Why play is good for business

Beach volleyball for corporate teams

Posted on November 6, 2023 by Delyth Morgan-Coghlan (Del)

What are the benefits of play at work and how to create play plans that everyone, including the business, will get value from.

The week of the 6th to the 13th of November 2023 is Play Week - a Sport NZ initiative to promote and encourage play for children. The upside of play is children who ‘learn to problem solve, get creative, make mistakes, create new friendships, learn skills and build a life-long love of being active.

‘ The value of it for adults and business is just as important. A society that understands how to play is more joyful and positive, more outgoing, healthy and better connected. And in a world where phones, computers and remote working means we’re online but have reduced face to face interactions, finding moments and creating opportunities to get together are more important than ever.

‘ According to the Association for Psychological science (Play Up the Benefits of Play at Work): if you make play a part of your work routines throughout the year you'll see improvement in morale, connection, productivity and wellbeing.

‘Research has found evidence that play at work is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout in individual workers. Play is also positively associated with job satisfaction, a sense of competence, and creativity. Studies show that when a participant receives a task that is presented playfully, they are more involved and spend more time on the task. And research suggests that the upsides of play extend beyond the individual. Teams of workers can benefit from play via increased trust, bonding and social interaction, sense of solidarity, and a decreased sense of hierarchy.’

So how do you add play to your work in a meaningful way that adds value. Here are some things to consider:

1. Add play to your away days and planning sessions - this is where we at Let Me Out join the play party! Our clients are always looking for a way to add play and fun competition to their conference and away days. It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to run a session where all the equipment, facilitation and prizes are provided. All you have to do is decide which fun activity your teams would like to do. The immediate effects are reduction in stress and we see a visible difference in some team members within 10 minutes of starting a team building activity. Long term, the connections created and memories made of doing a fun challenge together mean that staff are better acquainted back at work and are more likely to work effectively together.

2. Family Days - taking the time to get your staff and their families together can be a very rewarding way of developing a better understanding of what life is like for your people beyond the working day. Organising a family day of fun and play is beneficial on so many levels. Kids love to know what their whanau do every day and love it even more when there’s an opportunity for playing together. At Let Me Out we tailor activities and challenges for all ages and abilities so everyone from the youngest to the oldest can take part and enjoy together.

3. Company sports challenges - You can do this as an inter-company initiative where you allocate a time, during work hours or after work, to have a social league. It can be any sport or any activity challenge. We’ve seen some great initiatives in this space where companies have encouraged teams to compete in a team step challenge over a week, for example. Easy to do, no time commitment (other than actually taking as many steps as possible) and motivation for individuals to do a bit more during the week than they would usually achieve. Other companies have arranged their own football, touch or cricket challenge, once a week over an 8 or 10 week period. They’ve found that someone in the workforce has experience in running this type of competition and the results have been more active staff who get to know and appreciate each other in a non-work related way.

4. Join a social lunch time league - If there’s a social competition being run in your town or city, you’re onto a winner. You can encourage staff to join the company team for a once weekly lunchtime challenge and all the organisation is taken care of by the sports club. Look around for who’s offering corporate social sports competitions and enjoy the camaraderie of putting a team together to compete against other companies.

Most importantly of all, the secret to success is in not making these sessions feel forced or fake. It’s about genuine and authentic playful opportunities, inclusive for people of all ages, experience and ability.

"All work and no play doesn't just make Jill and Jack dull, it kills the potential of discovery, mastery, and openness to change and flexibility and it hinders innovation and invention."

Joline Godfrey

Talk to Let Me Out today about your next team building experience in Auckland, Wellington or wherever you are.

"All work and no play makes Jac a dull boy". Proverb