(by +Victorio Milian)
I've worked many jobs in my career. Some I've enjoyed, others I've hated. I'm fortunate at this stage of my life to be involved in a few professional ventures that I really enjoy.
Part of why I'm in a good place these days is that I've found a way to incorporate my creative talents into my work. For example, I've been writing for over five years for various blogs and other outlets. This has provided me with opportunities for my work to appear in magazines, to travel, as well as connect with other great professionals. My emerging interest in photography and graphic design is helping me with my clients and their respective needs. My hobbies and interests have a home in my places of work.
My creative activities also serve as a diary of sorts. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on my growth and development, both as a HR practitioner as well as a person.
I say all this because I recently read a NPR article entitled, 'Got A Hobby? Might Be A Smart Professional Move.' In it, the author, Maanvi Singh, discusses research which reveals that employees who have creative endeavors outside of work tend to perform better at work.
According to the researchers abstract:
We conducted two studies that examined the relationships between non-work creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related behaviours at work. Creative activity was positively associated with recovery experiences (i.e., mastery, control, and relaxation) and performance-related outcomes (i.e., job creativity and extra-role behaviours).
A word of caution--it was a study done on a small group of professionals. Also, more research needs to be done on the connection between a person's creative outlet and work performance. Therefore, I wouldn't point to it as definitive proof of a relationship.
For me, however, it does make sense. Particularly as a consultant, I'm more engaged with clients when I can bring my full array of talents to work, even if they're not needed or utilized. And I've learned plenty of things at work that I've applied at home. Also, having a creative outlet helps me to relieve stress and to regain balance.
How can employees figure out how to be more creative at work, so that they can be more satisfied? Here are a few suggestions:
- Look at yourself. Take stock of the things you like to do, particularly those activities that you may not be able to engage in during work hours. Perhaps you like art, or exercising. Whatever it is, take stock of those things.
- Look at your job. What type of organization do you work for? Specifically, what are the values and expectations within it? Understanding the type of environment you work within can help you identify whether or not there's an opportunity to explore incorporating creative activities at work. For example, I've worked in environments where my social media activities were encouraged. In others, it was a big no-no.
- Look at your supervisor. You will have no bigger advocate or obstacle than your immediate supervisor. And that goes for any organizational initiative you may want to implement or adjust.
Finding that professional/personal sweet spot is tough, whether you're a CEO or the janitor. When people are able to clearly articulate and exist within that sweet spot between the two, they (in my opinion) tend to do better at work.