05 November 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The UK workforce is being creatively stifled because of high pressure and a lack of leadership skills, a new study finds.
Time pressures (41 per cent), unrealistic expectations (33 per cent) and poor workplace culture (25 per cent) have been named as the three biggest preventers of relaxation and creative thinking at work. The results appear in the Thinking On Your Feet study of 1,000 workplaces, produced by the commercial arm of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA Business.
The research found that almost half (41 per cent) of UK workplaces implement practices that have a detrimental effect on employee empowerment and their ability to think creatively.
The study also reveals that 75 per cent of workplaces lack the right environment to enable improvisation to thrive, leaving workers feeling unsupported and stressed.
When quizzed on the things that impact their ability to relax and think on their feet at work, the top five reasons were:
1. Time pressures - 41 per cent;
2. Unrealistic expectations - 33 per cent;
3. Poor workplace culture - 25 per cent;
4. Lack of understanding from a boss or manager - 21 per cent; and
5. Lack of support from colleagues - 21 per cent.
When asked about the negative and positive impact of leadership, more than half (53 per cent) said they disliked being placed under the spotlight in meetings by their manager, yet 38 per cent said they felt empowered and relaxed when trusted to make decisions.
Kate Walker Miles, a tutor at RADA Business who specialises in improvisation and leadership, said: "Building a workplace culture and environment that fosters successful improvisation is crucial to the success of any business - employees should feel confident in their ability to respond to questions and problems in the moment, creatively, and without fear of repercussions from senior staff.
"Discovering that such a high proportion of the UK's workforce doesn't feel empowered and supported in their place of work, could be a result of dizzying pressures and lack of strong leadership, which could have a huge impact on a business' commercial outcomes and employee satisfaction.
"The importance of creating a safe space at work for people to contribute original ideas without fear of judgement is imperative to changing a culture embedded in a fear of getting something wrong. Organising a safe environment to brainstorm and having a clear process for moving innovation forward, are key factors that can be underpinned by a supportive management team - aiding a healthy workplace culture.
She added: "At RADA Business, we believe that the body is one of the most powerful tools we have for moving others, especially when we're in the spotlight and highly visible to others. We bring leaders, managers, and those taking the first steps in their career into our world, working with them in the way we work with actors to enable them to become more flexible, open and adaptable to solve different challenges in a range of scenarios.
"Any fixed or rigid position in the body, tends to link to a corresponding rigidity (mentally and emotionally) and other people notice this. Leadership and solving problems requires constant balancing and rebalancing."