There is a reason why gamification is so popular. People like playing games at any age. In the workplace, employee games can assume an even bigger role beyond just having fun. Employee games can strengthen employee engagement, boost team morale, and give employees the motivation they need to go above and beyond.
That's just for starters too! We've compiled a list of 20 games that can enhance the employee experience, improve your brand as an employer of choice, and add some challenging fun to the workplace. The list presents a variety of innovative games beyond the traditional ones frequently suggested.
1. Provide a team challenge to solve
Present a real-world organizational problem, solicit solutions, let people vote, and reward the person who gets the most votes. This game promotes new perspectives and innovation, and enables peers to recognize and celebrate each other. This approach has the added benefit of giving managers insights into team collaboration and new approaches to creative problem-solving.
2. Hold a safety and wellness competition
Safety and wellness are key determinants of employee satisfaction and productivity. The 2019 Staples Workplace Survey found that 41 percent of employees would take a 10 percent pay cut in exchange for working for a company that cares more about employee wellness.
Offer employees the opportunity to set personal goals for things like losing weight, lowering blood pressure, or participating in a company sponsored fitness program. Challenge departments to improve their safety records within a period of time. These types of competitions can be multi-faceted. Reward people who meet personal goals, department goals or multiple goals or who achieve the greatest results.
3. Compete in the name of charity
Today, younger generations want to work for a company that practices social and environmental responsibility. The fundraising platform Giv says the average American supports 4.5 charities, so interest is high.
An excellent game is allowing employees to present their favorite charity, report charity achievements over a period of time, and allow employees to vote and comment on the charity they appreciate the most. The charity getting the most votes/comments wins!
You can reward the employee with something like paid time off to work with the charity or a gift card the employee can use to support the charity. Highlight the charity on the company's website, to give it visibility, along with a picture of the employee.
4. Reward a team for meeting a goal
People are motivated by getting recognition for high performance as a team member. It's easy for the effort of some people to get overlooked because they aren't in highly visible positions or roles. Business success depends on each employee performing to their greatest ability, and that requires a high level of employee engagement.
Hold a friendly competition to recognize and reward all the people in a particular department or function who meet a relevant designated goal first. Goals could be things like improved productivity, increasing the customer base, or completing a project ahead of a deadline. Applaud the progress of employee groups on the company's website, internal newsletter, and social media channels; and don't forget to reward the winning team on your company-wide recognition and rewards platform.
5. Offer a creativity challenge
LinkedIn Learning research reports 57 percent of senior leaders rate creativity as the number one most desired employee soft skill. This game requires each manager to create opportunities that ignite employee creativity, and winners earn rewards.
For example, based on personal research, members can come up with creative proposals on how to improve your company's or processes each month. The goal is to come up withe the most innovative, useful, or promising idea. You can establish categories for submissions, if desired. Team members then vote for the one they like best in each category. Winners earn rewards and your company gets free research and insights.
6. Try a game focused on listening
All employees, and not just managers, should be active listeners. An active listener is someone who gives their full attention to someone when they are talking, provides and accepts constructive feedback, and remembers what was discussed. Employee listening is usually expected from managers and leaders, but it's a skill that all employees need. People spend 70-80 percent of their waking hours communicating, and 45 percent of that time is listening.
In the listening game, two employees assume roles – one as a talker and one as a listener. The talker presents a work scenario, like a work interruption that makes for a bad day, and the listener offers feedback with verbal and body language. The discussion should go back and forth for a while. The two then review the good, the bad, and the ugly of the communication and the feedback. Someone who can coach on active listening should offer input at the end of the exercise
7. Play a round of the telephone game
Though the whisper game (also known as the telephone game) has been used for a long while in workshops, it is more relevant than ever before in the age of technology where personal interactions are less frequent. Personal communication skills are often weak, so employee games that improve communication skills take center stage.
Letting the staff know the game is on, a manager whispers something to an employee and is instructed to pass the message along to another employee in the same area, and that is repeated around the office. At the end, the last employee tells the manager what she or he heard. The manager then shares the (almost guaranteed to be incorrect) instruction with the staff. It sends a message about effective communication in a light-hearted manner.
8. Set up difficult work scenarios
In this game, two people talk to each other, but one is instructed to be purposely rude. As one employee describes a work issue, the other person reads texts, frequently looks at the cell phone each time it dings, interrupts the speaker with questions, never offers feedback and distracts the other employee in various ways. At the end, the exchange is analyzed among a group of people. This could be called the "frustration game" but the point of these employee games in any format is to teach people that listening and being able to give constructive feedback requires giving someone your attention.
9. Put the employee voice front and center
A Salesforce study found that employees who believe they have a voice in their organization are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform to the best of their ability. In this game, ask employees for ideas, but don't put limitations on them. Encourage employees to share ideas about anything to do with the company, then let others asks questions and expand on someone else's idea.
The idea that gets the most responses or comments wins the game, and everyone who participated in developing and expanding the winning idea is rewarded. This could be called a collaboration game, but the idea is to demonstrate to managers the value of all employee voices.
10. Help the company save money
Employee games can have a definite purpose. For example, keeping organizational costs as low as possible depends on a workforce that actively engages in the effort.
In this game, people are asked to submit their suggestions for cost savings. Managers are likely to be very surprised at the many ideas submitted. It's people who work the frontline who often have the knowledge needed to streamline processes. Let employees offer their unit and vote on the ideas. The employees submitting the ideas that are implemented are given public praise and rewards.
11. Solve a puzzle
Team morale can go down in any organization, especially with the continuously changing work environment that exists today. People experiencing a high level of stress usually have a low morale and declining productivity. A CareerBuilder survey found that 61 percent of entry level people and 58 percent of professional/technical staff members are experiencing stress and burn out.
Give your employees a work break and gather teams together to solve fun puzzles. The puzzle can be an online game that is a puzzler or a game played in the office. It's adaptable to any type of business structure. The puzzle can be work or non-work related too. A puzzle might be a problem that has never been solved, like a faulty algorithm, or a shared picture puzzle that is assembled by teams online or in the workplace. The person or team to solve the puzzle first wins!
12. Promote learning and development
Getting employees to take advantage of all the learning opportunities your company offers can be challenging. Many employees carry a heavy workload that drags them down mentally and emotionally because of the constant pressure or the need to stay on top of frequent changes. The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Trends report says the number one reason employees feel held back from learning is lack of time.
Morale drops. Productivity drops. It becomes a downward spiral. Challenge staff members to participate in new learning opportunities, like online training modules, career exploration games, or lunch and learns. You can reward the teams based on predetermined criteria for participation. People are re-energized and feel valued, while also learning and developing their skill sets.
13. Upgrade your space game
Sometimes, all it takes to improve morale are small improvements in the office layout. Invite departments to offer affordable ideas to improve their workspace. A team of managers and employees can select the best ideas. You can set a budget so people know how far they can go with their ideas. Some offices may simply need a new coat of paint in a color reflecting today's styles, ergonomic desk chairs to improve employee comfort, or a technology upgrade. The winning team earns the upgrade.
14. Host a trivia game
Building a strong positive engaging culture is crucial to success, and employee games can play a crucial role in the process. This game involves the company's leaders asking trivia questions about the company. Questions about the mission, values, goals, products, successes and so on will involve people in a common cause while reinforcing the desired culture. Be sure to reward the winners and publicly praise their knowledge of the company. And don't limit your trivia questions to just company-related questions; throw in some surprising questions to keep people on their toes.
15. Hold a fundraiser competition
Your company likely has a particular cause it supports as a way of giving back to the community. A Manifest survey of full-time employees reports that 72 percent of employees would refuse a job with a higher paying company if the company doesn't practice environmental sustainability. Employee engagement and your company's sustainability efforts are linked. One way companies support social and environmental sustainability is by supporting community projects, and your employees can participate.
One of the important engagement strategies today is developing talent who internalize the values of their employer. Holding a fundraiser competition for a designated social or environmental effort is a way to engage employees in teamwork, strengthen a positive culture, and benefit the community.
16. Build a teddy bear game
Employee games can be downright fun! This is a game that leads to building teddy bears that are donated to a charity or hospital helping children. Bears can be built during a group session, or a company with a dispersed workforce can arrange for the bears to be built in real-time as teams add bear parts to an online image.
You can offer employees a set of different activities to complete, and each group that completes an activity gets a "bear part" like the head, arm, leg or accessory. The team that completes a bear first each month gets a prize. Activities or challenges can be as complicated or as simple as desired, depending on how the game is arranged. Offer a new set of challenges each month. Assembled toy bears promote collaboration, a positive culture, and a feeling of community.
17. Create an advertisement
Your company's culture of innovation is a key factor in remaining competitive. Develop a game that asks individual employees or teams to design an advertisement that reflects their perspective on a product or service sold by your company. Encourage employees to use humor. The winning employee or group is rewarded. This game elicits the creativity that many employees don't get a chance to express and can easily lead to innovative ideas for both the product team and marketing team.
18. Share personal stories
Many workforces today are defined by multiculturalism, multi-generations and other diverse demographics. Developing an inclusive workplace is a key talent management strategy to become an employer of choice. A PricewaterhouseCoopers global survey of business executives reported 87 percent of them consider Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) a value and priority.
Enabling opportunities for personal storytelling allows people to share their different experiences to increase cultural competence throughout your organization. Stories can be about career goals, team member goals, a first job, cultural experiences, or anything else that helps employees understand each other's different perspectives. Stories can be shared in small face-to-face groups or via an intranet or web-based program, giving remote employees the same opportunities.
19. Conduct a scavenger hunt
Various teams in your organization can go on a scavenger hunt. The number and size of teams depends on your organizational structure. Make a list of things or activities teams need to do. Individuals can takes pictures with a cell phone as proof of success. The list can include work and/or non-work items.
The first team to complete the list is the winner. This game can be played by employees located anywhere in the world because technology gives them the ability to send their pictures through the internet. Encourage people to share their experiences during the game on your company's social media channel to promote your company's amazing culture.
20. Turn to games that encourage collaboration
Collaboration is defining more and more workplace cultures. Microsoft gathered some statistics on collaborative work. The findings say that employees spend 50 percent more time engaged in collaborative work and work on twice as many teams as five years ago.
Another just-for-fun game that encourages collaboration is an online or in-office board game. Different teams can play in a board game tournament, with team members contributing individually to help the team win. Games can be anything from the traditional board game Scrabble, with two teams playing, to a custom designed online board game with a work theme. The winning team members earn a prize.
Employee games express appreciation
Our list of 20 employee games mentioned above are really just a sample of what you can do to enhance the employee experience, create a positive workplace culture, and improve collaboration. There are many other fun games for team building that you can adopt to express employee appreciation.
Making appreciation a central element of the employee experience is important to boosting engagement. Appreciation is expressed in a variety of ways, from games that improve team morale to recognition programs that celebrate everyday accomplishments. To learn more about creating a best-in-class employee experience, watch our webinar recording: "Taking Employee Experience to the Next Level by Delivering Personalization at Scale."
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