Creative Independent Agency Census Top 100 Agencies

For creatives, a little praise better than a raise

Adobe Workfront


Promoted article

October 18, 2017 | 6 min read

Sponsored by:

What's this?

Sponsored content is created for and in partnership with an advertiser and produced by the Drum Studios team.

Find out more

When it comes to motivation, creatives can be a conundrum.


For creatives, a little praise better than a raise

We all know they are, as a group, inherently different from their peers in, say, accounting or sales. They aren’t content to work on mundane tasks; they want to flex their creative muscles and use their wide array of talents to really contribute to the success of their employer.

We especially seem to recognise that we need that life-giving but fragile thing they have called creativity, so we end up tiptoeing around it, for fear of accidentally shattering it with the wrong motivational technique. We agonise over how to motivate our creatives and grow their creativity. Surely they must be motivated to excel by something… but what?

Do you simply throw perks and alternate floor plans at your creatives? Or do you go the old-school route, cranking up the hovering and criticism?

With so many managers facing the challenge of finding ways to motivate their teams, Workfront surveyed 1,000 UK creative workers1 to find out what motivates them to do their best work. Whether you hail from the perks camp or the old school, the survey’s findings are eye-opening.

The number-one motivator: praise

The number-one motivator reported in the survey? Praise from a boss or manager. In fact, UK creative workers ranked this motivator higher than career growth, self-satisfaction and even salary.

When asked, “What influences you to excel at work the most?”, 37% of respondents said, “Praise from a boss or manager.”

Praise is the number-one motivator for creative workers, topping traditional incentives such as salary, career growth and award nominations.

Everyone loves a compliment, but this statistic illustrates the idea that praise is an extremely powerful tool managers can use as they lead creative workers. Conversely, almost the same number of respondents (36%) reported that criticism from a boss or manager is the most demotivating influence at work.

In other words, adopting a leadership style that emphasises praise and recognition for work well done is far more powerful in growing productivity than the perks we so often turn to. Criticism, on the other hand, will only produce the opposite effect.

So how should creative managers deal with underperforming workers?

Jada Balster, director of marketing, EMEA at Workfront, explains: “Obviously, performance-based conversations should continue to be a part of creative management. But more training on how to deliver constructive criticism paired with praise or comments on creative worker strengths could be in order.”

Flexibility = increased motivation

The Workfront survey also reveals that the trend of flexible working hours isn’t just a fad – it’s a major motivator for creative workers.

The survey asked: “Which of these perks motivate you to be a better employee the most?” Just over half (52%) of respondents said “flexi hours”. In fact, this motivator beat popular perks such as bonus packages, unlimited paid time off, and even extras like gym memberships and stock options.

Flexi hours are the strongest motivator for creative workers, proving more motivational than financial perks.

But that’s not all. More findings from the survey show that giving employees flexibility over when and where they work will lead to more successful creatives:

  • 36% are most productive in the late morning, or 10 a.m. – 11:59 a.m
  • Respondents are divided when it comes to favouring an open-floor office (32%) or individual work offices (29%)
  • When it comes to out-of-office locations, 34% are most productive at home, while 20% say a café, shop or eatery is the ideal spot
  • 95% of creative workers agree that natural light is “very or quite important” to boosting productivity

Clearly, when given flexibility over working hours, location, set-up and surroundings, creative workers are more motivated, and therefore more likely, to perform at their best.

Tools for managing creative workers

With these findings in hand, it’s clear that giving praise and offering flexibility at work are key elements managers need to adopt if they want to motivate creative workers in the industry today.

But how is a manager to do that?

Technology is making it easier to not only get more work done, but for managers to provide these motivating factors.

Balster explains: “The powerful effect of flexible working on motivation should also make managers reconsider how they can adjust their technology and policies to better support flexible working arrangements with their team members. For example, cloud-based work management and collaboration tools can make it possible for team members to work anywhere, anytime, without losing the ability to access important information and communicate with co-workers.”

With a cloud-based work management software programme, managers can easily assign and track tasks and then offer feedback and praise in real time using comments, messages and even proofing tools.

This kind of solution also makes it extremely easy for teams to work at different locations and on different schedules, without inhibiting collaboration. No matter when or where a team member works, managing work is easy with organised files and cohesive communication.

With a work automation solution like Workfront, managers will find that leading and motivating creative workers is easy. Visit Workfront to learn more.

Jada Balster, Marketing Director EMEA, Workfront.

Creative Independent Agency Census Top 100 Agencies

Content by The Drum Network member:

Adobe Workfront

Work management. Built for the enterprise. Connect, collaborate, and execute on complex workflows - from anywhere.

Find out more

More from Creative

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +