It's essential to keep your employees involved in the creative process. Here are a few ways to do it.
- Engage employees from all departments in brainstorming sessions. "This has not only been very successful in generating authentic campaigns, but also energizes the staff," says Brook Jay, 38, co-founder of All Terrain Integrated Marketing, a Chicago integrated marketing agency with projected year-end sales of $6.5 million.
- Encourage and enable employees to pursue outside interests. Edmund Scanlan, 32, founder of Total Attorneys, a managed services provider for small law firms, allows employees who are in bands to leave work early for gigs and even go on tour. The Chicago-based company was founded in 2002 and reached $25 million in sales last year.
- Create an inspiring work space. EVB LLC's headquarters in San Francisco features an indoor park, basketball court and pool table. Such an environment "gives [employees] an outlet to refresh their minds," says Daniel Stein, 41, founder of the digital marketing firm with annual sales in the eight figures.
- Fund extracurricular projects or classes. Door Number 3's art director took a comedy improv class, compliments of the Austin, Texas-based company. "It gave him confidence," says MP Mueller, 49, founder of the boutique branding agency, which brought in $8 million in sales in 2008. "Confidence is important when your job is to create things."
- Lower cubicle walls. It may sound simple, but this has fostered everything from employees brainstorming together to helping each other out on sales calls, says Clate Mask, 36, president and CEO of Infusionsoft, a software company in the Phoenix area with 2008 sales of about $13 million.