It’s getting increasingly difficult to differentiate. Everybody reads the same Harvard Business Review articles and has access to the same try-before-you-buy cloud tools. But there is one lever of business success that is underutilized, and it’s one that you can improve by investing in what economists call “labor” but what you know simply as “people.”

People are the key to getting your business through the pandemic. Your people pulled off the impossible, adjusted to new requirements, and invented new solutions to problems.* And to do this, they drew on an attribute you didn’t explicitly hire them for: creativity. Not just people in creative roles, but everyone in every role — when encouraged by an employee experience that invites and rewards creativity — can multiply the value of every other business resource or process.

We prove it in our latest report for Forrester clients, “Creativity Feeds The Future Of Work.” There you can see from a survey of more than a thousand workers in the US that those who rate their work environment as more creative, regardless of their role, are not only more likely to be engaged at work but are also more likely to believe that the company is customer obsessed and to be proud to work where they do.

Creative advantage is the next source of competitive advantage, if you turn it on. Leaders that support individual creativity while also investing in organizational creativity will reap the benefits ahead of the rest who believe that creativity is something only required on occasion. Inspire deliberate creativity today in order to spontaneously generate everyday creativity tomorrow. Read the report to learn more, or reach out at @jmcquivey to learn what makes the difference between a high- and low-creativity organization.

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*If your people didn’t do any of this during the pandemic, ask this hard question: Did you make it easy for them to be creative? Or did you try to control their way through the crisis instead of opening up their creative possibilities? If the latter, consider this an opportunity to reconsider your organization’s creative potential.