Art is Everywhere. Why not use it to strengthen your workforce?

Posted by Amy Webb, Jul 14, 2014 0 comments

Amy Webb Amy Webb

“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” -Betty Bender

My name is Amy Webb, the newest member of the Americans for the Arts staff and the Director of Arts & Business Council of New York, and I’m so excited to kick off this week’s Unique Business Partnerships blog salon!

My goal in my new position is to increase our New York City presence and enhance connections between the arts and the business communities using a variety of current and developing programs. One of these is the implementation of an employee engagement program for businesses to connect employees with the arts and to help businesses increase recruitment and retention as well as overall employee satisfaction in the workplace. In my last job at Neuberger Berman–an asset management firm–I witnessed a transformation in the workplace once a well-rounded employee engagement program was put in place. There was a buzz around the office and it seemed like, for the first time, everyone was involved in something artistic. There are numerous ways–both big and small–to bring art to your employees, and from my experience they will thank you.

Here are three places to start...

1. Company Art Show:

Hosting a company art show is a fun activity and can be executed in a number of ways. One option is to invite artists to use a common area in your office as their exhibition space. You can also curate your own employee art show. In the last year at Neuberger Berman–my previous employer–we established an art show to highlight our employee’s artistic talent. Staff members were encouraged to submit their own work which was displayed both in a conference room and on the company intranet. This gave colleagues a chance to share their often “hidden” artistic skills with each other.

2. Office Art Collection:

Cover those drab white walls with some color and creativity! Aside from the obvious truth that it’s simply more aesthetically pleasing to be in a space with art on the walls, this will give your company an opportunity to set a mood for the office. Working in an environment that uses art to express its personality is a major benefit for employees. Neuberger Berman has an extensive art collection throughout the 20 plus floors it occupies in NYC. Its founder, Roy Neuberger, was an avid art collector and established the Neuberger Museum in 1974 in Purchase, NY. Some of the great things they did to educate employees about the artwork were their frequent art tours with the office art curator and Q&A sessions with featured artists. Your company may not have a world class art collector like Roy Neuberger, but teaming up with local artists or art organizations is a great way to bring art to your workplace.

3. Employee Band:

Establishing a corporate band is a great way to give your employees a chance to show off their musical talents. Setting aside time and space for them to create and perform music will lift their spirits. It’s not only a networking and bonding opportunity for staffers, it’s also a way to enlist them as entertainment at company parties. In my experience, watching colleagues on stage at our annual functions was a source of pride and enjoyment for all. It is pretty amazing to see what your people can do outside of the cubicle.

There are countless ways to use art as a tool to shake things up in your office. Why not use Improv Theater as a team-building activity? Hold an employee jingle contest? Use an employee’s artwork for your corporate holiday card?

By embracing your employees’ artistic talents, you are creating an environment where they are valued as individuals beyond their role in the company.

Our blog salon on Unique Business Partnerships this week is generously sponsored by Drexel University Online.

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