to find a way to motivate employees on the platforms they use most.

Once you have created this space to share ideas, you need to keep the flow of ideas coming. The most effective way to do this is to tap into intrinsic motivators like reputation. People like to be recognized as experts in their field, and a gamification strategy that lets them earn recognition for their expertise — such as badges, certificates, etc. — will help maintain their interest and enthusiasm.

When employees see that management is recognizing those who develop creative approaches and solutions, they are inspired to ensure that their own reputation rises within the organization. New ideas and innovation are the lifeblood of business. Finding a way to motivate employees to share, collaborate and innovate is a serious endeavor. But it can also be fun, if you make it a process that employees want to do — make a game of it.

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