Mention the word “creativity” to most people, and you’ll likely conjure up mental images of painting, drawing, and other stereotypically “creative” pursuits. But in a technology context, “creativity” often means something completely different—a particularly elegant coding solution, for example, or a UX that ingeniously guides users through an app or service.
Technologists crave the chance to show off their creative abilities at work, according to Dice’s 2020 edition of the Salary Report, which features data collected from 12,800 technologists across the country. Creativity is tied strongly with career satisfaction; those less satisfied with their career and/or job tend to desire more opportunities to exhibit their creativity.
Out of those who anticipated changing employers within the next year, some 26 percent reported wanting more opportunity to express their creativity. That outpaced “anticipate losing current position” (at 20 percent) and shorter commute (19 percent), which are often highlighted as key reasons why technologists jump jobs. In other words, this is a big deal.
Adding Creativity to Your Workflow
Fortunately, most companies want creative solutions; that kind of “out of the box” thinking (to use a cliché) is how you get advances such as cloud computing and the iPhone. As a technologist, that opens the door to negotiating for things that will boost your creativity in the context of your job. For example:
Propose Special Projects
Similar to Google’s famous “20 percent time,” in which Google employees are allowed to use a fifth of their workweek to pursue interesting projects that might not immediately benefit the business. Suggest to your manager that you can carve out some time for innovative pursuits.
Over the past few years, companies have turned to hackathons as both a morale-boosting and a recruiting tool. If you truly want to unleash your team’s creativity (as well as your own), propose a hackathon around a subject.
Meetups and Talks
Attend local meetups with fellow technologists; as you spitball ideas and projects, your discussions may eventually veer into creative topics. In addition, you can propose that your company invite creative people into the office to give lectures or talks; in turn, that might prove inspiring.
Tackle Projects in an Independent Way
Ask your manager to allow you to tackle projects in different, more creative ways. Just because your company always follows the same procedures and workflows doesn’t mean you can’t innovate on how things are done.