Wanna know what fun is? The president at the last agency I worked at used to throw candy at employees when they answered her trivia questions at all hands meetings.
No joke, employees would dodge her South Patch Kids and Twizzlers while eagerly shouting out the trivia answers about where the company was headed. As I reflect back on it, though, what may have been crazier than flying candy was how engaged employees were around the company learning trivia questions.
For the record, I’m not saying candy-throwing presidents during spontaneous trivia is the answer to improved company learning… though there’s certainly something to learn from this.
How do you make learning more impactful? If you ask us, it’s through play. According to a recent study, 80% of learners said they’d be more productive if their learning or job was more game-like. This article outlines tips on how to make your company learning more playful.
1) Gamify the beginning and end of each session.
This study from Yale helps us understand why the first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes of learning are the most important for motivation and engagement. So, what can you do to help these moments make a lasting impact? Add games.
To introduce a new speaker, share fun facts about the speaker before going into their professional credentials. Include trivia, crossword puzzles, or word scrambles as a way to reinforce the learnings at the end of the sessions. Award winners with candy or by giving them points for their teams.
Pro tip: If you want to gamify the full experience, put people on teams in advance of the learning session and track points throughout as they compete in trivia questions or other games. This adds healthy competition and increased engagement.
2) Diversify the types of learning.
According to Neil Fleming’s VAK Theory of Learning, people typically have one dominant learning style — Visual (learn by seeing), Auditory (learn by hearing), or Kinesthetic (learn by doing). Their preferred style defines the best way for a person to learn new information.
Despite recent research that dispels this theory, we can all agree mixing it up is a lot more engaging than a monotonous day of sitting in a conference room being talked at all day long.
To mix it up, we suggest being purposeful about the types of learnings you offer. Go session by session through your agenda and make sure there’s a healthy mix of video, interactive sessions, panels, keynote speakers, and brainstorms.
Pro tip: Read this article on the importance of empathy in teaching. If you ask yourself, “What will employees experience as they go through this learning agenda?” you may be able to create a more diverse agenda that appeals to a wider audience.
3) Add movement.
We can all relate to the feeling — when you’ve been sitting for too long, and your eyes get heavy, and no matter how engaging or relevant the speaker is, you just can’t focus. The struggle is real.
It’s not just an excuse — people need to move. According to the Edutopia blog, incorporating short exercise or stretch breaks into lessons can re-sharpen people’s focus on learning.
Pro tip: Consider asking an employee to lead a stretching break in between sessions or encouraging people to sit in a new seat everytime they re-enter the room. If you’re really looking to move, start the day with a work out class for the company — bring in an in office wellness class such as yoga or kickboxing.
4) Schedule time for play.
Think back to when you were in elementary school. Somehow, you had 6 hours of learning and made it through math, language arts, and even handwriting. How did you ever survive?
The answer, of course, is recess. Because while play can be included in the overall learning agenda through gamification, diverse learning types, and movement, we also advise scheduling specific play time. While work and play don’t need to stay separate all the time, there’s significant research that demonstrates dedicated play enhances creativity, connection, and productivity.
Pro tip: While planning your learning sessions, scheduling time for play doesn’t have to add stress to your life. The beauty of play is that you can just let it happen. Put out the company cornhole set, a kickball, or some frisbees and voilá! You’re team will know just what to do.