I suspect there are very few organisations that don’t strive to be more innovative in some way. Creativity is therefore one of the more desirable traits employers are looking for from their workers, and there have been numerous attempts by companies to create the kind of workplaces that encourage creativity. Whilst things like bean bags and fussball tables have been perhaps the most well known attempts, they also include the layout of offices, the colour of paint used, even the photos placed around the office. It’s all designed to encourage creativity.
Suffice to say, most of those things are focused purely on what happens whilst at work. A recent study highlights however the powerful impact the things we do in our spare time has on our creativity. It looked specifically at the hobbies we partake in, and whether engaging in particularly creative hobbies influenced how we performed at work. Does creative hobbies equal, for instance, creativity and innovation at work?
The impact of our hobbies
Their hypothesis was that our hobbies are hugely influential, in that they may recharge our batteries, provide us with new skills, even give us a greater sense of control over our lives. What the researchers weren’t expecting however was just how big an impact our hobbies have.
“It can be rare in research to find that what we do in our personal time is related to our behaviors in the workplace, and not just how we feel,” the researchers say.
Participants in the study were given free rein to define creativity in whatever way they wanted, and the range of leisure activities undertaken was indeed a rich one. Alongside describing their leisure activites, participants were asked to describe various traits of their work life. Were they creative for instance, or had they recently supported a colleague in some way?
The results revealed that creative hobbies had a big impact on work performance and indeed on employee engagement.
Promoting creative hobbies
One of the main hurdles for employers of course is how to promote creative hobbies amongst their employees. For some it can be a somewhat sensitive topic and not something they wish to divulge to their employers, therefore the researchers suggest that they should be encouraging in creative ways.
“One of the main concerns is that you don’t want to have someone feel like their organization is controlling them, especially when it comes to creative activities,” they say, “because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity.”
The paper suggests that employers would promote creative hobbies amongst employees by inviting them to bring their projects into the workplace. For instance, you could offer to hang employees art work on the walls of the office, or host a cooking competition for staff. You could promote creative activities by teaming up with local art studios to offer discounted membership as many organisations do with local gyms for instance.
“A lot of organizations carve time out where they talk about physical heath and exercise and eating habits, but they can also include in that a discussion of mental health and the importance of recovery and creative activity,” the researchers conclude.
How creative are your own hobbies? Does your employer promote creativity in your personal life?