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Creative pursuits might boost your job performance

Updated: April 17, 2014 03:09 PM
Spc. Kevin Taylor learns how to use a pottery wheel (© US Army) Spc. Kevin Taylor learns how to use a pottery wheel (© US Army)

THURSDAY, April 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Creative activities outside of work may help boost your job performance, a new study suggests.

Personal endeavors after-hours help employees recover from on-the-job demands and improve skills such as problem-solving, the researchers report in the April 17 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Researchers surveyed 341 employees across the United States, asking about their creative activities and their work performance. The study also included 92 active duty U.S. Air Force captains who provided details about their creative pursuits and whose job performance was rated by coworkers and subordinates.

Many activities were defined as creative, ranging from writing short stories to playing video games. Whatever their creative activities, the participants "usually describe it as lush, as a deep experience that provides a lot of things for them," Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, said in a university news release.

"But they also talk about this idea of self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves," he added.

Eschleman and his colleagues found that having creative pursuits away from work had a positive effect on problem solving and assisting others while on the job,.

Employers can encourage their workers to do creative things outside work, but need to be careful about how they do it.

"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, because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity," Eschleman explained.

He also said companies can encourage employees to be creative at work through events such as baking contests or having them decorate their offices with personal artwork. Employers can also offer workers discounts to local art studios or other types of creative activities.

More information

PBS explains the importance of encouraging creativity in children.

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