Three reasons you should let your employees play games
Research suggests regular gamers are more positive, happier and more encouraging when communicating with others
Guest blogger Mark Hosgood
Fostering a company culture that employees truly appreciate and benefit from can be difficult at the best of times. When you’re trying to find a way to marry employee satisfaction with your company’s wider business objectives, thinking outside the box might be the only way to bring tangible results.
Introducing gaming to the workplace could be a unique way to improve your organisation, its people and its bottom line. Here are three reasons why you should let your employees play games during the work day.
Gaming can encourage creativity and innovation
As Ryan Gibson, the CEO and co-founder of Napkin Labs, put it, “Play is a catalyst of innovation”. At his fan crowdsourcing company, which has since been acquired by Chaordix, encouraging employees to “let our creativity run wild” through fun games, caricatures and jokes often led to breakthrough ideas.
Creative experimentation is the root of innovation. Ensuring there’s a culture of play in the workplace – where there is openness and acceptance of all ideas, however wild – means employees feel more comfortable taking risks and experimenting.
Playing games – of any sort – can also help stimulate the imagination.
When employees play games, they engage the creative side of their brain far more than through meetings, brainstorms or idea generation sessions. While distracted by the objective of their game, employees are free to make mistakes, start over and take risks without the psychological barrier that censors their thoughts and ideas.
This new freedom can seamlessly transfer into the workplace, where they can now develop novel ideas, think more innovatively and find more creative solutions to problems.
Gaming can improve productivity
If you’re wary of allowing employees “playtime” that takes them away from billable work, research has shown that workers who play games are actually more productive.
A study by the University of Central Florida concluded that “playing a casual video game, even briefly, can restore individuals’ affective [or emotional] abilities [… and] restore mood”. Participants that played a video game in order to relax felt more refreshed and ready to get back to work than participants that used a relaxation exercise over the same period of time.
Kansas State University also found that “a smartphone micro-break can be beneficial for both the employee and the organisation”.
The study monitored the smartphone usage behaviour of 72 full-time workers, and found they spent only 22 minutes of an 8-hour day on their phones. Participants interacted with family and friends, played a short game or used social media for a couple of minutes at a time. The crucial one or two minute break allowed the employees to come back refreshed and ready to tackle the demands of the workplace.
With gamers of all ages increasingly playing games on their smartphones, you could be finding that employees are increasingly turning to short games to help them come bounding back into work.
Gaming can improve morale and encourage employee bonding
Playing games can also be a way to improve employee morale and bonding. Unhindered by the professionalism that surrounds much of their work day, a gaming session with colleagues can allow deeper bonding, improved spirits and lowered stress levels.
Shared experiences, a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of cooperation all help create deeper relationships that can be crucial for workplace happiness.
Whether your company is a rapidly evolving start-up or a decades-old corporation, it’s important to work actively at keeping employees engaged and motivated. Letting your employees play games can encourage bigger and better ideas and garner the productivity and affectionate cooperation needed to make these ideas a success.
A trial run incorporating gaming into the workplace could have surprising results that see both employee happiness and company revenue skyrocket.
Mark Hosgood is online manager for Dixons Carphone