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Creative Activities May Boost Job Performance

Update Date: Apr 17, 2014 06:16 PM EDT

Painting, dancing, writing poems or other creative extracurricular activities may help boost productivity at work, according to a new study on job performance.

The latest findings reveal that employees who participate in creative activities outside of work are better at solving problems and helping others.

Researchers said the latest study suggests that engaging in creative activities outside of work may have a direct positive effect on work performance by boosting creative problem solving and helpfulness.

The latest study also wanted to see if creative activity might have an indirect impact on employees' performance by providing them with a way to recuperate from the everyday demands of their job. Researchers also wanted to see if creative activities restore workers through relaxation, enhancing their sense of control, or testing them to acquire new skills that can help job performance.

"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," researcher Kevin Eschleman, an organizational psychologist at San Francisco State University, said in a news release.

Researchers said that the participants were free to define creative activities however they wished. Previous studies revealed that people spent their creative time doing a range of things like writing poems or playing video games.

Eschleman said that people " usually describe it as lush, as a deep experience that provides a lot of things for them."

"But they also talk about this idea of self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves, and that isn't always captured with the current recovery experience models," he added.

The latest study involved 341 employees from a major national survey and another group of 92 active duty U.S. Air Force captains.

Researchers recommend employers encourage their employees to engage in more creative activities outside of work. However, they noted that having a right tone is essential to promoting creativity outside work.

"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 said.

They said that employers could also promote creative activities at work by holding department cake baking or office decorating contests. Companies can also provide discounts to local art galleries, museums and other outlets for creativity.

"A lot of organizations carve time out where they talk about physical heath and exercise and eating habits, but they can also include in that a discussion of mental health and the importance of recovery and creative activity," Eschleman said.

The study was published April 17 in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

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