Career Development

Is Your Employer Exploiting Your Creativity?

An article by a former ad man who sadly died of cancer recently has been doing the rounds.

He concludes somewhat bitterly that he had been deluding himself throughout his career by thinking that working in advertising was some kind of higher cause. He suggests that the industry as a whole exploits employees’ natural impulse to create as well as a tendency to set themselves high standards and crave praise more than money. Below is a short quote but the whole piece, whilst sobering, is well worth reading.

“It is a universal truth that all artists think they are frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed. We believe by working harder than anyone else we can evade detection. The bean-counters rumbled this centuries ago and have been profitably exploiting this weakness ever since. You don’t have to drive creative folk like most workers. They drive themselves. Just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go.”

What do you think? Are creative people being taken advantage of by employers?

Original source:  Business Insider

4 replies on “Is Your Employer Exploiting Your Creativity?”

Is my employer exploiting my creativity? No.

But I wish they would!

More seriously, I can understand how if my current role did change – either because of me driving that change, or my employer asking me to do more – I would then want to keep building on that. I can imagine not feeling exploited, even if it perhaps appeared that way from the outside.

Where does hard work and self-improvement end, and exploitation start? If the work you’re doing is teaching you new skills or building confidence then there are obvious benefits. If the work is demoralising and exhausting then maybe that fine line has been crossed…?


Good point Paul! I agree, to a large extent. I think creative people want to be challenged and pushed to better themselves, so if given the chance to do good work, they’d be happy.

Actually I was watching Masterchef: The Professionals tonight and was in awe of how hard those people work in the kitchens. They must be hugely motivated to be able to deal with that level of stress!


Exploited? No. I’m just a minion at the end of a magic email portal most of the time:)

Creativity is a word that gets bandied around (much like the term Schizophrenia) without the slightest nod to the dictionary meaning (the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination).

Being creative in a corporate structure is something of an oxymoron 🙂


I know what you mean Elaine, and perhaps I’m guilty of misusing it on this blog too!

In the case of advertising though I suppose there is a requirement to summon new ideas out of thin air quite a lot, so I’d say it fits your definition in that case.


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