You need to woo talent creatively, not just financially

When you got a job 50 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to stay with that company for your entire career, gradually moving up the corporate ladder. But these days, people change jobs every two years; even in some of today’s most successful companies.

I’ve talked with hundreds of talented job applicants over the past five years as my company grows and I’m always surprised by how many people are searching for more creativity in their careers.

No matter how many perks and benefits a company piles on, something’s still missing. Employees want something more. People are craving autonomy, creativity, and a compelling purpose in their work. Organizations need to support these deeper motivations if they want to attract and retain top talent.

What changed?

The workplace has changed dramatically in recent years. Advancements in social collaboration and automation tools have enabled self-organization and more project-based work among teams.

Broad adoption of these technologies is helping high performing companies automate process-driven work and encourage collaboration and autonomy. “Yet, many organizations continue to operate according to industrial-age models that are 100 years old or more, weighed down by legacy practices, systems, and behaviors,” according to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Report. These antiquated models “must be confronted and discarded before true change takes hold.”

The problem may be as simple as having too much structure. Organizations have created strict processes and guidelines around everything they do. In their quest to perfect efficiencies, corporate leaders have reduced creative work down to an assembly line of simple, repeatable, and boring procedural tasks.

Creative talent has responded accordingly. The gig economy has paved the way for creative individuals to provide specialized services to organizations without getting stuck in the mire of bureaucracy.

“The creative economy is driven by the logic that seeks to fully harness — and no longer waste — human resources and talent,” writes Richard Florida, in Rise of the Creative Class. And it’s fundamentally changed what motivates employees in the modern workplace.

How to promote creativity at work

Most organizations give their employees tasks. There’s a defined process to follow; a repeatable task list to ensure both quality and efficiency at every level. But these tasks may as well be handcuffs to creative talent.

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