Companies, especially smaller ones, often depend on big ideas and a creative team of employees to develop innovative products and services. But a new survey shows that many U.S. workers suffer from a lack of creative stimulation at their jobs.
In a study of 674 full- and part-time workers, 88 percent said they consider themselves creative, but only 63 percent said they are putting their creative abilities to use on the job, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs survey commissioned by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
When asked about their company's creative potential, 39 percent of respondents said they do not think of their company as a creative entity. Nevertheless, the survey found that 75 percent of workers believe their employers value their creativity. Economic experts have termed this phenomenon the "creativity gap," or the disconnect between the creative resources available and those being employed.
"The U.S. economy has always been fueled by new ideas and innovation, and this survey underscores the value that American workers put on creativity at work," Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement. "In many ways, the results of this research are a wakeup call to U.S. companies."
In fact, the survey illuminates just how eager some employees are to work for a company that they view as creative. One in five respondents said they would leave their job for a workplace where they could be more creative, even if it meant earning less money. Another 29 percent of respondents said they would move their place of residence to be part of a more creative community. That number was higher -- at 37 percent -- for younger workers, ages 18-34.
"As the workforce gets younger, they are really interested in taking on projects that tap into the idea of entrepreneurism," said Steven Pedigo, a researcher for the Creative Class Group, a global think tank that advises companies on how to attract talent from the creative class. "The employers that have been really successful in fostering creativity are those that have created an environment that is entrepreneurial. They are really team driven and not a top down, but almost flat, infrastructure," Pedigo added.
One way that employers can open their company up to more creativity, according to Pedigo, is by providing a work environment that is flexible and caters to the needs of employees. One example is being amenable to employees who want to work untraditional hours, or in a setting outside the office.
"The number one commodity for a business is human capital," Pedigo said. "You want to foster your talent base as much as possible because at the end of the day that's what's going to help the bottom line."