When Leading a Business, When Does Creativity Matter?

Creativity is vital in today’s business environment, especially as millennials make up the largest generation in the workforce.
creativity

By now we all have heard that millennials are currently the largest generation in the workforce.

And while I will share some data and implications associated with this fact, it is fair to say that as a non-millennial and proud member of Generation X, many of the needs presented by the millennial generation should be important to businesses looking to support multigenerational workplaces and strong work-life balance.

If you’re looking to lead that type of business, then creativity fully matters.

Millennials have identified three areas of want from current and prospective employers: professional development, commitment to community service and philanthropy and clarity about the company’s mission and values.

Here are three ways infusing creativity into your environment addresses these wants:

Professional Development

According to SmartCEO, 63 percent of millennials say their leadership skills are not being fully developed by their current employer.

By including arts and creativity in the workplace you can bring forth leadership opportunities, unleash originality and solve other business needs. Take notes from Center of Creative Arts, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that offers dance, theater, voice, art and design but also integrates arts into the core subjects in ways that strengthen students’ understanding of math, science and language arts.

Center of Creative Arts began exploring how its arts educators could help companies unleash creativity and work on key issues and opportunities and realized they could apply the same strategy to business applications — pairing hands-on teaching artists with business facilitators who could map the artistic lessons back to the everyday language business people use and the challenges they face.

This helped employees connect with their creative passions and develop skills that aren’t fully explored through work experiences.

Commitment to Community Service and Philanthropy

According to the SmartCEO survey, about 87 percent of millennials believe the success of a business should be measured by more than just financial performance.

Going beyond the numbers, consider gaging your company’s success through opportunities to strengthen employee engagement, encourage personal growth and inspire employees to innovate and collaborate.

A few ways to accomplish this: Team training event with artistic elements like improv, movement or visual creation; workplace art programs; corporate art collections; match programs for employees’ arts nonprofit giving; and business volunteer for the arts programs.

These efforts can boost philanthropic and community service while purposefully enhancing company value, employee morale and productivity. A treasured outcome, outlined in this pARTnership Movement essay, is “high levels of attachment to the organization and a desire to remain part of that organization and a willingness to go above and beyond the formal requirements of the job by being good corporate citizens, pouring extra effort into their work and delivering superior performance.”

Clarity about Values

Among those millennials who intend to stay in their current job for at least another five years, 92 percent believe their employer shares their personal values, according to SmartCEO.

As employers continue to think about engagement, retention and recruitment strategies, prioritizing creative elements that influence company culture will allow your people to shine and your shared values to align. Employees desire to work for companies that meet their values and in jobs that bring them personal satisfaction.

Because of this connection, the city of Des Moines, Iowa, sought to boost appeal with young professionals by including strong artistic doses in the community.

In 2015, Forbes called Des Moines the No. 2 best city for jobs. Before that, Forbes named Des Moines the No. 1 best city for young professionals and, in 2014, Fortune named Des Moines the No. 1 city with an up-and-coming downtown. To help generate an environment that people want to stay in or move to, especially between the ages of 25 and 35, artistic hubs like Des Moines Social Club are significant for the community, developing and hosting artistic events while also undertaking a community-building mission. Area businesses can benefit from hubs like DMSC that produce between 700 and 800 events per year and reach an annual audience of more than 240,000 people.

These few examples reiterate two key messages. The first is that employees want to live and work in a vibrant workplace and community. The second is that creative and artistic influences help your company remain more attractive to existing and potential talent.

Jessica Gaines is the business committee for the arts coordinator at Americans for the Arts. To comment, email editor@talenteconomy.io.