Monday, December 1, 2008

Creativity, innovation and happiness at work

The key to innovation is happiness at work, says Chief Happiness Officer Alexander Kjerulf.

In a recent post on one of his favorite subjects, Alexander shared some insightful take-aways from a trip to London to attend the Top Dog Live innovation conference. This year’s theme - innovation in tough times.

Whether you’re working in London or in the U.S., the theme is especially fitting today with the National Bureau of Economic Research officially stating that the U.S. is in a recession and has been for the past year.

As our economy struggles, businesses continue to make decisions that cut back on work benefits that foster innovation, including training and development. Those decisions are “precisely the wrong thing to do,” says Alexander, reminding us that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

Alexander’s main take-away from the event was the focus on people and how to make employees happy at work. The majority of conversations dealt less with compensation and stock options, and were more centered around “praise, recognition, good leadership, openness, trust, freedom and fun in the workplace.”

Like Alexander writes about in most of his posts, happy employees are more creative. According to Harvard Business School Research:

If people are in a good mood on a given day, they’re more likely to have creative ideas that day, as well as the next day, even if we take into account their mood that next day.

There seems to be a cognitive process that gets set up when people are feeling good that leads to more flexible, fluent, and original thinking, and there’s actually a carryover, an incubation effect, to the next day.

In order to harness that creativity, more businesses must understand the importance of play and playfulness in the workplace. At Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds examined the belief that “play is good for you” and for business. In the post he shares a video of Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo, making a presentation on the subject.

In this wonderful short presentation Tim makes many salient points about the role of play, playfulness, and creativity and why they matter in our professional or academic lives. You may be a designer of consumer goods, or a medical doctor, or a researcher, or a teacher — every situation is different. But listen to what Tim Brown says and ask yourself how the idea of play might be introduced into your organization in a way that would benefit workers, patients, and students, not only in terms of productivity but also in terms of simply having people feel better (and isn't there a correlation?).

Watch Tim Brown’s presentation below and visit Presentation Zen to read Garr’s summary of the most important points.

Use this holiday season to boost employee creativity and bring more happiness into your workplace, read these related posts:

How to improve morale during the holidays

Employee recognition ideas on the cheap, it’s easier than you think

Employee engagement down, how training can help

Friday office humor: Dodgeball at work

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