While companies have focused on building an optimal office environment to get the best out of their employees, there may be another way to boost workplace creativity. Research conducted by Professor Xu Huang from the School of Business of Hong Kong Baptist University suggests that a key to taking employee creativity to the next level is investing in their relationships at home.
The study looked at how satisfying marriages impact an employee’s "psychological resources" at work - namely their ability to be creative and innovate useful solutions - and showed that:
- Employees satisfied with their marriages experience positive spillover of psychological resources into their work
- When an employee’s spouse is also happy, this spillover effect is more pronounced and powerfully enriches workplace creativity
- This boost applies only to less creative employees, as highly creative individuals rely less on resources from a good marriage
- Marriages with dissatisfied spouses and less intimacy consume employees’ psychological resources. This indicates that partners can exert strong influence over an employee’s work performance and that a high-quality marriage is conducive to creativity at work.
As personal relationships can constitute a source of workplace creativity, it is important to consider them when discussing employee welfare. Providing family-friendly policies, especially marriage-related measures, can have a profound impact on organizations. Here are ways to support your employee’s relationships and improve their creativity at the office:
- See family-friendly policies as investments in innovation - The study showed satisfaction with marriage is helpful in facilitating workplace creativity for less-creative employees. Therefore providing family-friendly policies to help employees’ marriages not only benefits individuals, but also helps the innovative capabilities of organizations. Whether this is anniversary leave or relationship-counseling services, there is a range of support that may bring substantial benefits.
- Observe spousal needs in work-life balance initiatives - The study offers new insight into managerial interventions designed for better work–family balance. The study suggests managers may need to take into account the feelings of the focal employees’ spouse when developing work–family balance practices. In this scenario, developing a system for mutual communication and feedback can be critical.
- Prioritize relationships of less creative employees - Scholars have previously explored strategies that maximize creativity of employees with high creative potential, leaving practices that cultivate creativity among less-creative employees unexplored. Psychological resources from a satisfying marriage enhance workplace creativity for less-creative employees, but not employees who are already highly creative. Such employees are naturally predisposed to actively engaging in creative activities, meaning they are in less need of relying on psychological resources from good marriages. Less-creative employees tend to need these resources more to perform.
More information is available at https://bus.hkbu.edu.hk.
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