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Why businesses need to apply the rules of child’s play

  • Written by Lukas Ritson

Behaviours you can instill to foster employee engagement

Despite the evidence that you can’t buy employee satisfaction, companies are still bending over backwards to implement an array of strategies and benefits to encourage employee engagement - with minimal impact on long-term retention, performance, and productivity.

With decreased employee engagement and hindered morale being a driving influence to empower and challenge your employees, everybody is scrambling to find a fool-proof solution to creating happier and healthier employees.

But what if we stopped trying to over complicate the system, and instead went back to the fundamentals of child’s play.

As an outdoor educator and play expert, whose business - Wearthy - is built on creating places that turn children into strong, happy and healthy adults - surely, this can have the same effects on adults.

Let’s step it out.

  1. Embracing elements of risk:

Before you assume the worst. Let me put this into perspective - when it comes to play there is very much a difference between a hazard and a risk. A hazard is likely to instill harm, whereas a risk involves uncertainty about the outcome of an activity. In embracing risk we give our children (or employees) an understanding of self limitations and failure and that builds resilience and adaptability in working towards a goal, to motivate, problem-solve and instill self-confidence.

  1. Create open-ended experiences:

This really addresses that age-old issue of micromanagement. In child’s play, open-ended experiences are about allowing for experimentation and creativity by not dictating the playstyle. Think for example the difference between a child playing with a seesaw where there is only one way to play, versus a cardboard box which could be a rocketship, car, castle or any possibility we can imagine. In the workplace, it’s the same. Providing freedom to solve problems and work through challenges we will promote even greater engagement, and embrace new possibilities and new perspectives that can elevate how we go about things.

  1. Support sensory stimulation:

When we create spaces for child development, it’s all about supporting sensory stimulation to create connection. But as businesses, how do we do that as we navigate online, in the office or the mix of both? My advice - mix it up to stimulate each of the senses. Get outside for meetings, use Zoom, graphics and videos for visuals, but also ensure you carve out opportunities for purely aural conversations. If planning long meetings with teams in different places - send out treats or fidget items for shared experiences across taste, touch and smell. You’d be amazed by the level of connection, focus and concentration that just these seemingly minor adjustments can achieve.

The way a child plays is critical for who they become as an adult, so by applying the rules of child’s play to the workplace, we can foster the soft skills and capabilities of our teams.

And in doing so we can stimulate a higher sense of purpose for employees to foster greater engagement, nurture the confidence to set and achieve bigger goals and capabilities that will amplify outcomes.

Wearthy, builds epic commercial playgrounds

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