Study: You’ll be creative at work only with the permission, time, and freedom to do so

Employees want to be creative, and it’s up to management to create a culture that allows for it.

Permission, time, and freedom. A new Gallup study of 16,500 employees called, “Fostering Creativity at Work” found that those were the three things needed to encourage creativity in the workplace.

Yet far too often, they’re just ideas.

Only 29% of employees strongly agreed that they were expected to be creative or come up with new solutions at work, with 32% just agreeing.

Creativity requires time, which not all workers have. While 30% say they’ve been given time to think creatively on the job or talk about new ideas “daily,” 35% say they only have time to be creative a few times a year, less, or not at all.

Creativity at work is risky – it’s a time-consuming exercise that can lead to new products – or it can lead to nothing at all.  Perhaps because of this risk, only 18% of employees strongly agree that they can take risks at work that could lead to major new products or solutions.

“When employees are given expectations and time to be creative, they are more confident in taking an innovative approach to important problems, products or services,” the study concluded after analysis of their data.

When tinkering with the elements – permission, time, and freedom to take risks and be creative – to see what effect that had on data, researchers noticed interesting results. For example, less that two in 10 employees strongly agreed that they could take risks and be creative – but when all three elements of permission, time, and freedom to take risks were in place, that number went up to seven in 10.

It’s up to management to redesign their organization and culture if they want to get to that seven out of 10, however. Employees can only innovate when they’re supported by their employer, and when they feel it’s possible and safe to do so.

Here’s something to get your creative juices going all on your own.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.