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Can Personal Hobbies Benefit Work Skills And Performance?

Sometimes we’ll find ourselves sacrificing our hobbies to take on extra work hours or more convenient shifts, but the truth is we should be encouraging all types of hobbies outside of work. Interesting research by people such as Ciara Kelly at Sheffield University has been looking deeply into how leisure affects employees and their work.

Mark Zuckerberg states that having hobbies is a great way of showing employers that you have both great passions and drive towards likes and goals. Performance consultants and business leaders also claim that having hobbies unrelated to work are key to boosting creative thinking and handling difficult work-related stress and anxieties.

Up until 2019, the workaholic culture was spreading across countries due to America’s large pressure on “hustle now to live a luxurious life later” which led some to believe that the UK became the nation with the most workaholics, it was common to sacrifice weekends, sleep, regular meals, holidays, opportunities, friendships, relationships and more in order to work harder, usually meaning more hours. Many people were falling into the 72-hour workweek nightmare but it was the norm as popular influencers were preaching the benefits of hacking Elon Musks' schedule and toxic productivity was being glorified in the process. Then along came our worldwide COVID crisis which brought our ongoing work lives to a sudden halt. Employees across the globe were stuck indoors left without any work at all, despite the devastating effects happening at the time, many people were able to take this opportunity to question our work life, hobbies, friends and important global matters.

This shift in thought caused us to look deeply at burnout and hustle culture, for some, this was the first break they’d had in months or even years and the overwhelming feelings of finally having time away from the working world shone a bright light on the obsessiveness and toxicity of such a strict working culture. Due to this, people opened up to their hobbies once again, many people tried new things or improved more on current hobbies since there was plenty more time to spend on them. Research tells us that the benefits of all types of hobbies have been overwhelmingly beneficial, with recreational and relaxation activities reducing stress levels, creative hobbies having a knock-on effect on the next day's mood, creative hobbies with others aiding in recovery and physical activities such as sports enhancing overall wellbeing.

Hobbies aid in our performance at work in many ways that can often go unnoticed, they can even aid in increasing our skill levels in certain areas of work, for example, team-based sports have been proven to aid employees in achieving better levels of communication 1 on 1 and within group discussions over time. This can also help employees take a stride towards more leadership based roles since good communication can and will always be key to a successful organisation. Good communication skills come in many forms such as being able to give and receive feedback or being able to hold conversations in both formal and informal settings, team-based sports cover almost all areas of communication since it requires teamwork and an understanding of each other, conversations with coaches, trainers, competition judges etc will likely be held in a more formal manner. Then, team discussion and strategy based conversations will be used with team members practically every session. Over time this will have a noticeable effect on workplace communication with all employees and managers and is a crucial skill when being part of large and small organisations.

Dancing is also a hobby that has proven to have great effects on employees since it stimulates the white matter of the brain, having to think quickly to perform every move precisely and learn new skills or methods of dance. Many employers specifically seek out dancers to hire for their organisation since their quick thinking is largely beneficial when an unexpected issue may arise or when new ideas are needed within a short span of time. Research into the topic also tells us that dancers tend to be better at communicating their thoughts to others and have a less difficult time asking for help which increases performance levels by setting a clear mutual understanding between employees, as well as fewer mistakes being made by asking for help.

When organisations can utilise personal hobbies in the workplace, employees tend to feel far more involved, appreciated and seen by their managers, which boosts performance and productivity levels, this is why employees with an interest in photography are great for any organisation. Your business can easily encourage the hobby of photography by extending the employee's role to also include being in charge of photographing important events or getting photographic and video content for the advertisement and social media team. There are also many personal benefits to photography one of the key factors being it is an effective stress reliever, studies show that just 30 minutes of photography can lower blood pressure, especially in times of major stress.

A common hobby that you may not realise benefits the workplace is music. From singing to playing an instrument to creating their own music, musicians show some of the highest levels of self-discipline as well as great collaborative skills. Seld-discipline has been shown to be a rare but important factor to keeping consistent and high-performance levels, since motivation tends to be temporary, those with good self-discipline excel in their work performance even when lacking high levels of motivation, then even higher levels of performance when combining both self-discipline and motivation. Music is a hobby that takes many hours of practice which shows great dedication in the employee and dedication is an incredibly beneficial trait to have in any employee.

Reading may seem like a simple hobby and some will even consider it a boring one, but those who read fiction, non-fiction, poetry or any kind of book should have a special place in your organisation. In fact, reading boosts your brainpower which improves your mental abilities such as problem-solving, memory and argumentative skills. Alongside this, reading helps better language expertise which is crucial to communication skills or roles such as advertising and marketing. Reading has many calming effects much like yoga which is also a beneficial hobby for inside and outside of the workplace, reading has been shown to aid with mood disorders such as depression, just a few minutes of reading every day can lower stress levels and even improve our self-esteem which has a close connection with workplace performance.

Those performing in creative hobbies outside of work performed up to 30% better in the workplace than those who don’t. Hobbies are a great way for employees to recharge, escape, release stress or just feel happy in general and should always be encouraged.


The Modern Mind Group are emotioneering human performance not engineering it.

As people operations and performance consultants, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 12 years of expertise in people operations and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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