One of the latest Gallup surveys found that only 13 percent of people worldwide like going to work. That means that 87 percent of people either unhappy or somewhere in-between. While some will (try to) go the extra mile to make their jobs more fun, others may have to resort to finding happiness outside of work. For them, creative activities may be the answer to improving their workplace happiness and performance.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Kevin Eschleman, having a creative outlet outside of work can help people recover from job demands, as the activity promotes relaxation and regaining control over one’s thoughts. As a result, some skills learned from the activity can then be transferred over — creative problem solving is a great asset to some jobs — and helping coworkers out.
“It can be rare in research to find that what we do in our personal time is related to our behaviors in the workplace, and not just how we feel,” said Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology, in a press release. But indeed, the creative experiences participants had outside of work led to reported “self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves.”
The researchers looked at the answers 341 employees gave to a national survey regarding their creative activities, the things they did during their days off, and job performance — this included how creative they felt they were when working and how inclined they were to help co-workers out. Another 92 active duty U.S. Air Force captains were also asked the same questions, although their work performance was gauged by coworkers and subordinates.
Although the researchers urge employers to encourage employees to get creative outside of work, it’s really up to the employee to find that motivation. Some people just aren’t the creative types, and would rather sleep or get active instead. “One of the main concerns is that you don’t want to have someone feel like their organization is controlling them, especially when it comes to creative activities,” Eschleman said in the release, “because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity.”
Employees seeking to become more creative won’t only help themselves get better at their job. It’ll also help them live longer, according to a 2012 study. As creative activities outside of work help forge creative problem solving skills, they also form new connections inside the brain, leading to improved mental health and lower stress.
Source: Eschleman K, Madsen J, Alarcon G, et al. The positive relationships between creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 2014.