Why Businesses Must Prioritize Play for Employee Engagement

Categories: Advice for Doing Business in the Philippines, Advice for HR Professionals

Businesses thrive when employees are highly engaged and happy at work. Research conducted by the Oxford Business School found that happy workers are 13% more productive than their coworkers, despite the fact they work for the same amount of time.

However, actually engaging employees can be tricky. Some staff members will resent team-building activities that take them away from their core responsibilities, while others may struggle to connect with coworkers during collaborative tasks.

Increase engagement and productivity at your workplace by prioritizing play. Setting aside time for informal play can improve creative thinking, boost day-to-day productivity, and help employees form a meaningful bond.

Morale and Motivation

Low morale can derail your motivational strategies and leave folks feeling disenfranchised. Common causes of low morale include:

  • Disconnection: Sometimes, your staff feels siloed from the rest of your team. This usually happens when you don’t have an intentional cross-departmental communication strategy.
  • Micromanagement: Employees want to feel trusted at work. Infringing on their autonomy will only decrease their confidence, inhibit their performance, and undermine their desire to find creative solutions to challenges.
  • Poor Collaboration: Collaborative tasks break down silos and help folks form a stronger bond. However, when mismanaged, collaboration turns simple tasks into a serious headache for multiple teams.
  • Exclusion: Folks will feel put out if you don’t have a clear inclusion policy to guide your motivational strategies. Make sure everyone can contribute their voice during the decision-making process or you risk alienating your staff.

Setting aside time for play can build morale and boost motivation by breaking down barriers between teams. When engaging in play-like tasks (like Heads Up or Two Truths and a Lie), employees have an opportunity to form cross-departmental bonds and express themselves without a manager hovering over their shoulders.

In time, play can change your corporate culture and help folks come forward with meaningful feedback. This improves productivity at work by increasing staff buy-in, encouraging collaboration, and boosting creativity.


Modern businesses face a gauntlet of challenges caused by global conflicts, inflationary pressures, and unpredictable supply chains. Responding to dynamic, ever-changing markets requires creativity and critical thinking.

Dr. Amy Jo Dowd, head of evidence at the LEGO Foundation, explains that connecting creativity with play can have a profound impact on your employees’ productivity and happiness. Dowd states that “learning through play helps us to embrace uncertainty around change,” while improving “workplace collaborations and the innovative potential [of a business].”

Dowd also explains that play builds intrinsic motivation among employees. Staff who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to explore new perspectives and consider creative solutions to real challenges. This can increase the agility of your company, increase engagement amongst employees, and help your staff grow.

Remote Play

Play is key for morale in the office. However, your remote staff still need to participate in play-like activities that help them engage with the whole team. Effective team-building amongst remote employees can enhance communication throughout your company, build trust between remote and in-person employees, and help fight off feelings of isolation.

Set your remote teams up for success by playing games that people actually enjoy. Leave pictionary behind and instead opt for games like Among Us, Gartic Phone, and Fall Guys.

Team Building

Setting aside a morning for Lego-based construction or word association games can boost morale and creativity at your firm. However, if you really want to boost engagement and lead a happy team, you should invest in some outdoor team-building activities.

You don’t have to force your IT department to join in with paintball or a go-karting, either. Consider funding some outdoor activities like:

  • Geocaching: Break your employees up into teams and set them on a time-based, tech-heavy scavenger hunt.
  • Drone Flying: Drones are cheaper and more maneuverable now. This means your whole team can race drones or shoot incredible drone camera footage together.
  • Smart Gardening: If you have an allotment at your place of work, build buy-in amongst your tech-savvy employees by utilizing technology like temperature sensors and water quality readers. This gives green thumbs and tech-lovers a chance to collaborate together.

Ultimately, you need to find games that work for your team. This means you may have to forgo laser tag and roasting smores in favor of citizen science and nature observation. Finding games that resonate with your staff will increase buy-in and ensure that your management budget is put to good use.


Building time into your schedule for play can increase employee engagement, boost well-being, and create a more collaborative, creative culture at your place of work. This is particularly important today, as you’ll need motivated, confident employees if you want to make it through the turbulent times ahead. Just be sure to survey staff before taking them on a team-building trip, as some employees may prefer to spend their time playing tech-based games instead.