Research shows Purposeful Play at work, playing certain games for certain reasons at certain times, is linked with energizing people, increasing creative thought, and decreasing stress and burnout in individual workers. Purposeful Play is associated with greater job satisfaction and a better sense of self. Studies show employees learning something presented playfully are more involved and motivated.
Teams find there’s more trust, sense of community and less egoic mindsets when purposeful and attuned play are integrated into their day. Organizations see the benefits of this type of play in the office and allowing for play at work is beneficial.
Simply throwing playful activities and games at them isn’t effective for implementing change. Regular play is enjoyable and fun. Heck-that’s pretty much the definition of play! However, well-meaning HR and C-level execs do their people a disservice, setting up common area activities and structured programs without buy-in from their people.
I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve visited who throw ping-pong tables and free beer at their staff and believe it increases productivity and creativity. All this does is increase the likelihood that ping-pong skills will decline because of alcohol consumption! Plus, playing a game with a winner and loser only appeals to certain personalities. Not everyone finds hitting a plastic ball over a net with little paddles a fun activity.
As a “Play Instigator” and consultant, I facilitate Purposeful Play at work to bring people together, not have them compete! When companies employ purposeful play, they learn through collaboration.
Some companies that tell me they’re already using games chosen by upper management. This is unfortunate, as they have no knowledge of purposeful play dynamics. It’s as big a mistake as asking me to design a rocket ship.
This is what we, in the business of play, call ‘Forced Fun’ or ‘Managed Fun.’ (And yes-it’s an oxymoron!) It’s thrust on employees without their having any say so! How can management really know what the true issues are with their workers if they don’t ask them? Employees ignore their stressors and issues because they don’t want to seem weak to their bosses.
Going forward, giving employees information about purposeful play so they understand the ‘why’ of it, along with more choice is paramount to effectively easing their stress levels.
Well worded inter-office anonymous surveys work wonders, guiding those in charge, usually external consultants, for pairing the perfect game or exercise with employee needs. Asking the right questions in the right way sets up successful, customized programs.
Just because HR and C-Suite execs say employees are their biggest asset, doesn’t mean they have the knowhow to care for corporate culture in an effective manner.
Forcing your staff to have fun doesn’t work. Build better culture and re-attune your employees on a foundation of active listening and seeing. Notice the pain your employees are feeling, which they’re not always aware of; add a healthy serving of Purposeful Play and you have the recipe for successful employee engagement and satisfaction!