How to manage a creative workforce

by Lauren Acurantes09 Nov 2016
Creativity in the workplace, regardless of what industry you’re in, is being encouraged by most experts as it yields better employee engagement, higher customer satisfaction, and encourages innovation.

The videogame industry is especially adept at handling creative individuals and Iris Tee, HR director at Ubisoft Singapore, noted that “creativity is the lifeblood of [their] business”.

“Keeping an open mind and a lot of active listening are essential when managing creative individuals and teams,” she said.

“They are creative because of their abilities to see things differently and in ways not obvious to others. One shouldn't be surprised when they challenge you on conventional norms and established practices,” she added.

She also added that highly creative workers don’t respond well to micromanagement so it’s important to engage them early on to align goals, priorities, and expected outcomes.

“Then give them the creative freedom to decide the best way to achieve the agreed outcomes,” she said.

When asked about finding a balance between the creative and the more corporate side of the industry, particularly when it comes to rewards and recognition, she said she personally believes that neither are mutually exclusive and are not at odds with each other.

“Our creative individuals care deeply about their work, the people they work with and how they contribute to success,” she said.

Nevertheless, she said Ubisoft Singapore strives to encourage creativity in every job function with their reward and recognition system.

“To strike a balance, HR's role is to ensure a fair process is in place to align the reward and recognition systems with the corporate mission, shared values and long term business needs,” she said.

“We also need to ensure that our principles are well understood by employees and consistently applied across the company.”

An open atmosphere
The physical environment also plays a big part in engaging a creative workforce, she said.

At Ubisoft, for example, Tee said employees work best in “an open, trusting, fun, and friendly atmosphere”.

“As a reflection of that belief, we have an open concept office equipped with recreational facilities such as a pantry filled with snacks and drinks, ping-pong and pool tables, game corners as well as dedicated areas for team meetings and celebrations,” she said.

She noted, however, that the physical environment will only work well if it is complemented with appropriate work processes and people practices.

Dress codes, flexible work arrangements, and performance feedback need to be addressed as well, she said.

“Dress code at our studio is casual for everyone, every day, [and] employees can choose to start their day flexibly within the core hours if they have a personal need to do so under the Flex-Time policy,” she said. 

“Work wise, our performance feedback approach focuses on behaviours and attitudes that matter and we trust our employees to behave responsibly for the rest. For example, no one will frown on you if you decide to play a game of table tennis at 3pm.” 

Related stories:

Why you should treat your employees like your customers    

How can ‘creative’ HR practices benefit the service sector?

Three ways to encourage innovation

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