The Power of Play

March 12, 2015

Power of PlayHow play is becoming the secret weapon of the successful modern enterprise.

In today’s business world, the companies that encourage play at work can have a competitive advantage. This is not only true for Google, other companies outside the tech industry are also seeing the benefits of play at work. The Department of Work and Pensions in the UK saved $41 million by having employees trade ideas via an online ‘game’ platform to foster innovation, and Deloitte saw employees complete online training courses 50% faster after gamifying their learning platform.

Your employees are closest to your brand, products and customers.   They understand the ins and outs of your business.   These colleagues are a valuable asset for building a strong and differentiated brand.   By encouraging your employees to ‘play’ with possibilities they help you create standout customer experiences and a future you hadn’t anticipated.

Play has other benefits. It is an effective motivational tool because it speaks to our psychological need to be recognized, or give feedback, without the risk of being criticized. When we play, we are free to fail and are motivated by the potential of experiencing the positive feeling we get from accomplishing a specific task. The act of playing also forces us to socially engage and in many cases gain the trust of a teammate, which explains why employees that play together stick together, improving retention.

Gamification is a powerful tool for introducing structured play at work, with 70% of Global 2000 companies planning to use a gaming application to stimulate innovation by 2014.   The idea is to set achievable challenges that increase in difficulty as each task is completed to stimulate learning. Why not focus these challenges on how to build your brand?

So, how do you get started – building your brand through play?

  • Make clear the purpose of play for your organization.
  • Work to alleviate fear in the organization and foster ‘safe spaces’ to explore new things.
  • Practice play and reward those who nourish it.
  • Embolden the learning of new things and willingness to learn again.
  • Give employees the freedom to get out of the office and work in new ways.
  • Encourage senior colleagues to lead by example and show how play can make a difference to business performance.

Gretchen is a Director at Ketchum Change, plus a leadership and team effectiveness expert. Outside of her Ketchum role, she loves to DJ and has a passion for deep house music.