In anticipation of CAI’s upcoming HR Management Conference, one of this year’s speakers, Dawn Daria, shares how a little play time at work can go a long way in optimizing performance. Make sure to register by Friday, Feb. 5th to get early bird pricing for the Conference!
As a co-founder of Skoyz Wellness, Dawn aims to promote whole person wellness to boost employee engagement, productivity and company culture. She is an award-winning educator and author, and works with co-founder Paul Miller, a nationally touring comedy juggler, to create memorable team building experiences that serve to break down barriers and create authentic connections between employees.
Somewhere around middle or high school (and now it seems even elementary school), play time is no longer valued as essential to learning. Instead, we encourage students to get serious, work hard, and focus. But in the process we lose sight of the fact that no matter what our age, play creates physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being critical for effective and efficient performance. The focus for creating healthy and productive work cultures should be on developing tools and strategies to seamlessly integrate play breaks into our workday in order to refresh energy and replenish creative reserves.
Here’s how play breaks support and encourage well-being:
Physical: Particularly for those of us that spend most of our day staring at a computer screen, sitting in meetings, or driving a car, adding play breaks gets blood flowing to different parts of the body and brain.
Intellectual: Play provides an opportunity to practice two different ways of approaching a problem. On one hand, we set a goals to “win” the game and strategize toward that end goal while at the same time being open to improvising when variables change. Both are critical cognitive skills for problem solving and growth.
Emotional: By definition, we engage in play voluntarily, for its own sake, because it is pleasurable. Play researcher Brian Sutton-Smith once stated, “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”
Social: During play, barriers break down and we become more attuned to the people we play with which builds trust and authentic connections. Plato understood and captured this experience with his statement, “You discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.”
Play can take many shapes and forms. In his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown identifies eight different play personalities — including the Joker who likes to make people laugh, the Kinesthete who likes to move, and the Explorer that likes to seek out new experiences and ideas. Think about yourself and other members of your team – what types of activities put you in a playful state and bring joy? How can you build short play breaks into your work day, internal meetings, or even your commute?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Start meetings with an improv game: You can find instructions for improv games on line or in books. Zip, Zap Zop is a great beginner level, non-threatening game to start with.
- Collaborative Creativity Wall: Have a designated spot in a break room where one person starts a sentence, story, or poem that can continued by colleagues one word or line at a time.
- Poll Your Team: How do you and your team members like to play? How can these forms of play become an active or passive part of your work place culture? Maybe it is a community jigsaw puzzle in the break room or a two minute afternoon break that features a company-wide dance party or rock, paper, scissors tournament.
- Learn to Juggle! Juggling provides a great physical and mental activity that can be done for two minutes or two hours. Very adaptable, juggling can be done solo or in groups, inside or out, and packs small for travel.
Learn how juggling and a playful mindset can encourage creativity, resilience, and connection for your team at our session Dropping the Ball: Juggling Creativity and Innovation at Work on March 9th at the HR Management Conference. We guarantee you will leave our session refreshed, energized, and ready to juggle!