An untapped driver of employee creativity & innovation: happy marriages
16 April 2020 – While many companies have focused on building an optimal office environment to get the best out of their employees, there may be another way to boost creativity in the workplace. A research conducted by Professor Xu Huang from the School of Business of Hong Kong Baptist University suggests that a key to taking employee creativity to the next level is investing in the well-being of their relationships at home.
The study finds that the strength of the relationship or marriage at home can have a great effect on the creativity of employees – particularly on those who struggle to be creative. The study looked at how satisfying marriages impact an employee’s “psychological resources” at work – namely their ability to be creative and innovate useful solutions – and showed that:
Employees satisfied with their marriages experience a positive spillover of psychological resources into their work life
When an employee’s spouse is also happy with the marriage, this spillover effect is even more pronounced and more powerfully enriches workplace creativity
Interestingly, this effect applies only to employees who are less creative, as highly creative individuals are less reliant on the boost in resources from a good marriage
In contrast, marriages with dissatisfied spouses and less intimacy consume the employees’ psychological resources as opposed to boosting them. This indicates that partners can exert a strong influence over an employee’s work performance and that a high-quality marriage is conducive to creativity at work.
As relationships outside of the office may constitute an important source of workplace creativity, it is important to consider these relationships and work-life balance when discussing employee welfare. Providing family-friendly policies, especially marriage-related measures, are poised to have a profound and multifaceted benefit on organizations. Here are some ways to consider supporting your employee’s relationships at home and improving their creative performance at the office as a result:
Family-friendly policies should be seen as investments in innovation – The study showed that satisfaction with marriage is particularly helpful in facilitating the workplace creativity for less-creative employees. As such, providing family-friendly policies to help employees’ marriage not only benefits the individual employees, but will also help to increase the innovative capabilities of organizations. Companies would be well-served to enact measures that help employees maintain a good relationship with their spouse. Whether this is in the form of special marriage anniversary leave or helping facilitate relationship-counseling services, there is a range of supportive options that may bring about substantial benefits.
Observe the needs of spouses when proposing work-life balance initiatives – The results of the study offer new insight into potential managerial interventions that aim at striking a better work–family balance. The study suggests that managers may need to take into account the feelings of the focal employees’ spouse when developing work–family balance practices and interventions. In this scenario, developing a system for mutual communication and feedback may be a critical step.
Prioritize the relationships of less creative employees, as they are most in need – Scholars and practitioners have paid much attention to the strategies that maximize the creativity of employees with a high creative potential, leaving practices that cultivate creativity among less-creative employees largely unexplored. Results revealed that psychological resources gained from a satisfying marriage enhance the workplace creativity for less-creative employees, but not that of employees who already possess a highly creative personality. Employees with a high creative personality are naturally predisposed to actively and energetically engaging in creative activities, meaning they are in less need of relying on psychological resources from good marriages. Less-creative employees tend to need these resources more to perform.
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