I’ve shared office space with opera singers, sculptors, concert pianists, jewellery designers and a man fluent in seven languages, including Mandarin. None of the jobs I was in at the time was ‘creative’, and these specific skills may have been hard – languages aside – to call upon in company service, but recognizing and supporting ‘creativity’ in the workplace does seem to be a neglected issue. I first got reminded how much I dislike the work-oriented tendency to define ‘creativity’ as ‘problem-solving’ (with a heavy undertone of ‘cost saving’) a few weeks back by a post at one of our favourite blogs: HR Bartender.

Calling on a dictionary for moral support, Sharlyn Lauby reminded her readers that innovation is the introduction of a new idea, method etc., while creativity is the ability to produce through imaginative skills. Innovation may sometimes be brave, but in chronological terms innovation is the egg to creativity’s chicken. While the sceptics can offer their own ‘curate’ jokes at this point, let’s be clear: eggs don’t lay themselves. And in this particular metaphorical farmyard, you hire the chickens. (Whether you find “Q: Who came first? – A: The recruitment consultant” funny or not is your own affair, ok?)

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It seems logical to suggest that an organisation whose appeal to its customer base is largely built around the personal style of its staff, and their ability to project a compelling and relevant sense of personality, should do whatever it can to keep them engaged and emphasise their individuality. In the case of an old friend, closely involved in community radio, it seems particularly relevant: what is a DJ or a radio presenter if not a very real case of human capital? So you would think that there would be an obvious, clear link between organisational brand (the character of the station as its listeners perceive it), employer brand (the behaviour of the station towards its DJs to keep them committed and passionate about their individual programmes), and employee engagement. Oddly, however, it seems one community radio station offers a potential case study in how to turn off if not the audience (though that may remain to be seen) then its own presenters.

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