National survey commissioned by FCEDA points to “creativity gap” in U.S. workplace

More than one quarter of Americans say they would change jobs, even it meant making less money, in order to be more creative at work

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.--()--At a time when few would dispute the importance of creativity and innovation to the economy and business, new research finds that less than half of Americans think they are tapping their creative capacities on the job. That figure stands in contrast to the majority of American workers (73%) who believe they are instinctively creative, revealing a “creativity gap.”

Further, despite a job market slowly recovering from the recession, more than one quarter of Americans (27%) say they would accept a job that offered less money if they were given the opportunity to be more creative at work. Nearly one third (32%) said they would relocate in order to be part of a more creative community.

The survey, commissioned by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, found that 73 percent of U.S. workers consider themselves creative, but when it comes to creativity in the workplace, just 42 percent said their positions were creative and a comparable 43 percent thought similarly about the companies they work for.

This “creativity gap” – the disparity between the creative resources available and those being employed – appears to be widening. A similar study conducted for the FCEDA in 2007 found that 88 percent of U.S. workers considered themselves creative while nearly two thirds (61%) reported that they worked for a creative company or held a creative position (63%).

The table below summarizes the findings of the two studies:

Creative Tracking   2007 (Telephone)*   2014 (Online)
Are you creative?   88%   73%
Employer value creativity?   75%   58%
In a creative job position?   63%   42%
Work for creative company?   61%   43%
Change to live in creative community   29%   32%
Change jobs to be more creative?   21%   27%

*Methodology note: The 2007 survey was conducted via telephone interviews; the 2014 study was conducted using an online survey. Both were conducted during a similar time of year (August) by Ipsos Public Affairs.


“It is evident that our general sense of creativity seems to have suffered a bit in recent years as the economic landscape of the country has become less certain,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA. “But there is also a positive here. Young, motivated workers still value creativity and are willing to move for jobs and employers that can provide it.”

The most likely respondents to say they’d change jobs for a more creative environment are young workers (39%) and workers making under $50,000 a year (33%). Those most likely to say they’d change where they live for greater creativity in their community are men (36%) and those from the South (33%) and West (36%) regions. As age increases, the likelihood of wanting to make this move decreases.

“The data show that people are unhappy with the decrease in their ability to be creative in the workplace,” said Matthew Cronin, associate professor of management at George Mason University. “This is what employers should take away from the results: Letting people be creative is an incentive. This fits with research showing that people are creative when they can find meaning in their work, and to some extent that implies letting them find it themselves. Employers should give their employees more autonomy, or make it possible for them to not be chained to processes and procedures.”

About the Survey

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority from August 15th to 20th, 2014. For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1,199 employed adults was interviewed online. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire employed adult population of U.S. been polled. The margin of error will be larger within sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's age/sex composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to Census information.

About Fairfax County

Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund the nation’s top-rated school system and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled, well-educated workforce.

The award-winning Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (@FairfaxEBird) promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains marketing offices in seven important global business centers: Bangalore, Boston, Munich, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv.


Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA)
Alan Fogg, 703-790-0600 (o)
571-213-5065 (m)

Release Summary

A national survey commissioned by the Fairfax County (Va.) Economic Development Authority finds that fewer than half of Americans think they are tapping their creative capacities on the job.


Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA)
Alan Fogg, 703-790-0600 (o)
571-213-5065 (m)