At the Go Game, we dedicate our days to very important matters. We ask questions, significant questions. We delve into research about cutting-edge advances in business, science and technology. We strive to understand and overcome the great challenges of our time and bring you the answers. Time after time, our research comes back to one thing – the pure potential power of one team coming together for the common purpose of building the highest spaghetti tower in the world. Simply put, play changes everything.
If you read our blog post, it is already old news to you that many companies are facing abysmally low employee satisfaction. On average, only 32-33% of employees feel engaged at work, and according to the Harvard Business Review, in 2016, “21% of Millennial workers had left their job in the last year to do something else.”
So what’s going on? With numbers like these, employers are seeking to understand what motivates workers and are exploring new solutions to keep them around.
Top researchers have found that in the end, it all comes down to workplace culture. The Society for Human Resource Management’s latest Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report ranks “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as more important than compensation. Company culture can determine an employee’s motivation and retention above his or her actual paycheck!
Harvard Business School Management Professor Amy Edmondson agrees. She asserts that when a lack of Psychological Safety leads to poor communication and disengagement, productivity and innovation suffer. These negative norms make workers less likely to take potentially beneficial risks or participate actively in meetings and collaborative projects.
Modern employees genuinely want to be engaged at work. So how can employers create motivating, inclusive environments? The results are remarkable, and the answer is simple: PLAY!
Want us to prove it? Sure thing.
Jane McGonigal is a game designer and author of The New York Times bestseller, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. She set out to discover WHY interactive games make people feel like they can participate and achieve in ways they may feel otherwise limited.
McGonigal outlined these four qualities that games bring out in us:
Urgent optimism. This is the immediate need to take on a challenge, coupled with belief in success.
Weaving a tight social fabric. We trust and even bond with people better after we’ve played a game with them.
Blissful productivity. Doing something complex and meaningful is more fulfilling than relaxation.
Epic meaning. People love to make a difference on a global scale.
It is easy to see how these four pillars translate to a work environment. When employees play team-oriented games, they are working together to problem solve, overcome obstacles, and creatively collaborate in a fun, lighthearted atmosphere. This creates trust, openness, and optimism, which are proven to improve employee engagement, productivity, revenue, and retention.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihaly writes in his bestselling book, Flow, “The more a job resembles a game – with variety, appropriate and flexible challenges, clear goals and immediate feedback — the more enjoyable it will be regardless of the worker’s level of development.” See? Work should feel like play!
Play builds community, accountability, and psychological safety. Employees who feel supported are more likely to take risks and openly express their ideas and opinions. In an economy in which creativity can determine whether a company succeeds or fails, play just might be the newest pillar of the workplace (built upon the strong foundations of spaghetti.)