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July 27, 2017updated 28 Jul 2017 2:41pm

Microsoft: Creativity key to avoiding business failure

Creativity is said to be one of the top three skills workers will need in order to succeed by 2020. However, Microsoft Surface research found that 40% of employees don’t feel managers reward creativity or innovation.

By CBR Staff Writer

Creativity is said to be one of the top three skills workers will need in order to succeed by 2020. However, Microsoft Surface research found that 40% of employees don’t feel managers reward creativity or innovation.

The research carried out by Microsoft looked into the views of 1,100 workers.  The findings outlined just under half of employees surveyed said an uninspiring workplace made them lack creativity, whilst 34% stated it was due to stressful atmospheres and 28% said a lack of ‘appropriate’ space to focus and think.

Although 73% of respondents said themselves to be creative, the demands of the evolving workplace need rethinking with stress and overworking stopping employee ability to tackle problems and produce good ideas. Businesses across the UK face a lack of creativity being created within the workplace if improvements aren’t made, according to research launched by Microsoft today.

Read more: The rise of online learning – the cure to the UK’s digital skills gap?

One result from the research found half of workers felt least creative when they were tired. In response to this, neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis, outlined, at Microsoft’s ‘Unleashing the Creator Within’ Event, that scientific evidence supports the theory of ‘creative napping’ to benefit a workers creative drive and momentum.

Microsoft: Creativity key to avoiding business failure

Microsoft Surface research finds lack of creativity could risk failure of businesses

He used Thomas Edison as an example, who fell asleep with balls in his hand so the moment they dropped awoke him, which was the exact moment an innovative creation would spring into his mind.

To support Dr Jack’s view, Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface Lead, Microsoft UK said the simple action of going out of the office for a walk, or doing a different task could enhance creative thinking allowing for more creativity to be produced at work.

These ideas were supported by the evidence from Microsoft’s research, which found respondents were at their best ability to be creative and solve problems when having time to themselves (42%), taking a walk (26%) or being outdoors, away from the office (21%).

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Asourdian said: “Helping people and workers improve their creativity is critical to the future of the UK economy, and many businesses and workplaces are not yet set up in ways that reward or foster this skill. To inspire innovation, workers must be equipped with the right training and tools – including devices that enable employees to work where they are most creative yet still collaborate effectively; diverse office spaces for different kinds of working; and a work-life balance that enables them the head space to think through problems. With these tools, businesses and the UK economy can reap the benefits of a creative workforce.”

The research also found that 32% of respondents thought workplace environments and organisational processes acted as barriers to their creativity.

The layout of workplace environments was a factor Serena Borghero, from global workplace expert Steelcase, reported to affect creativity. Open space was said to interrupt workers every three minutes, and a lack of varied spaces can be a real danger to creativity and innovations.

Another point discussed was the theory of ‘brainstorming’. This supported the evidence of organisational processes stopping the creative process, as workers felt pressured to come up with creative ideas that were ‘good enough’ for their managers.

Read more: Bridging the Big Data Skills Gap: Trends, Training, and System Shortfalls

Dr Lewis carried out an experiment in Germany with ITV to change the way workers think and use the term ‘brain shake’. The idea was to have employees write their ideas down in confidence, and then each idea would be read out and voted on the best giving the pros and cons. As a result, the German company continued to use the process as they reported back to Dr Lewis it helped workers be more creative because they felt more confident to put ideas forward.

Survey respondents believe their organisations weren’t doing enough to address the issue. Whilst 49% of employees feel that learning new creativity skills would help them be more effective in their role, three quarters of UK employees say they have not been offered training to nurture these skills within the past two years.

Asourdian concluded: “Businesses must do more to provide employees with the right working environment to handle different kinds of tasks, and the flexibility to get out of the office to spark their creativity.

“This research shows a clear lack of investment in innovation and creativity training, which is especially alarming when we consider the potential impact to the UK economy. The services sector is vital to UK GDP and its success has been built on our ability to solve problems in new and innovative ways. If UK businesses are not able to find ways to spark creativity within the workplace, they’re at risk of falling behind.”

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