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Do Motivational Artworks Work? The Real Art of Motivation

April 14, 2021 4 min read

Do Motivational Artworks Work? The Real Art of Motivation

Researchers have discovered what all of us have intuitively known for decades: office decoration has a big impact on everything from morale to productivity and performance.

An independent research study concluded that working in an office or home office with motivational art on the walls increased employee performance success rate by over 30%. That's a big impact!

Empty walls aren't only boring, they might be counterproductive. So whether you're moving into a new office space or considering how to increase performance in an office, now that you found this amazing Art Store, it might be the time to change what's hanging on the walls. And keep in mind that not all office art is created equal. 

The Impact of Wall Color and Motivational Posters

The proof that empty boring walls are a mood killer is that in a recent study, university researchers found that when workers spent time in an office with empty grey, beige or white walls, they experienced an increased sense of "sadness and depression".

Hanging motivational art canvases doesn't only add color and life to a dull wall, it can also break up the visual monotony of a space. The right motivational art provides a break for the eye (no matter how brief) from the corporate surroundings of desks and cubicles.

Instead of institutional white or beige walls that may stir sadness in employees, offer motivational art that evokes an emotional response, whether that's an inspiring view or an inspiring quote.

In a similar study at the University of Texas, researchers found that when participants were tasked with completing a time-based test in a red room, their performance was, indeed, much better than when they were tested in a white room. Yet participants also reported that they disliked working in the red space.

Higher performance was undercut by a dip in morale and satisfaction. And decorating an office space isn't just about maximizing output, it's also about balancing that need with employee satisfaction and retention. And everybody loves to be inspired, loves to feel part of a team.


The Art of Motivation

Including motivational canvas art in the office signal to employees that you care about their experience at work.

In a survey by the International Association of Professional Art Advisors, more than 80% of employees who worked in offices with art on the walls reported that the art was important to their environment. 

Employees consciously understand that having motivational or inspiring images to look at makes it more enjoyable to spend time at work, but they might not realize that those images can also subtly impact their performance and productivity. Every time we work with a company, we encourage them to ask their employees what they find motivational.

When researchers at the University of Toronto set out to study the subconscious effects that motivational art can have on employee performance, they created a field experiment at a university call center.

First, they divided participants into two groups. They then calculated the number of pledges and the amount of money the workers generated while working with no motivational art on the walls or with a photograph on the wall. The researchers tested two different types of photographs: an achievement-centric image of a person winning a race or a context-specific image of other call center employees in action.

It's important to note that the artwork didn't seem to register on the call center employees. In fact, when they asked about the presence of the photographs in the debriefing session, "they said they were too busy making calls to potential donors to pay attention to a picture," the researchers noted.

Yet the data shows that the artwork had a significant impact on their performance and success rate by over 32%.

Employees in the group with the general achievement imagery raised 60% more money those who worked without any motivational canvas art on the wall. That's an incredible ROI for a minor investment in motivational art.


Maximizing Motivation

A few key takeaways:

  • Don't worry about a small budget

Employees will respond to motivational and inspiring artwork, whether it costs thousands of dollars or less than 100. Don't let a small budget stop you from hanging motivational canvas art in the office. No matter your budget, work with size, rolled or framed art, at Artiful we have what you need.

  • Canvas Art is beautiful, affordable and durable

A vibrant motivational canvas can bring energy to a stagnant staff, don't assume that colorful paint alone is enough to motivate and inspire employees. Break up the color of walls with motivational art that fits the feelings and values you which to communicate to your team.

  • Create context with the Art

To get even more motivation from your team, look for an artwork that's relevant to your staff. That might mean a quote that evokes the start-up mentality of Elon Musk, for instance, if you work at a technology company or at a start-up that's looking to make a big impact on the business world. Or if your organization values core themes such as teamwork, excellence and leadership, find motivational artwork that directly speaks to those sentiments.

  • Think beyond the hallways and lobby

Too often, offices limit their artwork to the lobby, hoping to make a good first impression on visitors and clients. Yet employees are the engine of output for any firm, and strategically placed artwork can lift their performance and their satisfaction.

Hang an inspiring image in the company break room, so that a rest from their desks is actually a rejuvenating experience. Consider hanging a reminder about the importance of teamwork in shared office spaces and the power of leadership in executive offices.

  • Get your people involved.

Research shows that the impact of hanging art on employee performance doesn't diminish over time. So hanging a motivating image today can increase productivity tomorrow - and a month from tomorrow.

Yet while there's no need to rotate art regularly, you might want to engage employees in the process. Hosting a spring-cleaning event where you refresh the office artworks with new canvases is an easy, low-cost way to show workers that you care about their input and want to make sure that they're satisfied with their surroundings.