What Do the Arts Have to Do With Ontario’s Employment Scene?

Culture for Competitiveness, a recent study released by the Ontario Arts Council, found that Ontario business should focus on arts if they want to attract and retain top skilled employees.

The study reports that 65 percent of the 500 skilled workers surveyed said a dynamic arts community was a determining factor when it came to relocating for work. And of 508 businesses surveyed, the same percentage agreed. Interestingly, however, the study also found that of those 508 companies, only one quarter indicated that they were located in thriving arts and cultural city hubs.

Nicole Anderson, president of Business for the Arts, and commissioner for the study told the Globe and Mail she felt there was “clearly a disconnect” on when it came to companies.

The study’s findings, which were presented to the Toronto Board of Trade earlier this summer, are believed to be capable of swaying booming tech sectors in cities such a Kingston and Waterloo, who are actively searching for employees outside of Ontario.

The survey also found that while nearly a quarter of businesses reported donating to arts and cultural associations, less than one-third of the companies involved in the study feel that active participation in arts and cultural events or organizations has any real benefit for their employees or their business as a whole.

Art Matters

Skilled workers held a drastically differing point of view. Thirty-two percent reported they were donors, subscribers or volunteers with arts and cultural associations. And roughly 90 percent of employees surveyed said they attended an arts festival in the last twelve months.

What Culture for Competitiveness Study Means for Employers

While the majority of businesses are already aware of the positive impact involvement in sports-related clubs or organizations can have in their company; many are just beginning to realize the significance of arts involvement. With tangible off-shoots such as increased employee morale and decreased absenteeism employers are looking to find ways to connect with arts and culture communities.

How Businesses Can Get Involved in Arts and Culture

Depending on the size of the business, involvement can include:

  • providing discounted tickets to festivals or arts programs for employees;
  • donating to a community organization when employees volunteer for a set number of hours per week; or
  • have monthly team outings to attend local arts festivals or live performances.

More Than Money

It can seem daunting for small businesses already strapped for cash to consider investing in arts and cultural events, but involvement doesn’t have to mean financial.

  • Consider tapping hidden workforce talent for a choral group.
  • Partner with a local theatre group to stage performances for clients or customers.

Play Together, Stay Together

Studies have also shown the benefit of arts involvement and staff retention. When you consider the strength of bonding by participating in events such as The Second City, it’s easy to see how that translates into a better overall working environment and lower staff turnover.

The demands of a job can be overwhelming, especially during peak performance seasons. To help reduce stress and tension, consider dedicating an unused office or lunchroom corner as an arts and culture space. Staff can stop by when they need a break, returning to their assigned tasks with a fresh perspective and increased energy.

Not sure what to put in your arts and culture office space? Consider the following:

  • Have staff donate a few favourite books, and soon your shelves will be bulging.
  • DVD Loan. Just like a book library, bring in DVDs for interoffice loan among employees.
  • Dry Erase White Board. Never underestimate the value of a game of tic-tac-toe to lighten someone’s day.
  • Music Listening Station. Bring in an iPod or CD player and headphones; staff can take a short break to enjoy and explore music before returning to work.

Creative Staff

And if you’re looking for employees, keep an eye out for candidates with artistic hobbies or experience on their resume. Outside-the-box thinkers can often untangle an issue faster than you ever imagined. Creative candidates also have higher productivity and contribute to a better overall workforce morale.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate arts into your business culture or if you’re an artistic employee looking for a new situation, get in touch with the specialized staffing experts at Employment Professionals Canada today.