There are two key decision-makers we encounter on a daily basis: those ready to make things happen and those who prefer to watch things happen. Embracing the value of fun, the power of “play” and the joy of laughter at work are for those ready to make it happen.
The sheer magic of “playing” together creates a feeling of community in which employees and employers are truly connected, where they operate more effectively with each other and celebrate their achievements – both individually and as a group – to positively impact productivity. The play’s the thing that unites co-workers; a corporate team building party is just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. Gone are the days when working for a paycheque was enough motivation to keep us going back each day and keep productivity levels up.

Raising Fun Levels
When “play” is encouraged and integrated within the work community, it is received as permission for a timeout to regenerate and rebuild energy and as motivation to complete the next big task. “Play” helps us to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication and foster employee relationships... all created through fun and laughter. “Play” achieves the goal of bringing people together and allowing them to interact in an extremely unique experience where the atmosphere at work becomes much more appealing and people begin to see, as well as appreciate, qualities in colleagues they had never witnessed before. If you are trying to raise employee motivation and job satisfaction, nothing else compares!

Incorporating Play at Work... “What Do I Do?”
Many HR departments have recognized strength in the new attitude toward a “play at work” strategy and have fully integrated it into their best practices model. The outdated incentive programs like a three-week vacation for every 11-and-a-half months of work, or coffee breaks or gym time before or after work hours are being replaced by alternating “work tasks” with “play tasks” on a daily or at least weekly basis. This strategy is quite fundamental and will pay huge dividends, whether you’re responsible for training and development, staff retreats, employee engagement workshops, team-building sessions or any other organizational and/or employee-wellness programs. It gives employees the sense of reward immediately following the task.

The first step to best address incorporating play at work is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we all need to have more fun at work. Make it an annual or biannual commitment to check in as a team, to continue to remain open to “play,” to break down any social or professional barriers and to remember to remain flexible. As an HR professional, focus on enhancing the value of your department’s services by integrating this attitude into your best practices model now and in the future. The work days will be more meaningful and your employees will enjoy the total work experience.

Over the past few years, it has been quite encouraging to see more and more companies want to rediscover the joy of play at work. They believe in the value of “play” as a solution to problems. While there may be different objectives why, there are several common threads.

We can streamline these common threads to fit nicely into a workplace strategy where, in your planning meetings, you will be better able to capture your true intent, gain clarity and then clearly communicate one or more of the following intentions:

  • Create a productive workplace environment
  • Keep valued employees
  • Opportunities for staff training & development
  • Employee communication & participation
  • Meaningful staff recognition & rewards
  • Rejuvenate teamwork in the workplace

It is extremely important to perform due diligence. Rediscovering the joy of “play” at work is a whole new attitude and a perfect vehicle for affecting positive change within your work environment. Respect that if you’re going to take this message to your staff, ultimately it starts with you. You need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards “play.” So look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me:

  • I invite playfulness into the routine work day
  • I empower people to stretch their imaginations through creative play
  • The capacity exists within me to maintain play’s momentum
  • I play, and feel good about playing
  • I don’t need any special equipment – heck, I don’t even have to be in shape

There’s been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows that we see on television. How complex does this have to be? My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process, yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness and imagination. Most significantly, rediscovering the joy of “play” at work should never compromise others’ concerns for physical and emotional safety. A safe and playful workshop experience is one that is carried out with a responsibility to the well-being of all. After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about a smile on everyone’s face.

It’s amazing how people will look past professional differences, communication conflicts, social status and personality style differences when they are enjoying themselves at work. And your company will prosper.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Manolson is the creator and facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences. He is an expert in Edmonton Team Building and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play.