The benefits of curiosity at the individual, team and company-wide levels have been widely documented by neuroscientists, behavioral psychologists and leadership experts. Why capitalize on Curiosity? According to Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., foremost expert on curiosity and author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, clinical psychologist and George Mason University Scholar, empirically validated benefits include:
- Lower levels of anxiety and greater capacity to manage stress
- Greater analytic ability, problem-solving skills and overall intelligence
- Increased capacity to learn and grow
- Greater willingness to try new things and see things from different perspectives
- Higher levels of professional engagement, performance and satisfaction
- Improved listening and communication skills
- Greater capacity to retain information
- Greater desire and capacity to be empathetic
- More meaningful, mutually rewarding and productive interactions and relationships
Another key benefit of curiosity is that it knows no hierarchy. It is blind to race/ethnicity, education level, geography, belief systems, political parties, etc. Anyone, anywhere, at any level has unlimited potential to be curious. Curiosity creates an entirely level playing field.
What Happens to Companies That Don’t Capitalize on Curiosity?
At the same time, Kashdan and other curiosity experts agree if companies don’t recognize the power of curiosity and are not willing to do the sometimes challenging work necessary to encourage, support and reward it at the individual, team and company-wide level, they significantly limit their individual and collective capacity for innovation and growth – and put their entire company at risk.
Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Merck KGaA has made curiosity a top priority for his company because he believes firmly that “curiosity fuels business development and enables companies like ours to maintain our competitive edge.”
If the Benefits of Curiosity Are Clear, Why Don’t Companies Support It?
Hard evidence of the powerful benefits to companies who capitalize on curiosity has led many, in different industries across the globe to get on the curiosity band wagon and declare it a major priority. Yet, recent studies show while leadership believes they embrace the value of curiosity and actively encourage and support it, employees do not agree.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”e10oR” via=”no” ]If the benefits of curiosity are so clear, why do so many employees feel their company doesn’t value it?[/ctt]
In 2015, Merck KGaA commissioned a team of curiosity experts, including Todd Kashdan and Carl Naughton to develop and implement a survey targeted to 2,606 workers in the United States. The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the state of curiosity in the contemporary American workplace.
In 2016, Merck KGaA and its partners expanded the study to include workers in China and Germany in an effort to understand curiosity levels in the global workplace. The study team created a set of four measurable units for evaluating curiosity levels, and administered the survey and tabulated responses from a collective total of 3,015 workers in all three countries.
The State of Curiosity
One of the most telling findings from their ‘State of Curiosity’ Report is the significant divide between employers’ and employees’ perspectives on how their company’s capitalize on curiosity.
While the majority of employers surveyed report their company encourages and praises curiosity, the majority of employees surveyed don’t feel their employer supports curiosity in the workplace; some employee respondents indicated they feel their employer actually discourages it in practice.
Other noteworthy findings from the Report:
- There is a direct relationship between curiosity and job satisfaction. Workers who are “extremely satisfied” with their jobs are most likely to be highly curious
- Employees feel their curiosity is far higher than their employers’ support for it and, as a result, there is a substantial pool of untapped curiosity capital
- More than 8 in 10 (84%) of employee respondents indicated they think there is a direct correlation between how curious someone is and how much they employ it, and their capacity for creativity and innovation. Yet, only 20 percent of workers reported they feel they use their curiosity at work
- Employees are well aware of their company’s efforts to encourage and support curiosity
Where Does Your Company Stand?
If your company has yet to embrace the incredible power of curiosity at all levels, it is essential that you start now. If your company already recognizes the value of curiosity and has been taking steps to embed it as part of the organization’s DNA for some time now, are you doing it effectively and fully, and reaping all of curiosity’s benefits at the individual employee, team and company-wide level? Do your employees feel this is the case?
In my next article, I’ll talk more about the importance of mindset in creating a curious-positive culture. Curious? Stay tuned!