Why the candidate with lots of hobbies could be the best pick

by Juliette Willow24 Apr 2014
Don’t be put off if it seems a candidate has a lot going on in their spare time – their creative pursuits outside of work can actually contribute to their performance in the office, according to research from organizational psychologists at San Francisco State University.

Obviously, creative hobbies can assist those with positions that require creative skills like problem solving. However, these researchers wanted to understand the indirect impact that creative hobbies can have, such as allowing workers to recover from stress and increasing their sense of control over their lives.

They found that those who claimed to regularly engage in creative activity were ranked 15-30% higher by their coworkers on performance than those who only occasionally engaged in creative activities. However, the findings do not indicate causation, but merely correlation.

Assistant professor of psychology Kevin Eschleman suggested talking about prioritizing employees’ creative pursuits within the context of conversations about overall wellness.

"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," he said.

The researchers offered tips to encourage employees to engage in more creative hobbies:
  • Strike the right tone Making it an obligation defeats the point, said Eschleman. "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," he said, "because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity."
  • Encourage employees to bring their creative activities into work This could be done through something as simple as a baking contest within a department, or a policy like the one at Zappos, where employees bring in personal artwork to decorate their offices.
  • Collaborate with local businesses to offer discounts Providing discounts to places like art shops, photography studios or craft stores may assist employees in achieving their creative goals.


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