olympics-in-the-workplaceCreativity in the workplace is critical to enable businesses to survive and thrive, particularly during a recession, but only 30% of UK firms are doing anything to encourage it.

That’s according to research carried out by top UK business coach and leading psychologist Ros Taylor, whose latest book Creativity at Work, published by Kogan Page challenges the traditional definition of creativity and highlights how firms are stifling ideas and innovation at a time when it’s vital for UK businesses to foster a creative environment in order to stay afloat.

Taylor says: “Creativity is the precursor to innovation, the practical result – creativity made manifest. Innovation can transform a business into an adaptive and evolving entity, yet only 25% of employees in the UK are actively given time to come up with new ideas in the workplace. If there were ever a time that we require to do things differently and have ideas it is now!”

Taylor’s research, which included a poll of 1,000 working people in the UK and interviews with leaders from organisations around the world, highlights common misconceptions around what creativity is. Many case study subjects stated that they felt creativity was the preserve of the artistic and that they didn’t see their workplace as a space for it; although they had ideas at work, they didn’t rate this as being ‘creative’. Taylor disagrees. “Creativity is about new ideas in any domain, even the world of work, whether you’re a designer or a HR Director,” says Taylor. She proposes that individuals fall into one of four different creative styles and that diverse teams with all creative styles represented perform better because by working together the team can fully engage with the creative process without accidentally ‘short-circuiting’ some of the key steps. She argues that UK companies should actively hire for creativity and that employees should be routinely assessed to determine their creative styles. Without an intentional approach to creativity at work, individual team members may be prevented from playing to their strengths and frustration or conflict may hinder the company’s overall productivity.

Taylor’s research also outlines how many employers are failing to create the right environment for creativity and ignoring important components such as valuing feedback, fostering diversity and encouraging brainstorming. “If employers don’t see their workplace as a space for creativity and their role as fostering it, how can we expect there to be new ideas and true innovation in business?” says Taylor.

“Ideas are the lifeblood of a company and organisation. Those businesses that recognize this and take creativity seriously are already poised for success,” added Taylor.