Workplace wellness isn’t just about physical health; it’s also about having an inspired, engaged and resilient workforce who do great work

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The presence of creativity indicates a healthy life force energy and spirit of an organization. A healthy organization is a resilient one. Unhealthy organizations tend to devalue creativity.

I frequently receive emails from people who are miserable and frustrated because they feel creatively unfulfilled at work, bored by the daily grind, and stressed by the accelerating demands of productivity. When managers discourage new ideas, creativity and enthusiasm is stymied. The result? Disengagement.

You may not be creative in the way creativity is usually defined, but you can create healthy relationships, a winning attitude, and a caring environment that brings out the best in people. Appreciating others, engaging in purposeful conversations and the ability to resolve conflicts are essential ingredients for co-operation and collaboration. Most employees want to feel their work makes a valuable contribution to success of the organization, and healthy workplaces encourage creativity. We need more humanity and fewer algorithms.


Why You Need to Cultivate Your Inner Life (as a Leader)


Research on art, creativity, and wellness

Mental health has become a huge issue in business and society since  Covid-19 and these studies show that if we engage in artistic expression and creativity we can enhance our well-being. Merely looking at beautiful art enhances brain function.

“Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself and connected to the world,” says Christianne Strang, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Alabama Birmingham and the former president of the American Art Therapy Association. Creative expression comes in many forms, including doodling, drawing, dancing, painting, collage, gardening, and cooking.

Studies published by the Journal of Business Research (April 2018)on the inspirational power of arts on creativity, showed that individuals with a higher openness to aesthetic experiences felt more inspired in their daily lives, and in turn, performed better on creativity tasks. When they were given a painting to look at, before being tasked with creative problem solving, they performed better than individuals who were not shown any art.

Studies on the connection between art, healing, and health show that artistic self-expression reduces stress and anxiety and increases in positive emotions. Other studies show an improved focus on positive life experiences, self-worth, and social identity. Arts activities also play a role in developing resilience and mental wellbeing

Studies show Museum visits and art classes boost health and reduce need for medications and doctor’s visits. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has been studying the healing power of art for two decades. In 2018 they partnered with family doctors in Montreal to launch a pilot “museum prescription” program for doctors to prescribe museum visits to help patients ‘escape from their own pain.’

Art as a catalyst for engagement

When I interviewed people for Orchestrating Collaboration at Work, the book I co-authored on arts-based learning for business, the number one reason companies use the arts, is to cultivate employee engagement.

For example,  Bonnie Goren, training manager of a large U.S. news organization says, “Some of the greatest difficulties business leaders face, revolve around the need to instill passion, gather energies toward a common vision, and motivate change in employees. Traditional communication methods between leaders and staff typically do not reach deeply into employees—where passion, vision, and ability to change reside. The arts have the potential to touch the minds and hearts of employees, and truly engage them.”

Art creates a crucible for transforming leaden thinking into the gold of wisdom.

Art is an instrument for meaning-making, sense-making, image-making and creating deeper levels of conversation about what matters. Arts-based learning develops creativity, community and connection. Art forms include storytelling, visual arts and theatre improvisation.

You can easily incorporate the arts in your workplace by asking people for stories about their best customer experience, or best boss, or best team experience. When envisioning the future, ask people to sketch what it looks like to them, and tell a story about the picture.

The arts play vital roles in helping us find our authentic voice, and remembering who we are as human beings. I believe when we are in touch with our humanity, we envision better futures, make wiser decisions, and create sustainable enterprises.

Create meaningful dialogue

Art is an invitation to have a conversation. As such, art is a potent catalyst for dialogue and artful reflection. Dialogue is the single-most important factor underlying the productivity and growth of the knowledge worker (the people who get paid to think). Ram Charan in his essay on Conquering a Culture of Indecision, (HBR 2001) said the root of business is relationships, and that dialogue is the basic unit of work in an organization. Healthy relationships are at the heart of a company.


Can Art Inspire Creativity in the Workplace?


Is creativity included in your workplace wellness plan?

We design highly engaging interactive creativity, innovation and leadership development programs which incorporate arts based learning activities, design thinking,  and the latest social science research. Workshops and trainings are not therapy sessions, and no one is asked to disclose anything they are uncomfortable with, rather they are designed to enhance creativity, connection, and well-being.

 

Ask about customized creativity workshops for your employees

 

Resources:

Creativity & Innovation Skills Development
Developing the Artful Leader

Hosting Strategic Conversations & Arts-based Dialogue
Arts-Based Learning for Business

Case Studies: Using the arts as a catalyst for transformation in business
Creativity and Innovation Coaching

First published Oct 18, 2012, updated Nov 19, 2021