What is one of the most underrated skills an employee can have to help out your business? Is it having accounting skills? How about janitorial prowess? In my opinion, backed by Forbes who claims “creativity is essential to success”, the most underrated skill to have at the office is one that involves creativity. More specifically I’m referring to graphic design.

Think about it. If all of your staff learned how to create nice looking emails, headers for their personal social media accounts, thank you cards, brochures for a project they are promoting, or knew how to edit their own photos before posting them to Twitter or the website, your company would save a lot of time and money. Employees wouldn’t have to wait for work to come back from the in-house or outsourced designer for petty jobs and could keep rolling with their projects. Individual employees’ and project’s social media pages would look more enticing and professional to customers rather than amateurish and suspect (the latter assuming they designed these elements themselves WITHOUT training).

But who has the time and money to purchase graphic design software for ALL of their employees, and provide the training as well? Actually, it’s free – apart from the wages you’ll be paying them while they’re watching tutorials, unless they watch the tutorials at home. That’s right – even the software is free. You just have to get free software that has a proven track record and is backed by a community of geeks who already know how to use it. So where do you find that software?

It’s called GIMP and you can download it for free at GIMP.org. No, I am not being paid to tell you about this software. I just happened to use it myself and know of the entire community that supports it. It’s been around since 1996 (read GIMP history here) and is now a well-functioning and viable graphic design product that is beginning to rival Photoshop. You can do everything from simple photo editing to illustration in the program, although it doesn’t offer vector-based illustration (meaning you won’t be able to scale your illustrations and keep the quality). However, that is a feature that only expert designers can really take advantage of, and Photoshop doesn’t offer that feature either.

The beautiful thing about GIMP is that it has many forums and YouTube tutorials to help you learn how to use it, all without charging you a dime. That’s free, unlimited support from a variety of sources. So where are these resources? Here is a short list of where you can go to get GIMP training:

GIMPUsers.com

YouTube.com/DaviesMediaDesign

GIMP.org/tutorials

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that all of your employees learn how to brand your company and become the marketing department. I’m simply saying that if each employee that comes into contact with your customers in one way or another learns how to do the smaller graphic design tasks, you can allow your marketing department and budget to focus its efforts on larger, more important projects. It will also enable your employees to unleash some of that pent-up creative energy they are sure to have, which may in turn make them more productive in their other remedial tasks. Give it a shot – I mean why not? It literally costs you nothing.

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