· 2 min read · Features

Creativity is the key to staff development in the recession


The recession has been a tough time for businesses across the UK with HR departments being particularly badly affected as they usually have the unenviable task of arranging redundancies and making cutbacks.

HR professionals now have to manage staff who may be feeling disengaged and insecure about their jobs. To overcome these problems the most successful companies recognise that developing communication between managers and staff is a priority, or they risk losing their best staff; those who will make the difference between success and failure during the more austere times ahead.

Research has shown understanding the strategy is essential for staff to feel confident in their working roles.  This includes blue and white collar workers across a range of industries. Most individuals need to be involved in something greater than themselves; they need to feel part of an organisation.  When they understand the strategic vision of a company they pull in the same direction and feel a valued part of a united team that gets results.  However, it is often very difficult to convey a company’s business strategy in a way that will engage all staff in a memorable way. 

We believe the best way to achieve this is by harnessing creativity. Many in the training sector now agree with this view.  The CIPD for example, produced a factsheet in 2009 emphasising the significance of creative learning that explored "the exciting selection of techniques available to enhance and intensify learners’ experience."  However, the idea of delivering strategic business focused development through creativity is a fairly new idea to most companies.   We know that some traditionalists will question whether such fun, creative development techniques can really deliver the same business results achieved by more traditional methods.  The answer is no, they don’t; our evaluation clearly demonstrates that they deliver better business results.  

That’s because tapping into creativity is the first step to innovation, channelling skills that may have been lying dormant.  For example, as well as helping people to problem solve, increasing the creative expression of an individual increases their ‘intrapreneurialsim’.  This is particularly valuable for staff in larger teams where intrapreneurialism is less evident than in small teams. 

In the west, we are overly focused on left-brain logical thinking.  Psychologists like Tony Buzan have proved that incorporating right-brain creative functions with logical thinking greatly improves the ability to problem solve.  This enables people to think ‘outside the box’ leaving behind the familiar, and taking a step into the unknown, which could in turn, yield great results.  

At the Central School of Speech and Drama and Creative Space Learning we have teamed up to help companies to grow through enhancing creative thinking and improving communications. We use a synthesis of psychological methods with adapted theatrical practice - as those from the film and theatre industries are experts in communication.  These experiential ‘fast’ learning methods mean participants can see the benefit of making small changes straight away.  Immediately they are able to work more cooperatively and achieve greater results.

Our large scale, all staff development events include voice coaching, mime, script writing and body language awareness.   We also deliver programmes to smaller groups where we help individuals develop leadership skills and how to deliver winning presentations. 

The team of professional facilitators include directors, writers, actors and a voice coach who has worked alongside Steven Spielberg to give actors voice training. Think about the impact that sort of training could make to the presentation skills of your staff. Creative training techniques certainly beats sitting down in front of a course facilitator as he or she goes through a PowerPoint presentation!  

Bruce Wooding, head of professional and community development at the Central School of Speech and Drama and Halina Pytlasinska, director of creative space learning