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How to Harness the Power of Play to Transform your Work Culture

How to Harness the Power of Play to Transform your Work Culture

Most people think of their lives as being split into two distinct parts: work and free time. But what if that distinction didn’t exist? What if going to work was so enjoyable that people actually looked forward to being there? It may sound radical but a growing number of forward-thinking businesses and organizations are trying to help their employees have more fun at work.

Happy employees work harder

The trendy startup agency with table football and pinball in the breakout zone, where hipster geeks chill amidst office dogs and beanbag chairs, may have become a modern cliché, but there is wisdom behind the nurturing of this kind of work culture. Numerous studies suggest that when people are enjoying their jobs they are more efficient. And it may be cynical, but if the only motivation driving some profit-focused companies to invest properly in the well-being of their staff is to increase productivity, then that’s better than nothing. Love ’em or hate ’em, Google has invested huge amounts into employee happiness, and profits have increased as a result.

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    A recent study carried out at the University of Warwick reveals that employee satisfaction and productivity are unquestionably linked:

    We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.

    Andy Beresford, Managing Director of Home Leisure Direct, an award-winning U.K. games-room specialist, has witnessed a rise in the number of purchases of games such as pinball and table football by U.K. businesses. Andy is passionate about the importance of play in society as a way to increase well-being:

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    It’s something I witness regularly, a group of people begin a game of table football or table tennis, and within minutes boundaries are broken, communication flows and they are having more fun than they could have imagined. This kind of playful set-up at work really helps employees, not only to kick back and release work stress but it also improves colleagues’ relationships and connectivity.

    The dark cult of presenteeism

    The 9-to-5 culture doesn’t really exist anymore. Little by little the boundaries that protect our leisure time are being eroded. From C-suite to junior intern, we see individuals sitting at desks in lit office blocks long past sunset, and many are taking work home on the weekend, too. But this kind of work-life imbalance has a sting in the tail for industry. People are becoming depressed and stress related illness is on the increase. According to a new report by King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science, depression now costs European workplaces the equivalent of $120 billion a year. The greatest economic loss is through absenteeism and lost productivity. In her book ‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time’ Brigid Schulte explores how we have forgotten to play because we put too much onus on being productive. It is the work ethic gone crazily off-kilter, with a new and dangerous status attached to productivity. But, contrary to common perceptions, this kind of obsession with “presenteeism” does not result in increased productivity. As Helen Lewis insists in this Guardian article:

    Research shows most people can only do eight hours of quality work a day. After that, they are just desk meat, surreptitiously playing Solitaire in a browser window or daydreaming about dinner.

    But if we can’t go back to the days of being home for supper at 5.30 p.m., what businesses can do is to create leisure time in the working day, by bringing leisure into the work space and encouraging employees to break up their day with allocated periods of creativity, communication, and free play with colleagues.

    Play therapy

    Flow” is the psychological state of being in which a person is stimulated, alert, present, and fully immersed in nothing but the task at hand. In this state, learning and creativity are optimum, time seems to fly, and a person feels totally satisfied. This is the state that is induced in children and adults by playful activity. Engaged in a task where process and pleasure override product and pressure, a person loses a sense of self, or ego, and worry and anxiety are reduced. In other words, play is therapy.

    The benefits of play

    Whether it’s a game of netball or table football, a video game, or a creative activity such as writing or painting, people emerge from this state of flow feeling refreshed and enlivened, and often acquire new insights and cognitive understandings. Play has the potential to make us:

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    1. Less stressed. Play triggers the release of endorphins and helps people to cope better with stress and anxiety. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help reduce isolation and depression.
    2. Brainier and more creative. Play challenges the brain and can help prevent memory problems by keeping the brain exercised and stimulated. Learning is accelerated and improved when a task is turned into a game. Play stimulates the imagination and increases problem-solving capacity.
    3. Closer to each other. Shared play brings people closer together, encourages bonding, and helps to resolve conflict. In new relationships, play can be an effective tool for overcoming any awkwardness. Studies show that employees who have friends at work are much happier, and retention rates increase.

    So, if play can transform the things we don’t always enjoy (exercise, work, study) into stimulating, life-enhancing activities, how can play be introduced in the workplace?

    1. Organised fun. It may not be enough to adorn a communal space with a sofa, an office dog, and a pinball machine. Employees need to be given permission to play; it has to be woven into the work culture by good leadership. Designated breaks and organized tournaments and gaming events will encourage people to get involved, and to feel safe enough to play. Most of us are not used to this at work and it may take a bit of practice to inject a sense of playfulness into the workday.
    2. Work events. It is shared experience that bonds people to one another, and studies show that this is increased with laughter and mirth. Throw parties, take the firm ice-skating, play pin the tail on the donkey (who looks like the boss) at Christmas, enjoy a wine tasting, a portrait-painting workshop—anything that will encourage co-workers to get to know each other, let their hair down, and have a laugh.
    3. Make meetings fun. In between the regular meetings, pencil a few meetings in the work calendar where the focus is purely creative and communicative. Introducing mind maps and brainstorming can encourage right-brain activity. Insight and innovation often stem from creativity and daydreaming, and too much pressure and expectation can thwart human potential.

    Towards a new work model

    Appreciative Inquiry, initiated by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, a model for positive and sustainable change within organizations. One of its core principles sums up perfectly the concepts that might drive a new human-centred workplace.

    The positive principle proposes that momentum and sustainable change requires positive affect and social bonding. Sentiments like hope, excitement, inspiration, camaraderie and joy increase creativity, openness to new ideas and people, and cognitive flexibility.

    Instead of dreaming of escape, people might actively choose to spend time in a workplace where play, creativity, social connection, reward, and a sense of fun are woven into the culture.

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    Published on August 4, 2020

    36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

    36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

    Most jobs require specialized skills. At the same time, there are a lot of resume skills that apply across the board.

    If you’re on the hunt for a new job, give your resume a refresh. Employers want to know: Can you communicate effectively? Are you easy to get along with? Can you manage your time effectively?

    Remember, you may not get a second look. Use your resume to make a great first impression.

    Holistic ability is what employers want to see when hiring. These resume skills can make you a top pick regardless of what role you’re applying for.

    Communication

    Being properly understood is critical. On any team, you must be able to relay and interpret messages with speed and precision. How you describe yourself, the concision of your phrasings, and the layout of your resume are great ways to showcase these skills.

    1. Writing

    Whether it’s emails or official documents, writing skills are essential for candidates in any industry. Clear, concise phrasings minimize misunderstandings and save the recipient time. This is probably one of the most important resume skills.

    2. Verbal Communication

    Speaking clearly and eloquently is one of the first things a hiring manager will note in an interview. Communicating over the phone is commonplace in business. Outline this skill on your resume, and they’ll invite you in to listen for themselves. This is easily one of the most important resume skills in most industries.

    3. Presentation

    Sales pitches and company meetings may include presentations, which require special communication skills. Being able to spearhead and properly carry out a presentation shows organization and resolve.

    4. Multilingualism

    Knowing more than one language can open doors for you and the business you represent.[1] Being able to speak another language allows your company to serve a whole new demographic.

    5. Reading Comprehension

    At any job, employee handbooks, company newsletters, and emails will come your way. Being able to decipher them quickly and effectively is an important resume skill. This goes hand in hand with having excellent writing skills.

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    Tech Savvy

    Technology is evolving rapidly, especially in the business world. Be sure to mention the technologies you’re familiar with on your resume, even if you don’t expect to use them daily.

    6. Social Media

    Almost everyone has some form of social media these days. Companies use platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to reach new audiences, provide customer service, and build brand loyalty.

    7. Operating Systems

    Can you use a Mac? What about a PC? Most jobs today require the use of a computer. Prior experience navigating common operating systems will help you acclimate much more quickly. This has become an important resume skill ever since the start of the information age.

    8. Microsoft Office

    Of all the software in the world, Microsoft’s Office suite might be the most popular. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook are widely used in the business world. Having this as part of your resume skills is very helpful especially in certain industries.

    9. Job-Specific Programs

    Did you get the hang of HubSpot in your last role? Is Slack something you’ve mastered? Be sure to mention them on your list of resume skills. These demonstrate that you can pick up new tools quickly.

    Interpersonal Skills

    Despite the rise in technology, businesses are run by people. Working with and for people means you need to be able to handle yourself with poise in different social settings. Highlight roles and situations on your resume that involved tricky conversations.

    10. Customer Service

    No company can succeed without its customers. Being able to treat customers with respect and attention is an absolute must for any applicant. Specific industries regard this as the most important resume skill their prospective employees should have.

    11. Active Listening

    Listening is an underrated skill, especially for leaders.[2] If you can’t listen to other people, you’ll struggle to work as part of a team.

    12. Sense of Humor

    You might wonder why having a sense of humor is a part of your resume skills. Humor is important for building rapport, but getting it right in the workplace can be tough. Everyone loves someone who is entertaining and can lighten the mood. On the other hand, people are turned off by immaturity and inappropriate jokes.

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    13. Conflict Resolution

    A customer stomps up to your desk and starts yelling about a problem he or she is having – how do you handle this situation? The right approach is to work to resolve the situation, not to escalate or avoid it.

    Teamwork

    One of the best parts of any job is the bonds you build with your co-workers. Fostering healthy relationships can make the workspace more enjoyable for everyone.

    14. Collaboration

    Whatever your line of work, chances are good that you’ll be working with others. Being able to collaborate effectively with them is critical if the whole team is to hit its goals. You can use various apps and tools available to help you collaborate with your team.

    15. Leadership

    Even if the title of the job you’re applying to isn’t “manager” or “executive,” there will still be moments when it’s your turn to lead. Prove that you’re up to the challenge, and you’ll be looked at as a long-term asset. Listing this as one of your resume skills is certainly an eye-catcher for most.

    16. Reliability

    Work isn’t always easy or fun. You have to be willing to pull your weight, even when times are hard. Otherwise, your co-workers won’t feel as if they can count on you. Reliability is important in maintaining the cohesion of a team. You should let people know that they can rely on you.

    17. Transparency

    To work as a team, members must be willing to share information with each other. Are you willing to own up to your mistakes, share your challenges, and accept consequences like an adult? Let them know that you’re transparent and reliable.

    Personal Traits

    Your resume is about selling yourself, not just your education and work history. The good news is, your “soft” skills are a great opportunity to differentiate yourself. Use bullets beneath your past experiences to prove you have them.

    18. Adaptability

    In any role, you’ll need to adjust to new procedures, rules, and work environments. Remember, these are always subject to change. Being able to adapt ensures every transition goes smoothly.

    19. Proactivity

    An autonomous employee can get work done without being instructed every step of the way. Orientation is one thing; taking on challenges of your own accord is another. Being proactive is an essential resume skill, especially if you’re eyeing for managerial roles in the future.

    20. Problem-Solving

    When problems arise, can you come up with appropriate solutions? Being able to address your own problems makes your manager’s life easier and minimizes micro-management. Problem-solving is an important yet often overlooked resume skill.

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    21. Creativity

    Can you think outside of the box? Even roles that aren’t “creative,” strictly speaking, require creative thinking. Creativity also helps in your ability to solve problems.

    22. Organization

    Staying organized makes you more efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes. Organization skills make life easier not just for you, but also for other members of your team. This makes it an important skill to put in your list of resume skills.

    23. Work Ethic

    Every company wants hard workers on its team. You’re applying for employment after all, not a place to lounge around. Putting this on your list of resume skills is just as important as actually exhibiting it in the workplace once you’re hired.

    24. Stress Management

    How well do you work under stress? If you’ll be required to meet tight deadlines, you’ll have to prove you can handle the heat.

    25. Attention Management

    Whether you’re developing a partnership or writing a blog post, attention to detail makes all the difference. People who sweat the details do better work and tend to spot problems before they arise. Use Maura Thomas’s 4 Quadrants of Attention Management as a guide to managing attention.[3]

    26. Time Management

    Time is money. The better you are at using company time, the more valuable you’ll be. Show that you can make every second count. Managing your time also means being punctual. No employer wants to deal with a team member who’s constantly tardy. This is commonly included in most people’s resume skills, but not everyone lives up to it.

    27. Patience

    Things won’t always go your way. Can you calmly work through tough situations? If not, you’ll struggle with everything from sales to customer service to engineering.

    28. Gratitude

    When things do go your way, are you gracious? Simply being grateful can help you build real relationships.[4] This also helps foster a better team atmosphere.

    29. Learning

    Employers want to invest in people who are looking to grow. Whether you love to take online courses, read, or experiment with hobbies, make sure you show you’re willing to try new things.

    30. Physical Capability

    Many job postings have the classic line, “must be able to lift X amount of pounds” or “must be able to stand for X hours per day.” Play up past positions that required you to do physical labor.

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    31. Research

    How easily can you dig up new details about a concept? Research skills are critical for marketing, business analysis, writing, account management, and more.

    32. Money Handling

    Being able to count bills quickly and accurately is important at any company with a brick-and-mortar storefront. Integrity and honesty are key when you’re running the cash register or reconciling bank statements.

    Commitment

    To employers, every new hire represents an investment. Are you worth investing in? Prove it. Employers need to see signs of commitment before they bring you on board.

    33. Longevity

    Hiring managers love to see long tenures on your resume. This suggests that you’re in it for the long haul, not just passing through for a quick buck.

    34. Fidelity

    For an employer-employee relationship to work, there has to be trust. Employers tend to find out when someone is hiding side gig or sharing information they shouldn’t be. References from past employers can prove that you’re loyal to companies that hire you.

    35. Obedience

    You won’t agree with every choice your employer makes. With that said, you have to respect your role as an employee. Obedience is about doing what your leader decides is best, even if you have a different perspective.

    36. Flexibility

    Life is full of surprises. A month into your new job, your role could change entirely. Flexible people can roll with the punches.

    Final Words

    Perform a self-audit: Which of these skills will your potential employer want to see? Add them to your resume strategically, and you’ll be that much closer to your dream job.

    Tips on How to Create a Great Resume

    Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

    Reference

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