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Introducing Games At Work September 8, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.

There are a lot of self-proclaimed trainers who are willing to waste your company’s time and resources by playing games during their learning sessions (make that “games AS learning sessions”). Really? Games like back in Kindergarten? Or spending an hour cutting pictures out of magazines and building dream-boards? Yes, this is STILL happening and companies are paying big dollars for Kindergarten-like games and building dream collages.

Sorry, but games is what you do when you are bored with your work or when trainers are either out of ideas or have nothing of substance to offer to the conversation.

Forcing games into the workplace does two things: 1) it proves that yours is not a fun place to work because if it was fun, it would be happening organically instead of needing to be manufactured, and 2) it gives people an excuse to NOT take their work seriously. After all, if the game is more important than the work at this moment, how important is the work?

If the games are supposed to represent “learning,” what is supposed to represent “work?”

“Gamification” is the new buzz-word creeping into the workplace and it seems to be aimed squarely at Generation Y – who bore easily once in the corporate world. (Funny that many Gen Ys want to join in the Kindergarten-like games yet, at the same time, want to be respected and not treated like children in the workplace).

Games are more likely to DISTRACT a workforce – not engage it. A disengaged workforce doesn’t happen because there isn’t any fun in the job. Disengagement is the result of poor management, poor hiring, poor training and poor communication of purpose and mission. I’m not sure how playing a game for an hour or two fixes all of that because when the game is over, you still have poor management, poor hiring, poor training and poor communication of purpose and mission. Games don’t fix – they distract.

Instead of games, Why not find ways to establish purpose and meaning in the work, hire fun people (not just the best resume) and improve the amount of time managers spend engaging their staff?

Managers who don’t engage their staff tend to have workers who don’t engage. (Do you see the relationship there?) Fix the managers, train them to be better communicators, coaches and inspiration-centers, and you will develop longer-lasting engagement than playing games in the workplace for an hour or two.

If you want to play games, do it off-hours as a social event but don’t make it mandatory that everyone join in, because being “forced” to play a game makes the game not fun anymore.

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Kevin Burns – Workplace Expert and Speaker



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