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All Work and No Play Makes Fewer Opportunities

All Work and No Play Makes Fewer Opportunities

The office is a workplace, so it most likely isn’t a place that is often associated with fun and games. However, different aspects of games have been shown to provide significant benefits when introduced into the professional environment. Today, we’ll explore some of the ways that a little frivolity may benefit your office.

How Games Can Be Used
Just as classrooms devise games to reinforce lessons, the same strategy can be used to help employees engage with and embrace a given task. Research already supports the idea that the happier the worker is, the harder they work. Why not promote that with some entertaining games? Furthermore, a workplace that welcomes some playfulness can present a few other desirable outcomes as well, including an influx of fresh talent, decreased stress levels, boosted motivation, and improved workplace relationships - or in other words, games can make people in an office more enjoyable to be around. As an added bonus, it also promotes the kind of behaviors that will benefit the workplace in its normal operations. These behaviors include the willingness to collaborate and the readiness to create something new.

Reflecting on these factors, it makes sense that many companies today find the time employees invest in playing games to be well worth it.

Understanding ‘Gamification’
This integration of games into the workplace is referred to as gamification. Chances are, you’ve experienced it yourself, or would at least recognize a few examples of it in action. For example, was part of your on-the-job training presented as a computer program, with quizzes that needed to be passed in order for you to progress? Have you ever participated in a team-building exercise that involved a group of people tossing a ball back and forth, the person who possessed the ball sharing a little about themselves?

These are just a few examples of gamification. By leveraging the innate cravings that the human psyche has, like community, self-validation and improvement, or even your employees’ FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), this methodology can improve a team’s productivity and boost morale and satisfaction on an individual level.

Some Basic Workplace Games to Start With
If you want to try to utilize gamification tactics in your office to reap some of its benefits, you will first need to determine what it is you intend to accomplish through introducing a game element. Do you mean to boost communication among the members of your different departments? Are you trying to encourage them to work more as a team? Or is your goal to simply allow your staff to blow off some steam before it negatively affects their performance?

While this may sound like you’re putting too much thought into playtime, it is actually an important consideration. Much like the “joke” that a game like Monopoly can ruin friendships, you want to be sure that your chosen activity is conducive to accomplishing your goal, and won’t actually have the opposite effect. If you’re trying to inspire a team to work together, maybe playing a game of basketball between departments or sending each department on a scavenger hunt around the office would be a wiser, more effective strategy. Alternatively, if you are looking to inspire some interpersonal competition, maybe a more competitive activity would be a better option.

Games That Help Company Culture
Here are a few basic games meant to boost spirits and coworker understanding in the office to get you started:

  • Two Truths and a Lie - This simple game is summed up in the title. Each participant writes three facts about themselves on a slip of paper, two of which are true and one being false. The rest of the group guesses who wrote these facts, and which of them is the lie.
  • Secret Mission of the Day - In Secret Mission of the Day, each employee receives a message detailing their task for that day first thing in the morning. These tasks may be to slip a particular word into conversation or some other benign prank, while others may receive a warning and be told to identify the person carrying out a particular task. For instance, a group of employees may each be given an uncommon word (like woebegone or logomachy) and be told to use it in a meeting five times, the winner being the one who isn’t called out on their use of the word.
  • Treasure Hunt - While this will take a considerably larger amount of forethought and planning, this activity can be a great way to get your employees thinking, working together, and sharing a positive experience. You can even reap some bonus team building benefits by gathering some of the creative types in your office to create the clues that their coworkers will need to follow. Hiding objects, devising riddles, and other challenges will make the treasure hunt ultimately more challenging, and ideally, more fun.

Gamification Can Help Sales
Utilizing games can help keep salespeople competitive. By setting quotas and a point system, you can have your sales team work towards earning rewards. You can establish an expectation of a certain quantity in sales each week or month, and then have a few rewards (gift cards, bonuses, or free lunches, for example) for the highest performers.

Tracking sales on a whiteboard or better yet, a flat-screen on the wall can help keep everyone’s eye on the prize. Longer term or more aggressively set goals could even lead to comparatively larger prizes; if a salesperson doubles their quota one month, they could be rewarded a cruise. You win, because they out performed and made the company more revenue, and they win, because they get to celebrate it a few miles offshore on the company’s dime.

Gamification Can Help Support or Customer Service
Similarly, a little friendly competition can help improve customer support. This can be a little more complicated, as you’ll need to come up with the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) of your staff to determine exactly what goals you are setting for the game, but it’s a great way to get everyone working towards the same goal. For example, if your goal is to get a customer answered and off the phone within three minutes, you could reward a point for each case where that happens. Then determine an average number of points a single employee should earn, and offer prizes and kudos when that is exceeded. Other examples might be having projects come in under budget, collecting shining reviews from customers, or exceeding other expectations. When you introduce fair and friendly competition in certain situations, it can lead to more getting done the way you’ve always intended it to.

What other team building activities and games can you think of to help bring an office together? Share them with us in the comments!

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