Creative hobbies lead to better job performance

Looking for ways to become more effective or improve your problem-solving skills at work? According to a new study, it may be worth trading your professional self-help books for a paintbrush or some acting lessons.

There is more to life than work, and for many, cultural and artistic hobbies are a key source of satisfaction away from the office. As it turns out, in addition to helping us to clear our heads and recharge our batteries, creative activities can actually boost our professional performance, according to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. The findings suggest that activities such as taking a painting class or going to see an art exhibit are linked with increased effectiveness in the workplace.

Kevin Eschleman, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, came to this conclusion by analyzing the data from two surveys: one of 341 employees from across the US and the other of 92 active duty US Air Force captains. All of the participants were asked about their involvement in creative activities and on how they spent their downtime. The first group was asked to evaluate their own performance on the job, while the Air Force captains were evaluated by their colleagues. The participants were free to define "creative activities" as they wished, meaning that the activities ranged from writing short stories to playing video games.

The researcher observed that involvement in creative activities, in addition to helping employees recover from stressful situations, was linked to stronger problem-solving skills and an ability to help others in the workplace.

In light of his findings, Eschleman suggests that companies should encourage their employees, without forcing them, to engage in creative activities outside of the office.

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