Tech, interpersonal communication, and teamwork skills are just some of the prerequisites for many jobs. But there are other attributes that should deem a candidate worthy of further consideration. The paramount trait of these unspoken skills is creativity. It’s more than the chair you made… it’s how you made it.
Creativity spawns innovation in the work place. Tech skills and interpersonal communication skills are the current industry buzzwords, but companies like 3M and Hewlett-Packard are one step ahead of the recruiting competition. They allow employees to develop their creative skills in unique ways. Inspiring creative confidence in employees yields products like 3M’s Post-It Notes.
Since 1948, 3M has encouraged their employees to spend 15% of their time at work on their own projects. Not just using work time, but work resources as well, to create teams in “pursuit of problem-solving.”
It took Spencer Silver, chemist for 3M, years to perfect his idea. He was tasked to develop the biggest and best adhesive yet. However, his innovative thought was an idea for a bookmark. The bookmark needed to be able to stick to the page without ripping the paper. “It was part of my job as a researcher to develop new adhesives, and at that time we wanted to develop bigger, stronger, tougher adhesives,” Silver said. “This was none of those.” Silver had created sticky microspheres in the first step towards his non-damaging, sticky bookmark. It wasn’t until a collaborative moment with colleague Art Fry that the microspheres welcomed a practical application. Post-It Notes are found in nearly every office and home office in the United States. They are the brainchild that was the result of time spent dedicated to creativity.
Allowing employees time and resources to work on their own projects not only increases employee engagement, but also company loyalty. Only 18% of employees have the capability to think creatively or strategically at work. Give your employees time to work on their own projects and see what innovation your company can inspire. After all, without that 15% of time dedicated to working on personal projects, we wouldn’t have the Post-It Note.
For the last 45 years, HP has provided labs for their employees to be innovative. These research facilities are “where vision, passion, and ambition become life-changing reality.”
The Machine is HP’s answer to the overwhelming amount of global data. Where did The Machine come from? The HP labs. Computing standards have changed in the last 60 years due to HP lab-founded innovation. It started with a re-imagination of the physical structure of computers. In response to the explosive need for data storage and concern for global protection, HP developed a way to connect data in the cloud and on site. The Machine uses lasers, photons, ions, and electrons instead of copper wires. The first computer took up an entire room; The Machine is merely the next step in saving [virtual] space.
Personal creativity at work leads to corporate innovation with projects like HP’s The Machine. Although Google is touted for dedicating 20% of work hours to professional innovation, they weren’t the first ones. Hewlett-Packard and 3M were the original companies candidates applied to for creative freedom during work hours.
There’s a chance creative employees will leave their organizations if they are not given freedom to explore their creative sides. A surprising 36% of adults leave jobs in pursuit of employment opportunities that give them innovative freedom. 29% of these adults would even take a pay cut in order to have the ability to be creative at work.
Allowing for creativity in the workplace sets these companies aside from the rest. Economic and recruiting success comes from an amalgamation of creative talent, technological skill, and an organizational acceptance of both during work hours. While soft skills and training are still important to the relevancy of a candidate during the recruitment process, look towards personal hobbies and interests. These candidate attributes can indicate innovative thought processes. Your organization can foster this creativity by allowing work hours and resources for project development. Creativity is the skill up to bat… get ahead of the game and start recruiting for creativity as a soft skill.
Bio: Sean Pomeroy, CEO
Sean has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.
Tweet me at @VisSoft