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INNOVATE

The Recession Begets Innovation

A recent survey says that as company budgets shrink, staff creativity flourishes.
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Businesses may be short on funds, but according to a recent survey, 40 percent of marketing and advertising executives polled say that innovation is on the rise at their companies.

"I think that when you ask people to do more with less, you force creativity upon them," says Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group, a staffing firm that developed the survey. She says that when workers have limited budgets, they are more likely to find innovative ways to stretch those dollars further. "Now we are asking people to be a bit more novel in terms of reaching a target audience," she says, "And they can't spend as wildly as they would have before."

The survey revealed that while mornings seem to be prime time for new ideas, deadlines are the biggest impediment to creative thinking. Also, when workers feel overburdened (a common sentiment in the aftermath of layoffs), they often will feel less compelled or able to innovate.

Some workers may not exercise their creativity because there's always a risk in experimentation, according to creativity consultant Juanita Weaver. "You have to create a safe place," she says, "and you can't punish noble failures."

Employers can foster creativity in their workplace by eliminating office distractions and limiting unessential work assignments, advises Slabinski. Managers should reassess their workers' responsibilities, she says, and take those "non-mission critical projects off their plates."

But if your company's workforce is already stretched thin as it is, there is yet another way to boost inventiveness. In a recent study, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that the color red can increase accuracy, while blue can foster more creativity. Maybe all your downtrodden, browbeaten staff needs is a fresh coat of blue paint on the office walls.




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