Unlock Creativity with the Power of Play

As children we’re expected to play but as adults, play is often seen as being a waste of time or a distraction. We’re expected to be productive and rational and this can inhibit creativity.

Research has proven that play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. However, as adults we regard play as unimportant and ignore all the benefits it provides.

There is a strong correlation between play and creativity. Those who lack creativity tend to be more rigid in their thinking and less spontaneous, whilst those who are creative are more spontaneous, more productive and better at solving problems.

As an employer, if you can instill a more playful culture in the workplace, you will soon reap the rewards. If people enjoy their job and, as with play, don’t focus on the end they become absorbed in and enjoy the process, rather than seeing tasks as just something to get through and complete.

Research has found that those who have complex, varied jobs that are not closely supervised by others enjoy their jobs more and have a more playful outlook to life.

Play also has learning benefits, which can help your team when it comes to professional development, such as building critical thinking and bolstering positive emotions. Learning by doing increases our engagement and understanding and strengthens the pathways our brain uses to learn and develop.

Despite seeming to be purposeless, our adaptive behavior stems from problem-solving in play and it makes us happy. Play is simply about the experience, rather than an end result and allows you to reconnect with the things in life that keep us grounded.

Companies, who want to ensure they have happy employees, should understand that play isn’t a time waster, instead it fulfills needs such as autonomy and competence and all that fun in turn reduces stress and boosts the immune system. So not only do you have a happy team, you have a productive and healthy team.

So the next time stress levels rise, turn to the power of play to help boost your team’s mood and reignite that spark of creativity.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• Incorporate gamification into everyday processes – Introduce game mechanics and rewards, for example have teams competing against each other to meet targets
• Risk-taking – Know that taking risks and failing is ok in order to succeed sooner
• Exploration – Allow time for people to explore different solutions and try them out to make progress when solving problems
• Storytelling – Everyone loves a good story and this is no different as adults. Stories can be a great way to provide context to solutions
• Constructive play – Allow your team to build and design as they go. Sometimes making ideas tangible can help uncover solutions that may not have been previously considered

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