May 23, 2020
There are a lot of reasons why we may or may not enjoy our jobs. From how fulfilling we find the work, to how much money we make, to the hours we’re required to keep, a complicated tangle of factors are involved with determining our job satisfaction and engagement. Due to our tendency to focus on elements such as salary and productivity, we tend to overlook an incredibly important facet of our experiences in the workplace: our friendships.
At a time that that according to Gallup workplace engagement is lower than ever, it’s essential to take a look at the things that really make us feel good about our jobs, which are often the people we are surrounded with.
Think about it this way, what would make you more excited about your job, your KPI’s, the intranet, performance reviews, email upon email and the instant coffee or having genuine, real friendships with your co-workers. Relationships that allow you to connect, commiserate, laugh, and have some fun at work? The answer to me is obvious, and it’s the reason why I want to put a spotlight on the importance of fostering friendship in the workplace.
In this article, I’ll explore why it’s so important to have social connections in the workplace, dig into how powerful work friends are, and explain how gamification can help foster socialisation at work.
We Are Social Creatures
The same way that many animal species naturally live their lives in groups, instinctively choosing to be in each other’s company, human beings too, are hard-wired to be social. We naturally seek the companionship, approval, and guidance of others, and we’ve done so since we were Neanderthals in caves as part of our survival.
In fact, our social nature is part of our biology, our neurology. We even have a hormone that exists explicitly for that purpose. Oxytocin, often nicknamed the love hormone, encourages us to bond with friends, lovers, and family members. When we are physically close to others, our brains are flooded with oxytocin, giving us feelings of well-being and warmth that encourage us to connect with others more and more. In fact, studies have shown that oxytocin can even help increase our trust in other people.
And it’s not just about warm fuzzies; socialising is a matter of life or death and I’m not trying to be dramatic. Humans need each other to survive, not only to meet our primary physical needs for food, shelter, and reproduction, but also to keep us well. It’s proven: being socially isolated can increase your risk for premature mortality (dying early).
Now, I’m not saying that you’ll die if you don’t have friends at work. But I am saying that you’ll have a much better time in the office if it’s filled with at least a few friendly faces.
Friends at Work
There’s science to back up this claim too. According to Gallup, close work friendships can boost employee satisfaction by 50%. And people who have a best friend in the workplace are more likely to fully engage in their work - by 700%. That’s no small potatoes.
There’s a myriad of significant benefits to friendship in a workplace beyond just productivity and happiness. Camaraderie in the workplace can help tie employees together, allowing us to feel like we belong and we’re not in it alone. Friends can help support us in difficult times as well as celebrate our successes, making the experience of going to work much more engaging and livelier.
Beyond that, workplace socialisation can contribute to a greater sense of purpose at a job. Your motivation to succeed becomes amplified by the desire to contribute for the sake of your teammates. It makes your day-to-day about more than just yourself and essentially gives you a mission to work toward. The same way that we’re willing to make sacrifices and face challenges for our loved ones, we’re willing to work harder for a team that includes people we care about on a personal level.
Friends and Play
When we play games, physical or digital we tend to forget the challenges that life has thrown at us. Play helps us disconnect the part of our brain that worries, even just momentarily. I’d like you to think back to a time you were playing a game, maybe you when you were about to score a goal is your sport of choice, defeat the bad guy at the end of a level or when passing go and collecting $200. Were you thinking about how you were going to overcome some work challenge or worrying about the things that keep you awake at night? I doubt it. When we play it lifts us above day-to-day reality.
All of these things - our innate, human need to socialise and the advantages of having friends at work - can be leveraged by smart, well-designed strategic play and gamification, to improve employee engagement, retention, and performance. A cleverly gamified workplace can use game mechanics like friendly competition, collaboration, exploration and social sharing to foster friendship, camaraderie, and purpose amongst employees. It can be used to give employees a mission within their team, encouraging them to work harder not for an organisation but for their peers and even better they’ll enjoy doing it.
Look, there’s no time like the present to remind us how important friendship is. Being alone together due to Coronavirus has made people value their connections more than ever. Now, we know better than to take our social ties for granted. It’s clearer than ever before that socialisation is a core motivator. Stratigic play and gamification can be utilised to tap into this and in turn improve the employee experience, helping organisations reach their goals and improving individuals’ lives.
To find out more about how to harness the power of friendship, strategic play and gamification, contact Playfulli today.
Tags: Customer Experience, Innovation, Leadership
Connecting from Home Through Gamification
May 07, 2020
Let me be the 7th billionth person to state the obvious…the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and has changed the nature of how we work, for the foreseeable future.
Most of our workplaces have done a tremendous job in ensuring we have the technological resources we need to keep us connected to our respective workplace responsibilities. But now we have a new challenge. Unfortunately, staying motivated and focused can be incredibly challenging during this time.
Why? Because while we’re all connected to our work, we’re isolated from the other necessary connections that are essential to mental health and well-being. So how do you take care of the well-being of staff remotely? How do you replicate the natural energy and camaraderie that comes from working in a workplace with other people?
Enter HR departments and change managers who are now trying to develop and implement strategies and tools aimed at engaging staff from home. Let’s face it, most business continuity plans don’t include ongoing employee engagement strategies.
Employee engagement can be tough at the best of times and now it needs to be done remotely which is where injecting gamification could help. Gamification can help employees form and maintain good habits as well as help employees rally around a common purpose or goal.
The honeymoon is over!
Turns out for many that working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Previously and certainly before it was forced upon us, working from home sounded appealing to most. There’s no commute and you can work in active wear if you choose without being judged. Plus, there’s nobody around to stop you from combining your daily tasks with keeping on top of house chores or travelling down any YouTube wormhole. Win-win!
But now that it’s a daily outlook with an ambiguous end in sight, how do we replace the energy that comes from a team or workplace dynamic?
Staying personally connected benefits everybody
Of all the elements now missing in the workplace, the most critical to morale is camaraderie. Naturally, these connections have psychological benefits, and increase workplace satisfaction.
In fact, a Gallup report found that stronger bonds in the workplace could lead to 7% more engaged customers and 12% higher profit.
Plus, there’s the routine and shared goals that are much more straightforward when you have that hub (the office) where everyone gathers. Those relationships can have a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom-line. And during such a challenging time, may make all the difference on whether your business stays afloat.
Why gamification is a great strategy
Did you know that gamification programs approached with the right intent and knowhow have seen employees say they are happier (88%) and made them more productive (89%) at work?
That’s because well designed gamification is a great vehicle to recognise the motivational diversity within an organisation.
Furthermore, successful gamification focuses strongly on promoting the camaraderie that will keep your team working not just with each other, but for each other, with common purpose.
Through this method, your team can challenge themselves in a controlled, safe environment. There isn’t the worry of failure, but only the prospect of getting better and striving towards improvement and mastery of role.
Plus, implementing gamification while your employees work from home will help provide good work habits for when social distancing and isolation is not a part of our daily vernacular and we can embrace being in close proximity with others, once again.
So, whilst many companies are cutting costs where possible, there are others taking the opportunity to test out strategies they hadn’t considered or otherwise were planning further down the track.
This might just be one of those strategies’ worth testing.
To find out more about using gamification to engage employees at home (or in the workplace) contact the team at Playfulli.
Tags: Customer Experience, Innovation, Leadership