Why creativity isn’t just important for ‘creative’ jobs (2022)

There are plenty of common traits shared by people from every walk of life, working at all levels, in each part of the world – for example, all of us eat, breathe, sleep and have imagination.

But until that imagination is applied to something, can we all honestly say that we’re creative? And what exactly is creativity? A philosophy? A work of art? Essentially, creativity is both of those things, but it can be simplified into just two intrinsically linked processes – thinking and producing.

Creativity is critical for future career success

The Oxford Dictionary definition of creativityis: “The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” And, compelling research suggests that if you want to ensure you’re destined for a prosperous and rewarding career in the future, you should find a way to nurture your creativity as soon as possible.

As technology infiltrates our world of work further and further, it is our innate, human skills, such as our creativity, which will hold the highest value. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the demand for higher cognitive skills, including creativity, will rise almost 10% by 2030. Personally, I think the rate of demand will rise much faster, and higher from what I see in the world of work today.

Human creativity is immune to automation. If you really think about it, this is a human skill which cannot be borrowed, replicated or programmed by a machine. Instead, it must be identified, employed and positioned in an environment where it will thrive. This invaluable skill will become essential for problem solving, strategising, and generating the ideas that will drive businesses forward. But is a degree of creativity important in every role, regardless of its core professional focus?

Do all jobs require a degree of creativity?

Near the turn of this century, American economist and sociologist Richard Florida published his much-debated thesis ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’. He had recognised that a ‘super creative core’ of workers was transforming certain industries and, that in order for businesses and communities to fully realise the power of this skill, it needed to be surrounded by everything it required to thrive.

Over the following years, the ‘Creative Class strategy’ was adopted as a business model, as progressive businesses sought to tap into this exciting and rare resource. However, much of the criticism that followed was based on where Florida believed creativity would thrive – the creative industries alone. Work that involved high tech, innovation and occupations within the arts and cultural industries was highly lauded – but what about everyone else? I’m talking about the software or web developer, who solves problems all day long, or the accountant, who can look at figures in way that helps businesses maximise the efficiency of their revenue? Customer-facing people, too, work and communicate creatively – simultaneously – in unpredictable environments.

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Well, although Florida may have missed a creative trick there, you may have already noticed how employers are reacting, across many sectors. The job title of ‘Chief Innovation Officer’, for instance, has become more prominent as businesses seek new ways of inspiring their workforce. Creativity actually makes businesses more competitive, therefore individual creativity is an asset that no business can be without.

While Florida’s thesis remains controversial to this day, there is one thing he wrote that has never been questioned – creativity is essential, and it is everywhere. Another PhD, Balder Onarheim, firmly believes that “creativity is not just about art. It lies at the heart of innovation, thus it is not a superficial skill, but a necessity for human survival.”

And what do we do to survive? Alongside eating, drinking, sleeping and breathing, we make decisions. We come up with solutions to social and financial problems. And, of course, we do all this in the workplace, too – making it a fundamental quality of our skillset, whether we currently utilise it, or not.

But we were all creative, once

Interestingly, Onarheim acknowledged a fact that many people forget as they grow older – that we are all born creative. Remember the last time you saw a child play with a toy, or even an inanimate object – turning it into something else entirely, using only their mind? How many times have we all seen that child take an empty cardboard box and often play with it for longer than the toy that came in it? All of us start life with this creative mindset of curiosity, a brain full of questions, and a passion for problem solving.

However, this naturally diminishes as we enter education and then graduate into work. Regular, routine practices can utterly stifle the continued development of creative thinking, which in turn, damages creative decision making and problem solving.

Ultimately, instead of learning to become more creative as we age, we excel at forgetting just how creative we naturally are. But it doesn’t need to be this way for everyone, forever. You can begin, right now, by looking at the way you work, and asking yourself “what could I do differently, today?”

3 ways to build on your natural creativity

And with creativity set to become the ultimate commodity for businesses over the next decade, here are several ways you can put yourself in the ideal position to build on your natural creativity and use it to your advantage in your career.

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1. Feed your brain by disconnecting

Did you know that you’re more likely to have your brightest and best ideas when your mind is elsewhere? And this doesn’t mean while focusing on a spreadsheet at work. It’s those simple, everyday tasks like taking a shower, going for a walk or allowing your mind to wander into a thoughtless – but ultimately thoughtful – daydream that can be the perfect way to discover inspiration. This is a concept Manoush Zomorodiexplains brilliantly in her Ted Talk.

Similarly (and this really takes us back to childhood creativity), play – both in and out of work – can be crucial. Simple games like ping-pong or squash have us problem-solving and strategising at high speed, while most of us also carry one device that excels at quickly slowing our creativity.

When it comes to your smartphone, you shouldn’t be afraid to switch off your notifications (as Bruce Daisley, EMEA VP at Twitter recommends in his recent podcast), check your emails only at specific times of the day, and turn it off completely a good hour before you sleep. By getting into a routine of not using your phone, you’ll quickly become more productive when you are using it for work emails, document sharing, and planning your day. These periods of short, digital detoxes will also allow your mind the space to start to think more creatively, as explained in this Entrepreneur article.

Lastly, think back to the last really good dream you had. Could you imagine coming up with such an exciting and immersive adventure? Well, you did, and you weren’t even awake at the time. The link between good sleep and creativity is already well established, hence the term ‘sleep on it’, and the link between smartphones and poor sleep is also widely recognised by professionals.

2. From a deep sleep, undertake deep work

Deep work is the ability to work consistently on a demanding task, using complete focus and free from distraction. When performed regularly, deep work is a big boost to creativity, as you spend longer periods of time thinking about one item of work, or one problem.

You might think you already do this, but distractions come in many forms. For instance, did you know that the average person checks their email more than 70 times every day, and switches between tasks on their computer an incredible 566 times?! Plus, if you haven’t rested properly, you’re much more likely to give in to those hundreds of distractions as your mind wanders in a way that’s only ever detrimental to creativity.

3. Change longstanding habits and routines, inside and outside of work

If you’ve been in your current role for a relatively long period of time, you may have found yourself in a bit of a rut, and this stagnation will naturally be hampering your ability to think creatively. As Priscilla Claman says in Harvard Business Review piece, “The first few months on any job can be exhausting as well as exciting, so people naturally settheir work lives into a groove after a while. In time, that groove can turn into a rut. And people in a rut can develop habits that kill off their own creativity.”

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Now is the time to take a step back and think about those longstanding habits and routines which may be negatively impacting your creativity. Is there any part of your working day, or in fact, the way you do things in general which could be changed for the better? Could you be more proactive in sharing your knowledge and ideas with others? Could your workspace do with a refresh? Does the way you conduct meetings need a rethink? Take a step back and look at a typical working day for you: how can you mix things up and thus allow your mind to become more creative? Question everything and every process, and you’ll soon start to feel yourself becoming more engaged, inquisitive and more innovative.

And this doesn’t advice doesn’t just apply to inside of the office. There are changes you can make outside of the office which will positively impact your creativity. For instance, when was the last time you listened to a podcast, or attended an industry event? When was the last time you made a conscious effort to meet new people, try new things, and reflect on what you’ve done? Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will automatically push your creativity.

So, I’ve come to the end of my blog. I hope I’ve highlighted for you that being creative isn’t just important for those who have stereotypically ‘creative’ jobs. Far from it. It’s important for all of us, no matter what we do. And, in order to secure our long-term career success, it’s important we recognise this, and take proactive steps to embrace and build on the natural creativity we’re all born with – before it slips away.

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Author

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Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance for UK&I. She provides strategic leadership to a team of over 300 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across nearly 100 offices. With 25 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a track record of recruiting top finance talent for businesses across a range of industry sectors, and is a trusted industry voice on recruitment, career planning and market insights.

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Karen also leads development and delivery of social and environmental purpose at Hays UK&I. This focuses on how the business supports local communities with a particular focus on improving skills and employability, as well as steps to safeguard the natural environment. Karen leads a Hays UK Charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness focusing on strategic input to the employability element of the EYH Independent Futures programme, that supports young people into work and independent living.

FAQs

Is creativity important in all kinds of jobs? ›

Creativity Increases Problem-Solving

With the ability to think creatively and outside of the box, employees are more likely to come up with unique and innovative solutions to obstacles they encounter. This eagerness to solve problems can lead to new ways to accomplish tasks and adds to a more efficiently run business.

Why creativity is more important than ever? ›

Creativity makes the world a better, more beautiful, more friendly place. When you think creatively, you're opening your heart and mind and you're relating to people as humans. Creativity is an incredibly human thing. When we get too stuck in our heads we wind up acting in ways that can be harmful.

Is creativity a job skill? ›

Creativity is a valuable workplace skill because it can be a useful tool for developing new ideas, increasing efficiency and devising solutions to complex problems. While you may have natural creativity skills in certain forms, it is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.

Which is more important creativity or knowledge? ›

A creative person puts something into action by developing new ideas, while an imaginative person just thinks about something. Therefore, it's fair to use the famous Albert Einstein quote here, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination spans the world.”

Is creativity important in workplace? ›

For some jobs, it might not be immediately obvious how they could incorporate creativity into their work. However, creativity in the workplace is more important than you might imagine. In fact, 94% of hiring managers say it's important to consider creativity when evaluating a job candidate.

Is creativity needed in the world today? ›

Creativity allows us to view and solve problems more openly and with innovation. Creativity opens the mind. A society that has lost touch with its creative side is an imprisoned society, in that generations of people may be closed minded. It broadens our perspectives and can help us overcome prejudices.

How does creativity lead to success? ›

Individual creativity empowers children to be themselves and stay true to what they love. People who are given the opportunity to express themselves continue their creative interests as they mature. Successful people find unique solutions to situations or problems; creativity creates avenues for success.

What makes a work creative? ›

A creative work is a manifestation of creative effort such as artwork, literature, music, paintings, and software. Creative works have in common a degree of arbitrariness, such that it is improbable that two people would independently create the same work. Creative works are part of property rights.

Why Being creative is challenging? ›

The creative process requires effort, demands patience, and defies the status quo. Being creative can be risky. It's akin to stepping into unexplored waters, scaling lofty heights, or travelling through a tangled tropical forest. The way forward is not distinct, nor is it guaranteed to be safe.

Is creativity a talent or a skill? ›

Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com: Creativity is a soft skill. Other soft skills include critical thinking, collaboration, and negotiation. It is a skill because it can be learned. It can also be sucked dry out of people when there is too much emphasis on rote learning and standardization.

Is creativity a natural talent? ›

Creativity isn't a mysterious trait, or passed on through genetics. Creativity is a process that can be learned, honed and mastered. Tools can increase creativity, but one of the most significant ways to jumpstart creativity is to cultivate your internal drive to come up with new or breakthrough ideas.

What skills are needed for creativity? ›

Some of the best examples of creative thinking skills may include: lateral-thinking, visual reading, out-of-the-box thinking, copywriting, artistic creativity, problem-solving, analytical mind, and divergent thinking. Here are the best creative thinking techniques you can use.

What did Albert Einstein say about creativity? ›

Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun.” -Albert Einstein.

Which is better efficiency or creativity? ›

Creativity and efficiency both are necessary for everyone because without creativity we can't think of any new ideas and without efficiency, we can not work on new ideas and can not get knowledge about ideas.

Why is imagination more important than knowledge? ›

Einstein famously said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

What does job creativity mean? ›

Creative thinking might mean devising new ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. It means bringing a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to your work. This way of thinking can help departments and organizations be more productive.

What does it mean to be creative in the workplace? ›

Creativity in the workplace is the act of transforming new, innovative ideas into reality. Creative employees and managers ask questions and identify new ways to perform tasks. They are more likely to experiment with different ideas in the workplace, which can lead to new processes that benefit everyone.

What are some examples of creativity in the workplace? ›

A good example might be to open meetings with a personal or otherwise novel touch. A leader might go around the meeting and ask for a personal detail as well as a business-related development. In doing so, they send the message that they care about the employee in a broader sense than a purely revenue-related one.

Is creativity the skill of the future? ›

Without creativity, there is no innovation. That's why creativity is among the top 10 most essential skills of the future, according to the World Economic Forum.

How does creativity help in the future? ›

“Creativity enables us to cope with uncertainty, to challenge perceptions, and make positive change in the world,” she continues. “There's an urgent need for skills like creativity, resilience and enthusiasm, and the pandemic and ongoing world events have only intensified that need.”

How does creativity change the world? ›

Creativity has been the motivation for many of the greatest inventions in history. It's allowed us to live longer, healthier lives, communicate with each other, and do many things more efficiently. Creativity is something that's made us human.

Why do people lack creativity? ›

Perfectionism, lack of self confidence, negative beliefs rooted through education or schooling and fear of change prohibits creativity. To neutralize this inner tyrant and stop self-censorship, one can start a creative newspaper on the principle of a diary by adding drawings, collages, newspaper clippings and photos.

What prevents creative thinking? ›

Rigid Thinking

Among significant barriers to creative thinking is rigidity or having a fixed mindset. Preconceived ideas impair the ability to think in an unconventional way or come up with out-of-the-box solutions. Another problem that can arise is when we start to think about the idea in terms of its source.

What are the factors affecting creativity? ›

Creativity can be based on some factors such as learning, experience, motivation, imagination, intelligence, flexibility and personality. These factors may affect human creativity and most of the creative acts are unexpected.

Is creativity important for success in life? ›

Success—at work and at home—is always fueled by creativity and imagination. And it's a myth that these creative thinking skills can't be learned or enhanced. If you practice these four skills, you will become a respected creative thinker who is valued as a problem solver at work and at home.

How do you sharpen creativity skills? ›

11 Tricks for Sharpening Your Creative Edge
  1. Get off the internet. ...
  2. Make a list of 50 things. ...
  3. Ask a stranger for an opinion. ...
  4. Immerse yourself in a culture different from your own. ...
  5. Exercise somewhere new. ...
  6. Take an improvisation class. ...
  7. Spend some time people watching. ...
  8. Get some advice from someone who's smart.
2 Aug 2018

Does creativity lead to innovation? ›

Creativity and innovation are two related but separate notions, and each is required for workplace success. Here's the difference, and how you can inspire both. Creativity doesn't lead to company inventions and growth, innovation does. However, innovation doesn't happen without creative people on board.

Is creativity important for management Why or why not? ›

Organizations today operate in a highly competitive, global environment, making creativity crucial. Creativity is what fuels big ideas, challenges employees' way of thinking, and opens the door to new business opportunities.

What does job creativity mean? ›

Creative thinking might mean devising new ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. It means bringing a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to your work. This way of thinking can help departments and organizations be more productive.

How important is creativity in the 21st century workplace? ›

Creativity, along with innovation are critical skills for achieving success in the 21st century workplace. Creativity is the ability to produce new, diverse and unique ideas. Thinking creatively means looking at things from a different perspective and not be restricted by rules, customs, or norms.

Is creativity important for success? ›

Creativity can be an important tool in helping you avoid burnout. Creativity can help you infuse joy back into your life when things have gotten monotonous. It can help you keep your life well-rounded so that you're able to work hard and play hard.

Why creativity is the most important skill in the world? ›

Creativity allows us to view and solve problems more openly and with innovation. Creativity opens the mind. A society that has lost touch with its creative side is an imprisoned society, in that generations of people may be closed minded. It broadens our perspectives and can help us overcome prejudices.

What will happen if there is no creativity? ›

Without creativity, there is no innovation.

Without that creative vision, there is nothing to innovate. It's rather like trying to make an omelet without eggs. It just will not work. That means that in order to keep up with your innovative competition, you can buy ideas, steal ideas or fade into irrelevance.

Is being creative a strength? ›

Creativity is a strength within the virtue category of wisdom, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Wisdom describes strengths that help you gather and use knowledge. The other strengths in Wisdom are creativity , curiosity , judgment , love of learning , and perspective .

How do creative thinkers think? ›

Creative thinking is a skill which lets you consider things from a fresh perspective and different angles. It's an inventive thought process which results in surprising conclusions and new ways of doing things. Creative thinking can be aided by brainstorming or lateral thinking to generate ideas.

Is creativity a skill or talent? ›

Creativity is a skill that can be learned, refined, and improved. It's not something you either have or don't have – it's like any other skill in life: The more you practice it, the better you get at it. The key to creativity is figuring out what works for you- finding your own process and then mastering it.

What are some examples of creativity at work? ›

There are plenty of examples of creative thinking/doing skills in a work situation, from devising a social media strategy for a new product; to arranging an in-store display for maximum impact; to devising a new way of processing reimbursements; to strengthening the quality of customer service (with proven results).

How do you explain creativity in a job interview? ›

Demonstrate you have the intellectual ability to understand the creative process and what makes a good idea by talking through your own campaigns. Start with the insight and explain where the idea came from, why it worked and what value it delivered. Never forget that.

Why is creativity an essential skill in the twenty first century? ›

Creativity is the practice of thinking outside the box.

It means students will be able to look at a problem from multiple perspectives — including those that others may not see. This 21st-Century Skill allows students to embrace their inner strengths from big-picture planning to meticulous organization.

How can creative thinking be used in the workplace? ›

Another of the benefits of creative thinking in the workplace is that creativity boosts team morale and loyalty. When you encourage your employees to come up with new ideas, you show that you trust their abilities and imagination. When an employer trusts the staff, the company often receives loyalty in return.

Why open mind is needed for creative thinking? ›

Benefits of Being Open-Minded

Challenging your existing beliefs and considering new ideas can give you fresh insights into the world and also teach you new things about yourself. Have new experiences. Being open to other ideas can also open you up to trying new things. Achieve personal growth.

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