Money & Business

Study: Your Knitting Hobby May Improve Your Job Performance

By / Apr 22, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new study by San Francisco State University psychologists shows the positive impact that creative hobbies can have on workers’ productivity and on-the-job performance. Which raises the question: Is it finally time to sign up for piano lessons?

Want to be more productive on the job? Get creative when you’re not at work.

According to a new study by psychologists at San Francisco State University, pursuing a creative hobby outside of work boosted employees’ job performance.

We found that in general, the more you engage in creative activities, the better you’ll do.

“We found that in general, the more you engage in creative activities, the better you’ll do,” Kevin Eschleman, the study’s lead author, told NPR.

To determine how job performance is affected by creative pursuits—which for the purposes of the study included a range of activities like playing sports, watching TV, cooking, and playing video games—researchers conducted two studies.

In the first, about 350 employees, in a variety of jobs, were asked to self-report how often they engaged in creative activities outside of work and to rate their own job performance.

In the second study, researchers polled about 90 active-duty U.S. Air Force captains about their creative outlets but asked their coworkers and subordinates to rate the captains’ job performance.

Taking into account other variables, such as personality, results of both studies indicated that creative hobbies not only helped the participants recover from the demands of their jobs but also boosted their problem-solving skills and willingness to help others at work.

While it’s unclear from the research what it is about pursuing creative activities outside of work that leads to better job performance, Eschelman offered NPR his theory: “Creative activities really can provide you the opportunity to learn something new about yourself.”

Eschelman and his coauthors suggested that employers encourage employees’ creativity by allowing them to bring it into the office. Organize a cake-baking contest, for example, or let employees decorate their office space with personal artwork.

“A lot of organizations carve time out where they talk about physical heath and exercise and eating habits, but they can also include in that a discussion of mental health and the importance of recovery and creative activity,” Eschleman said in a statement.

What’s your creative outlet? Does it help boost your work performance? Share your experience in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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