Welcome to the Employee Engagement and the Arts Blog Salon!
Employee engagement: a term Americans for the Arts has been throwing around a lot lately. But what does it mean, and how can you use it in your community? Simply put (according to Forbes), employee engagement is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” According to Deloitte’s 2015 Human Capital Trends Report, this emotional commitment is one of the top challenges facing 87 percent of companies around the world today.
As arts administrators, we’re finely attuned the emotional connections and revelations the arts can usher forth. As we explore best practices in partnering with the business sector, it’s clear that there are direct ways to harness the emotional power of the arts with business employees to increase morale and communication within a company, as well stimulate innovation and embed a practice of daily creativity.
This week, we’ll hear from a mix of arts administrators, artists, entrepreneurs, and business employees on the various ways the arts are being used in the workplace in various communities around the country. As a primer, here’s a list of some of the best ways to engage business employees through the arts, and some of the programs around the country that are utilizing them:
Skills-Based Volunteering: Employees have valuable skills that nonprofit arts organizations need, such as marketing and finance skills, which they can use to increase the capacity of an arts group.
This work is most traditionally done through Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) programs, which operate at many organizations around the country, including the Arts + Business Council of Greater Philadelphia and the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. The BVA program model has been around for a long time and has weathered changes brought about by shifts in the volunteer landscape, and remains a powerful way to harness the professional skills of business employees to the benefit of arts organizations that often lack the capacity to complete certain projects on their own.
Arts-Based Training: Local artists to use their practice to teach innovation, interpersonal skills, public speaking, and more during half-day trainings with departments, teams, or entire companies.
COCAbiz, part of the Center of Creative Arts is St. Louis, provides immersive arts-based training, programming, and consulting for business professionals. These workshop take a variety of forms, including lectures, workshops, and classes that bring thoughtful, social, and curious individuals together in an intelligent and engaging atmosphere, inspiring business professionals to explore new approaches and emerging ideas across industries.
- Corporate Arts Challenge: Encourage employees to show their creative sides and build teamwork with a friendly singing or arts competition. ArtsWave just held is third annual city-wide corporate employee singing challenge, CincySings. The program, which engages employees from companies such as Procter & Gamble, is a great way to boost employee morale, raise money for ArtsWave’s annual campaign, and broaden the ripple effect of the arts in Cincinnati.
- Employee Art Shows: Provide a space for corporate volunteers to showcase their artistic talents to their co-workers and the broader community. The North Texas Business Council for the Arts runs a program called On My Own Time, an annual event during which area companies hold in-house competitions featuring employee art created outside of working hours. Winners in each of the visual art subcategories are selected to move on to a regional exhibit, where the best pieces from participating companies are exhibited at NorthPark Center. In the literary category, winning authors are invited to read their works aloud to an audience at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District.
- Artist Residencies: Embed an artist in a company, and let him or her challenge the ways the company and its employees think, work, and contribute to the community. IDEAS xLab, based in Louisville, Kentucky, works to activate a creative workforce by embedding artist in the corporate workspace. GE’s FirstBuild (a 2015 BCA 10 honoree) was the first Louisville-based company to formally participate in this innovative approach to business. The company has supported the artist-in-residence program by providing work space, equipment, training, and employee assistance to enable artists to create works of art, free-of-charge.
Now that we’ve (hopefully) got your brain spinning with ideas for how you might create similar initiatives in your own communities, I encourage you to check back every day this week to learn more directly from your peers and business leaders around the country, and to be inspired by the amazing work they’re doing together!