In 2015, Merck Group worked with curiosity experts to develop definitions and launch a curiosity survey among workers in USA. This survey measured not just employee levels of curiosity but also the level of curiosity supported by their employers. For 2016, workers in China and Germany were also surveyed to begin to understand global curiosity levels, not just curiosity levels in USA. The State of Curiosity Report captures the findings from the research in these surveys as well as insights from focus groups & curiosity and innovation experts. Read below some of the highlights from the Merck State of Curiosity Report.
Breaking Curiosity Down
When you talk about Curiosity, it involves recognising, seeking out and even preferring things that are new, unusual and outside of one’s normal experience or comfort zone. Interestingly, Curiosity has been broken down into measurable units, or dimensions:
- inquisitiveness – asking questions and exploring ideas
- creativity in problem solving – a willingness to try new solutions
- openness to other ideas – preferring a variety of experiences and perspectives
- distress tolerance – the ability to meet the unfamiliar with bravery rather than anxiety
These categories help us understand curiosity as a concept and measure levels.
Key Findings :
The survey yielded both Employee (how individual respondents score across the four dimensions) and Employer (how individual respondents score their employer’s support for curiosity across the same dimensions) Indexes.
Among curiosity dimensions, employees ranked lowest on distress tolerance.
Among curiosity dimensions, employees ranked the places they work lowest in support for inquisitiveness and highest in distress tolerance.
Merck’s research revealed a quantifiable measure of curiosity. A key ingredient to curiosity is distress tolerance.
Speaking on curiosity dimensions, Dr. Todd Kashdan said – “We need tools that fully address what makes a person curious. A multidimensional measure can do this.”
In this section, we look at the most curious employees and explore the traits they exhibit. We explore age, motivations, and attributes which all have an impact on curiosity levels.
Key Findings :
More than 80% respondents said that it is a curious person who is most likely to bring an idea to life at work, but 65% employees do not consider themselves to be curious workers. This clearly shows that people don’t consider themselves curious.
There is a relationship between curiosity and job satisfaction. Workers who are “extremely satisfied” with their jobs are most likely to be highly curious. This shows an intent to be curious which is a wonderful thing..
In China and the United States, millennial workers have the largest percentages of HIGH Employee Curiosity Index scores.
In Germany, baby boomers have the largest percentages of HIGH Employee Curiosity Index scores.
To foster curiosity in employees, employers need to create a happy work environment.
Workers with final decision-making influence and lower distress tolerance may tend to prefer safer decisions, promoting an environment less conducive to colleague curiosity and company innovation.
Curious employees bring ideas to life at work. They feel energized and satisfied by the work they do and they tend to have a significant role in the decision-making process.
More than half of highly curious employees work for organizations that actively nurture curiosity on the job; and they may be any age, although younger employees tend to express their curiosity more often.
Speaking on Curious Employees, Tony Vartanian, cofounder of Lucktastic, in a recent interview on CIO.com said, “Hiring for intellectual curiosity means that candidates are not only qualified and thoughtful, but they are also capable of thinking beyond the role they are interviewing for. “
Culture of Ideas
Merck group also examined curiosity at the organisational level, analysing the effects that leadership and company culture can have on workplace curiosity. They dived into the relationship between HIGH curiosity scores and job title. Additionally, they investigated the tactics that organisations can implement in order to foster workplace curiosity.
Key Findings :
Workers in leadership roles, managers or higher, have the highest Curiosity Index scores.
Allowing employees to choose their own means of accomplishing tasks is the most commonly identified curiosity enhancer in all three markets.
Time to explore new ideas at work is one of the top three enhancers of curiosity in the workplace.
Merck group attempted to explore curiosity in 4 industry sectors.
3 industry sectors were based on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Survey respondents were asked which of 25 industries they worked in and, as appropriate, these were combined into Consumer Discretionary (automotive, apparel, entertainment, etc.), Consumer Staples (food and beverage, household and personal products, etc.), and Financials. A 4th sector, Education, was added due to large numbers of respondents working in this field.
Key Findings :
Compared to the overall Employee Curiosity Index score of 60.0, the sectors of Consumer Discretionary and Education had employees with higher curiosity while Consumer Staples and Financials show somewhat lower curiosity levels.
The Employer Curiosity Index score is 56.6 and Consumer Discretionary, Financials, and Education all score higher as workplaces supporting curiosity.