Last week I was conducting a workshop on employee engagement for the Foundations of Management class and at the end I asked the group, “What is something that you learned that you’ll take back to your agency?” One person raised a hand and responded, “To remember to have fun and the importance of play bringing people together.” Yes!! There is evidence that play during work time is important for connection and collaboration. Think about when you were young and you played. Or even as an adult, when you let yourself play and have fun, what happens? We experience positive emotions, we let our defenses and our guard down and we have fun.
A colleague recently recommended a series on Amazon Prime called This is Football. The first episode, titled Redemption, is about how playing football in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide helped bring the communities together and led them to their recovery. It was a deliberate action by the government. Whenever there was a gathering of people, a football (soccer ball) would appear and people would start playing. By playing, people were active and then had to think in the present and it helped them to move on. “You pass the ball because you want to win. You’re not thinking about if that person is a Hutu or Tutsi.” In 2003, Rwanda made it to the African Football finals and won, defeating Ghana. Playing football helped the Rwandans to forgive and move forward.
I’ve seen many teams take time to play this past week. Whether it’s an off-site retreat with a fun ice breaker, an office game of bingo or doing random acts of kindness for others. Play brings us together and makes us better. Take some time to play with your teams. If you’d like ideas, I’m happy to help.