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How creative are your hobbies?

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How creative are your hobbies?

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Innovation and creativity have seldom been more sought after employee traits, with organizations attempting to get the very best out of the talent they have.  Indeed, innovation is one of the most common applications of social business.  There are various environmental factors that can go into supporting creative or innovative behaviours.  Alas, most of these environmental factors limit their scope to the workplace however, be they the kind of light/noise at work, or the way information flows through the organization.

New research suggests that we might also want to look at the kind of hobbies people do.  The study looked at whether employees partaking in creative extra-curricular activities had an impact upon their performance at work.  The hypothesis was that this kind of activity outside work might restore our energies, increase our sense of control, or challenge us to learn new skills that may transfer into our work.

When the study was complete however, it emerged that things went further than that.

“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 paper said.

The paper, which allowed participants to define creativity however they wished, painted a rich picture of how people typically spend their leisure time.  It also requested that participants rate how creative they had been in their work, and indeed how they had supported both their colleagues and the organization as a whole.

The paper reminded us that just how active we are in the leisure activities of employees can often be a very sensitive topic.  Encouragement therefore has to strike just the right tone in order to be effective.

“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,” it said, “because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity.”

Prompting could take the form therefore of inviting employees to bring some of their creative projects into work.  You might for instance invite employees to bring their art work into the office to adorn the walls, or have a baking contest.  You might also provide discounts at local art studios, in much the same way many organizations have arrangements with local gyms.

“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 paper concluded.

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