“Customers want a more personal service and we show that a more creative approach is a way to enhance their experience,” said Dr Ieva Martinaityte, lead author and business and management lecturer at the University of East Anglia.
“Delighting the customer will increasingly stem from frontline employees’ creative rather than scripted role performance.
“Our findings suggest that this may be supported by adopting a set of HR practices that are geared towards the environments and skills necessary to motivate creative performance.”
Martinaityte and her fellow researchers also found that putting more creative practices in place created a highly engaged workforce, with most workers surveyed saying that they were happy with their roles.
The employees also felt they had more control in their work, they felt more competent, and they felt more connected with the people in their team.
In their study, Delighting the customer: creativity-oriented high performance work systems, frontline employee creative performance and customer satisfaction, the researchers recommended that companies “include workshops to help staff increase their creative confidence and training to provide creative thinking and problem solving techniques”.
Businesses should also provide training for managers of frontline employees to help enable employee creativity, they said.
They also added that offering rewards and recognition for individual and team ideas could encourage creativity.
The study was conducted by surveying 329 employees of 53 branches of two international companies operating in retail banking and cosmetics. The questionnaire included topics such as high performance work systems, need satisfactions, and creative process systems.
Managers were asked to rate their employees’ creative performance and the extent to which HR implemented creativity-oriented practices within their branch.
This study was published in the Journal of Management.
While most companies in the service sector usually associate customer facing roles with scripted behaviours, a recent study suggested that businesses could benefit more from creativity-oriented HR practices.