Without a shadow of doubt, the world’s human resources is filled with creative, human talents. In my own little circle, I am virtually blinded with creativity. There are photographers, film makes, musicians, visual artists, animators, graphic designers, interior decorators, painters, and others who help not only to decorate the world with vibrant colours, sounds, images, but help us to translate the depth of the world around us.
A workplace is simply a social laboratory with human resources, demographic make up, and issues that approximate those in the larger society as a whole. I am willing to guess that creative people are employed by and in virtually every workplace on the planet. Creativity is resident even amongst professionals, lawyers, doctors, accountant, highly technical occupations such as engineers, statisticians, and some high political and investment types, to name just a few human resources categories. Just ask George Bush what life is life post the White House. He will tell you that he has explored and publicized his paintings. Ask the former Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal For Ontario, Roy McMurtry some of whose works line the corridors of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Check out the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he jams alongside fellow musicians. Watch Bill Clinton as he wails a few notes on an alto saxophone. If that is not enough, listen to Barak Obama as he fine tunes his vocal range listening to the echoes of his voice chanting a Motown classic. Locally, check out the Advocates, a band composed of all lawyers with which I have had the distinct pleasure of playing bass once at the Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival. And, if for whatever reason the foregoing is insufficient, just survey a bunch of Milennials who regularly take every opportunity to post their creative works on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media venues.
Drenched with all of this creativity it is quite surprising that workplaces, corporate executives and human resources information systems have largely remained blind to what is all around them. Ask the most seasoned human resources practitioners claiming to be data for the number of musicians, painters, dancers, etc. employed in the establishment and just watch many of them squirm with embarrassment. Instead, of recognizing and exploiting the creative forces around them, corporate North America through deficient human resources systems has largely had a love-hate relationship with creativity and the forums that employees use to channel creative energy..
What is on the love side of the ledger. Well, virtually every corporation now has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Technological shifts have forced the everyday human resources practitioner into the social foray. Now there is explicit understanding that marketing that ignores the digital world is sentenced to failure. Creating and maintain a corporate brand on and through social media is now an explicit imperative of most organizations, Indeed, large corporations now employ folks who job it is to proliferate the corporate presence in the digital space, leaving along the way the desired digital footprint.
At a second dimension to the love side of the equation is the fact “techies” have equipped human resources departments and managers in general with tools to bust employees whose digital foot print is deemed incompatible with existing corporate values. So frequently are stories told of an employee being “busted” for transmitting nude photos on the internet, or fired because of an inappropriate photographic or literary post, somewhere in the digital world. In today’s universe of employer-employee relations, it is easy to bust employees with a penchant for porno flicks and other deemed inappropriate content.
What is on the hate side? Well, corporate executives get busted in the same way as the average employee. Bad press on social media has lasting consequences, as can bad management and other mala fides. The world of social media is an equalizer, as one never can tell what will go viral within a matter of minutes, if not seconds. For human resources managers, the digital world signals a loss of control of information dissemination in a structured way. .
Ok. So far the subject has been one medium through which information, including creative content gets distributed. But what does that have to do with creativity itself? Apart from the fact that the medium itself invokes and prompts creative content generation, creativity without a medium or avenue to distribute content remains personal without much affect. With such creative forces and content around, one cannot help wonder why corporations often do not know about the level and breadth of creative universe operating in their space every day, let along publicizing it. The point is that every day corporate activities can become channels for the creative persons to display their works.
Take elevator music, as an example. Why would not a corporation exploit the music of its employees in this arena? Does Fran Sinatra really need any more royalties, especially when he is dead. Is there an opportunity here to expand the way compensation arrangements are viewed and understood in organizations. Similarly, customers are often put on hold and music pop on in the meantime. Why not incorporate the music of employees? What is so wrong with engaging employees in such a way.?
Law firms are notorious for spending oodles on money on decorative items such as paintings. What is so wrong with decking out corporate offices with the paintings of employees? Why not engage employees in mutually beneficial licensing arrangements. What is so wrong with an employer kick starting the creative career of its employee? Hello, has anyone, including consultants, every charted the cost-benefit of doing so? Can corporate coffers ever serve as a source for venture capital in the creative space? Again, why don’t we see this type of activity in the market place?
The truth is that choosing to exploit employees’ creative works is a sorely unexplored method of employee engagement. Yet, it does not need to be so. There is another Van Gough in the corporate employ waiting patiently for that break. Why not instigate success and lifetime loyalty in support employees creative efforts? that can have compensation arrangements that is beneficial to both employees and employers. It is rather curious that many employers hire consultants and ensure that they protect intellectual property, but