According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report”, creativity and problem solving are listed in the top three skills that employees will need by 2020. Critical problem solving is one of the most important attributes that employers look for in a new hire because no organization is without problems, and every industry will eventually be disrupted.
I deliver a keynote speech called “Turning Your Employees Into Problem Solvers“, which I’ve given to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, scientists, engineers, etc. A company’s biggest line expense is payroll, so why not hire the most creative problem solvers possible? As a small business owner, I’ve always hired creative people who have curiosity and enthusiasm. I like having the trust in my employees that they will find a better, more efficient way of doing something that I haven’t found.
In this highly competitive world, having creative problem solvers working for you means seeing things from another angle. This is why brainstorming with a group of people is better than figuring everything out on your own. There is always something you’ll miss. Creative problem solvers are great at finding new opportunities for your organization.
Most companies say they would like to be more innovative, and innovation starts with creativity. If you hire creative employees you’re already ahead of the game. Amy’s Ice Cream in Texas has one of the most creative hiring practices I’ve seen. Here is their job description:
“Pick up a white paper bag. We ask that you take the bag home and bring back something creative. We would like you to express your artistic and creative side through this bag! Decorate it, make it into an object, write an original song on it, fill it with amazing things…the possibilities are endless! Most importantly, have fun and take your time. Show us who you are through the paper bag. It does not have to be artistically brilliant, just creative.”
This has proven to work well for Amy’s. One of their annual events, the Trick Olympics, was started after her employees began doing tricks with the ice cream like throwing it up in the air and catching it behind their back. Now the Trick Olympics is held every year and donates a portion of the profits to a local charity.
One way to hire creative employees is to give them problems to solve when they come in for their first interview. How they react under pressure and how creative they are at solving problems then will give you a good idea of how they will solve problems when they’re working for you.
Once you have your employees, create an environment for them to be creative and trust that they will find the best solution. If they’re not being micromanaged and have a creative environment, they will usually rise to the occasion and surprise you.