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Companies Can Benefit From Having Employees With Creative Hobbies

By Sep Barkhodaee, April 18, 2014
Employee creativity

Each and every staff member in an organization has many dimensions to their personality, and it’s impossible for them to bring all of their unique skills and interests into the workplace. That’s why most have hobbies or other endeavors outside of work. While employers may not realize it, what staff members engage in outside the office can significantly impact their performance in the workplace. The hidden passions and talents that workers have may actually reveal skills that are highly valuable in the workplace – but first, employers must be able to tap into those talents.

Encouraging staff members to have creative outlets can bring a number of benefits to both parties, enhancing employees’ overall fulfillment on the job and potentially making them more well-rounded workers as well.

 

Why leisure activities are important
According to the Pacific Standard, a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology revealed that employees with creative hobbies and outside interests are not only more innovative at work, but also better team players. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of “rarely” to “very often” how frequently they engaged in creative tasks or used free time to explore that side of themselves over the past 30 days. Then, they were asked to rate on a similar scale how often they “come up with creative solutions to job problems,” “go out of the way to make others at work feel welcome,” and “defend the organization when others criticize it.” Staff members who said they had greater levels of creative activity were also rated – both by themselves and others – to have higher creativity on the job.

“Employees who reported greater levels of creative activity were also rated (by themselves and others) as higher in job creativity,” the team wrote, as quoted by Pacific Standard. “They also performed above average on two measures of ‘organizational citizenship behaviors’ – willingness to assist their colleagues, and loyalty to the organization.”

San Francisco State University psychologist Kevin Eschleman, who led the research, explained that one reason for this might be that artistic endeavors offer “valuable experiences of mastery and control,” as well as a “experiences of discovery” that can influence their performance on the job. Also, the team pointed out that art mastery can offer a cathartic release of negative feelings that may get in the way of an individual’s performance, while also helping them to cope with work-related stress.

 

How employers can encourage them
Now that the advantages to supporting outside interests and hobbies are clear, it’s time to consider what strategies can be effective for doing so.

Under 30 CEO explained that one way to achieve a supportive structure is to bring in experts that can enlighten staff members in new subjects. For example, the source noted that a firm might bring in a theatrical coach for an improvisation session or even engage employees in a group cooking lesson. Not only will these initiatives force employees to think in a different way and activate their creative sides, but they can also support team trust and collaboration.

Alternatively, businesses can create online courses in areas such as music or photography to help fulfill their employees’ interests. If a firm is lacking in monetary resources for these programs, employers might allow team members a bit of schedule flexibility to pursue their passions.

Another tactic suggested by Under 30 CEO is planning regular outings for the entire company, such as a concert or even a sporting event. This can be a great bonding activity, but also shed light on interests that employers may not have known their staff members have.


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