An introduction to Creativity

Using our intelligence and skills to solve problems, or create new ways of doing things, is deeply satisfying. At work, we can engage in the creative process with others, which supports happiness, retention and innovation.

10 Creativity

Why it’s important

Creativity is both coming up with useful ideas or solutions to problems, and putting them in to action. From our research with over 20,000 workers, Creativity is the lowest scoring of the drivers of happiness at work. Women in particular report lower chances to be creative in their jobs, and opportunities to be creative are low in certain sectors including, Administration, Finance, Legal, and Insurance.

It's been found that being part of an organization which encourages creativity leads to happier, more committed employees, improving retention rates, and creates a more innovative, productive workplace. So, creativity is not just the activity of creative industries. It’s an activity of happy workers, regardless of the role or industry they work in.

Experts believe there are three components of creativity: • Expertise – relevant or useful knowledge for the issue requiring a solution • Creative-thinking – the skills, flexibility, and imagination needed for ideas • Motivation – curiosity and interest are more effective drivers of problem solving than extrinsic factors like pay and bonuses

Together, these factors work to increase our capacity at work to put existing ideas together in new combinations.

It’s also the case that happiness influences creativity. Happier people think more flexibly – one study found happier people to be 30% more creative when faced with a lateral thinking problem. Creativity often occurs when we’re working in a group, particularly mutually supportive diverse groups. The diversity of the group is increasingly considered to be important for cultivating creativity, with studies showing those immersed in other cultures become more creative. As Ken Robinson, an expert on creativity, puts it, “most original thinking comes through collaboration and through the stimulation of other people's ideas. Nobody lives in a vacuum...In practical terms, most creative processes benefit enormously from collaboration.”

What one of our experts says

“There is a myth that surrounds creativity – that somehow only deeply unhappy people can be truly creative. Whilst it’s undoubtedly true that some great art has been created by people with depression like Van Gough, it’s also true that they weren’t painting when they were really down, drunk or suicidal. For most of us, creativity is about coming up with new ideas or novel ways of doing things. These sparks of imagination are much more likely to ignite when we’re not distracted by frustrations or unhappiness.” Nic Marks, Friday

How we measure it

To measure creativity, we ask:

How often do you get the chance to be creative in your job?

We ask ‘how often’ because we’re guiding people to reflect on the proportion of time spent at work in some kind of creative process. We use “creative in your job” so people reflect on creativity within their specific role and responsibilities.

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