Want To Hire And Keep The Best People? Creativity Is The Key.
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Want To Hire And Keep The Best People? Creativity Is The Key.

There is an interesting, and growing, body of research which supports new ways of looking at recruitment. Generation X and Generation Y will select their place of employment according to how a given company ranks in terms of its social values, and whether or not the potential employer is interested in providing people with real opportunities for personal development and meaningful work. Suddenly, dance, music, visual arts and writing have taken on a meaning deeper than “merely” artistic expression. They must be part of an HR Director’s bag of tools.

Towards the end of 2016, the software maker Adobe carried out a broad survey of over 5000 adults of various ages in the US, UK, France, Japan and Germany, to measure the sentiment people had towards broadly understood creativity, especially in relation to broadly understood success. The survey, titled State of Create 2016 and released under the headline “Creativity Pays” found that investing in creativity bears measurable benefits. 

Let’s take a closer look since the survey addressed the young, and the not so young, coming from many professions, not just the creatives. 

In the US, 85% of all respondents reported that creativity was a substantial factor in attaining whatever they termed as success, both in the work sense and in personal life. Mala Sharma, Adobe’s VP of Creative Cloud (their cloud software division, which ran the survey) was quoted in Inc. Magazine as saying “This survey provides a big wake-up call to business that they need to think differently and give employees the tools and freedom to be creative. […] An investment in creativity and design is simply good business.” Of course she would say that, I hear you say. Yes, Adobe are the makers of PhotoShop and much other software used by the creative industries so of course they will push creativity as a strategic value. But while we might say that such a result would not constitute a particularly stunning discovery for people working in the creative industries, there is a lot more to this unequivocal statement. 

Creativity is no longer considered “something they do in the art department.” It has been a growing part of the larger vocabulary, and toolkit, of business in general. The Adobe survey listed a number of tangible benefits to be derived from investing in creativity, including higher individual incomes, greater national competitiveness and increased productivity.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it found that younger generations value creativity more highly, with a half or more of Gen Z and Millennials describing themselves as “creative,” and two thirds of both groups wanting others to see them as creative. Even allowing for very individual definitions of creativity, these are clear lessons for employers there, and we will be revising them in the Employer Branding section.

New ideas need to be captured and pinned up for examination and discussion, or else they flame out and disappear as soon as they are formed. New ideas are fragile, delicate beings. Barely hatched ideas need help and encouragement, no matter how strange and incongruous they may seem. They may grow into larger versions of themselves, get combined with other ideas to form something entirely new, or contribute to existing ideas to improve them. They may be discarded, in time, but the initial response to a new idea needs to be one of open-minded curiosity. Managers, at any level, whose automatic response to new ideas is scepticism, make it impossible to explore the potential reach and usefulness of those ideas. They need training to get out of that habit, as toxic scepticism in reply to budding creative effort is an effective way to ensure that person never does it again.