HOW MAKING TIME FOR CREATIVITY AIDS WELLBEING

And you don’t have to pick up a single paint brush.

What is being creative? Is it having a penchant for the theatre or having an easel in the conservatory? Is it learning the ukulele during lockdown? Well, just like ‘wellbeing’, the definition of ‘creativity’ is pretty broad.

According to a ground-breaking paper in 1953, Creativity and Culture, psychologist and creativity expert Dr Morris Stein said creative work is ‘novel’, ‘accepted as useful’ and ‘did not exist previously in precisely the same form’. This means it could be anything: reading a new book, creating a campaign, visiting a new place, writing in a journal or speaking to someone new.

The pandemic changed how we interact with people, how and where we work. The future of work is not short on opinions and predictions but one thing has remained the same; the paramount importance of employee wellbeing.

hasta takes wellbeing very seriously and we’ve talked about it extensively in a number of different articles. Today, it’s all about getting creative and inspiring others to do the same. Regardless if you are still remote, hybrid or office working, sparks of creativity can fly in person and on video, you just need to try different activities and create an environment that cultivates free thinking and trust.

Being a creative workplace is no longer ‘an added bonus’, it is now essential if you want to attract and retain the best talent. We know that people employees who feel valued at work are more productive, more confident and more passionate about their job, (all essential to wellbeing), but how does creativity fit in?

Creative thinking and activities allow employees to collaborate and think above and beyond their defined roles. Thinking about something other than your own work and feeling part of the solution to a wider company problem, makes employees feel that they can have a strong business impact. In addition, staff feel that since they helped solve a problem or had an idea that inspired others, their work, and in turn productivity, is more meaningful to the business, thus increasing a person’s sense of value.

Whether you are pro remote or a staunch office returner, Covid has impacted creativity. Despite team collaboration being successful over video and being able to share ideas on a global scale, many surveys highlight that the lack of physical interaction has taken away organic moments of creative problem solving and informal networking opportunities that happen at lunch, by the kettle or during impromptu after-work drinks.

The call for a more creative workforce has never been stronger. In this new business landscape of increasing challenges faced by organisations, including the mental wellbeing of staff, a creative culture not only sets you apart and makes you an agile competitor, you’ll also be more innovative and productive as your employees, at all levels, will feel empowered and engaged, dramatically increasing diversity and wellbeing.

Why is creativity essential to wellbeing?

Here’s the science. The links between creativity and increased feelings of wellness are undeniable. Countless studies note when undertaking a creative task you usually get into the ‘flow’ – which is actually a scientific thing. Becoming absorbed in a task impacts all facets of performance due to a change in brain function. The brain releases endorphins, serotine and dopamine (the pleasure and satisfaction chemicals) that have a direct impact on mood and the ability to unlock creative thoughts. As our brain waves slow down, we become less critical and more encouraging and bold with our creativity.

How can you do this at work?

As mentioned, creativity is broad. There are opportunities to be creative all around the office or online. Companywide brainstorms are a great tool to unlock hidden talent and allow ideas to emerge from different departments. Showcasing and building upon the diverse way your employees approach tasks gives people the confidence to have their voice heard as well utilise potentially dormant skills.

Team building exercises and events are a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on creativity, as working towards a common goal to solve or win something in a new environment breeds ingenuity and innovative thinking. Working as a collective positively affects a workforces’ comradery, which is then translated into a work environment. Giving staff the autonomy to organise social events also provides control and free rein in terms of creativity.

Open workplace culture is essential for creativity and this starts with optimism. The mood of your workforce directly impacts collective creative thinking as, unsurprisingly, an undervalued and disengaged team will not yield the same results as a team that is proud of their place of work. Focusing on creating a sense of belonging goes a long way for creativity.

Creative culture doesn’t always have to be about a client or work-related problem, it could be about the workplace. With ‘a code red threat to humanity’ no longer on the horizon, but here, we all need to ensure sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do. Asking staff about greener solutions is a great way to get cross-departmental creativity flowing. Engaging employees in global problems on a micro level encourages a sense of purpose and the feeling of being able to enact change. Finding common passions are essential when it comes to creating a sense of belonging and value. Whether it is something trivial like a popular lunch or a serious issue like climate change, common goals make people thrive.

Empowering your workforce is as vital as nurturing an environment for success. We know to celebrate success but we also should celebrate failures. If something does not work, the journey should still receive recognition and plaudits. In doing this, employees are more likely to be motivated to participate again as the fear of failure has dissipated. Turning failures into a valuable learning opportunity is valuable as being able to spot mistakes is a creative skill.

The business landscape may be changing, yet the fundamental needs of your most important stakeholder remain largely the same; their wellbeing is crucial. Creativity and wellness exist symbiotically, the former being an essential ingredient for the latter. So stop typing that email and speak to someone from a different department, call a meeting and get creative.