Creativity still valued

Energetic and creative employee needed – the contemporary labor market is filled with such ads. What actually is creativity and why it is so needed for the majority of employers? Can a creative office worker bring concrete benefits to the company?

Creativity, meaning...?

There are many definitions of creativity but all of them have one thing in common, namely a new idea. Generally speaking, creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas. Although some of the workers’ ideas may seem unconventional, it is important that they tackle concrete problems. The idea without any connection with the realities will not be used. The level of workers’ creativity is not evaluated on the basis of the number of new concepts, but on the probability of their application in the company given a specific situation.

Although a general definition of creativity is quite simple, Jacek Olkowski, Managerial Partner in Dedal Konsulting claims, that the understanding of this concept may be different in various trades in which this attribute is required. As a matter of fact, many organizations of a more developed internal culture come up with their own definitions as well as other simple and useful devices facilitating the evaluation by the parties concerned, sometimes with the help of HR departments or exterior specialists – he states. A key index, which at the same time dominates in business, is efficiency. It is understood as a concrete use of creative thinking for the company’s benefit. As such, it allows the employer to verify the quality and usefulness of the employee’s creativity in practice. It is easy to imagine a worker with many interesting ideas, which none of them is applicable in his or hers career and another employee, who seems to be less creative, but his concepts are better ‘situated’ in the realities of business and are efficiently introduced, providing the company with additional advantage on the market. Therefore, there is no simple answer to the question whether the employee is creative or not.

The development of creative business

Creativity itself is a positive attribute. However, it’s worth pointing out that some ideas may be useless in certain trades. There’s a group of professions, connected with, for example, production or technology, where instead of creativity, one should have the ability of analytical thinking and working in accordance with specified procedures.

When asking about creativity in one’s trade, it would be nice to hear that in some professions it is much needed and in others it’s not – says Jacek Olkowski, Managerial Partner in Dedal Konsulting. Unfortunately, clear distinctions between the trades are wearing off, to the point that one cannot honestly state that advertisement, media (being a very broad concept itself) and entertainment related jobs need creative workers more than production (another broad concept), FMCG or finances. Due to the growing customer demands, changes in their behavior and expectations, development of new branches of technology and communication, the changes in some of the social behaviors and above all, changes in customer awareness in the entire culture, companies have to be more elastic, creative and reliable. For example, ten years ago customers wanted travel agencies to offer attractive entertainment, exotic holiday locations and ideas which would make our rest something unique (creativity perhaps?). Nowadays, we want them to be reliable, guarantee safe journey as well as comfort and quality of the services provided. Therefore, the character of the requirements for the travelling business has changed and is still evolving.

Creative Poland, which is known for promoting creative business, comes to the rescue when one needs to see in which jobs the creativity is needed. This project’s website offers a concise definition of this type of business: The creative sector is the area of inventive activity focusing on ingenuity, skills and talent of an individual. By the process of creation, with the use of laws regulating intellectual property, the sector’s representatives cause general development and create new workplaces.

Among the professions making for the creative business in Poland, one can find not only those connected with culture and media. In Creative Poland’s report, jobs in sectors, such as architecture, publishing market, mobile phones and new technologies were included. Due to the fact that all those branches of economy are connected by the act of creation of new solutions, the creative business is becoming increasingly important to polish economy. This is also confirmed by the UN’s report ‘Creative Economy Report 2010’, in which Poland is one of the leading exporters of creative value. Moreover, during the last six years, our country’s position in the report has grown by seven spots (in 2010 Poland was 17).

Creativity in the office?

Creativity’s importance in the economy is increasing. However, how important it can be in the work inside a corporation? Can this attribute be of use in office work?

While looking for the advantages of a creative worker, we need to differentiate between the creativity understood as coming up with new, effective ideas and their evaluation, analysis and introduction in order to gain specific business results – says Jacek Olkowski, Managerial Partner in Dedal Konsulting. Head filled with ideas can be of no use to the company as they can be bad or financially inaccurate ideas. The worker’s creativity is not harmful to the company, only if it is required in his workplace and meets the company’s and director’s demands. Even if some of the ideas may seem misfired, the risk is, or at least should be, included in the process of running the company. In the majority of cases, every idea of the employee is evaluated from various points of view and cannot be introduced without the permission of the direct superior who takes full responsibility for the outcomes of his decisions. Usually it does not mean that the creative employee is not responsible for his idea as everyone is liable according to his or hers position.

As creativity becomes more and more appreciated attribute, it should be developed. Surprisingly that does not necessarily mean serious financial input. As a matter of fact, everyone who wants to develop one’s creativity may make use of specialist attributes training. However, free time activities of ‘what happens when…’ type, creating new dishes from various components and looking for as many uses of a specific item as possible and discovering its new attributes can also help in development of creative thinking.

Employer can also provide training developing creative thinking. However, this kind of benefit can be useful to the company only in certain situations: On the investment in employee level, facilitating of one’s level of creativity by the company makes sense only if the attribute is defined as essential to the employee’s current or future position (for example, for the sake of future promotion or change of position inside the company) – claims Jacek Olkowski, Managerial Partner in Dedal Konsulting. However, to be honest, the prognosis of possible development and costs of such an investment, which may differ depending on the tools used during the training, are lower than costs of recruitment and adaptation (getting the new employee to the level of full efficiency on a certain position) of a new employee, seemingly better fitting in terms of company’s requirements.

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