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Workplace Culture

Creating Happiness: Creative Workers Claim to be Happiest at Work

Staffing firm Robert Half finds that creative employees are happier at work than those in more traditional industries, although ‘buttoned up’ industries can be incubators of happiness, too.

Kevin Synoga knows what it is like to work a creative job in a not-so-creative field, but is happy to be in the hard-working environment of his colleagues. Synoga, a graphic designer at a transportation engineering firm, sees happiness at work not solely in creative fields, although surveys show happiness and creativity are often paired together.

A recent survey by staffing firm Robert Half’s found more than 12,000 U.S. and Canadian workers in creative positions reported the highest levels of on-the-job satisfaction and interest in their work, compared to employees in the accounting and finance, administrative, legal and tech fields.

“Creatives like their jobs more because that’s the direction they are taking with their career,” Synoga said. “Other people in finance jobs and similar fields may have fallen into the jobs instead of having a really guided point to what they wanted to do.”

Chicago tech startup Curiosity.com offers creative articles on a variety of topics through multiple platforms and is committed to teaching readers something new every day. Patrick Cerone, brand partnership manager at Curiosity, works with the company’s editorial team to create compelling content so he knows the potential of creatives achieving happiness at work if they feel a connection and appreciation for their work.

“When you’re creating something, you’re putting a lot of your thoughts, ideas and inspiration into the project, so it’s more than just a job,” Cerone said, who also has a background in marketing. “The right job can be a real source of happiness and fulfillment, so the potential is there.”

Company culture is a big part of happiness, too. In a separate survey, The Creative Group, a smaller marketing division of Robert Half, asked 400 U.S. marketing and creative employees to describe their office culture in one word. Creative workers said their culture is friendly, family and diverse.

At Curiosity, Cerone described his work culture as caring, intellectually curious and committed, adding that everyone is supportive of each other.

“Those who have good relationships with their coworkers are 2.5 times more likely to be happy at work,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. Having space for flexible hours, communal working areas and casual dress codes allows for more creativity, compared to the more buttoned-up environment of accounting and finance firms, she added.

But Synoga, who has worked in other corporate environments, argued that’s not always the case for more rigorous, less creative industries, like engineering. Engineers passionate about their work aren’t considered unhappy or dissatisfied with their job, even if the culture is less social and more focused on awards and daily accomplishments.

“Those people are actually more driven to their jobs than creatives could be,” Synoga said, adding that engineers, which could be considered creatives, can be more driven if they have passion.

To merge the divide between strict cultures and creative spaces, Domeyer suggests firms encourage design thinking, a systematic approach to solving complex problems and developing products and services that satisfy customers’ needs, and gives employees access to tools for further professional development.

“Make it easy for employees to collaborate and brainstorm solutions to business challenges by offering communal spaces to meet up and share ideas,” she said.

Domeyer added that instilling work pride by working toward awards and other forms of accomplishments, as Synoga alluded to, is a shared goal to make all employees happy at work and create communal satisfaction.

“Remind staff why your organization is a great place to work,” she said. “Don’t assume they know it.”

Ariel Parrella-Aureli is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.