[RH] Enhancing employee creativity: Effects of choice, rewards and personality
During the turbulent Deployment Phase of the Fifth Techno-Economic Revolution, no business resource is more valuable than your employees’ creativity.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology if you want to your employees’ creativity, you should consider offering a set of rewards for them to choose from.
The study, led by management experts at Rice University, is the first to systematically examine the effects of reward choice in a field experiment, which was conducted in the context of an organization-wide suggestion program.
Organizations spend a lot of resources and exert a great deal of effort in designing incentive schemes that reward the employees who exhibit creativity at work. The results of this new study show that the effort may be a bit misplaced.
Instead of discovering one reward type that is particularly effective at promoting creativity, what is more effective is to provide the employees with the opportunity to choose from several reward types, when they submit one or more ideas that are among the top 20% most creative ones.
Workers in the study were given a range of options including a financial reward for the individual employee or their team, a self-discretionary reward such as getting priority to select days off, or a donation the company made to a charity selected by the employee. Offering those choices had positive, significant effects on the number of creative ideas employees generated and the creativity level of those ideas.
The researchers arrived at their findings by conducting a quasi-experiment at a company in Taiwan over the course of several months. Then they conducted a second experimental study that included employees from 12 organizations in Taiwan to replicate the first study’s results and compared the results with a control group.
These studies also found that rewards aimed at helping others, such as making a donation to a charity, might be especially powerful. But for less-creative employees, alternative re- wards that benefit those in need might actually lower creativity and should be avoided.
The researchers also found that the choice of rewards fostered creativity by raising the employees’ belief in their ability to be creative. Offering alternative rewards also had a powerful impact on boosting the creativity of employees who earlier had scored high on an assessment of creative personality characteristics.