For the past 12 years, we have provided play-based learning programs for adults in professional settings. We see play-based learning as a practice that centers around creating an environment where people feel intrinsically motivated to engage, safe to take risks, and meaningfully connected to others.
Unlike free play, which has no specific goal or outcome, play-based learning utilizes play as a vehicle for achieving specific learning outcomes.
While play-based learning is typically a strategy deployed in childhood education, using this approach with adults has its benefits. In the context of corporate training, our data shows that play-based learning keeps people engaged, increases their openness to new ideas, and makes it safer to take risks
Play-based learning also provides a reprieve from the fast-paced, high-stress nature of corporate environments and makes it easier for people to connect with one another on an authentic level.
Benefits of Play-Based Learning at Work
Play is linked to learning and supports creativity because it allows us to temporarily step away from the world as we know it, unlearn old mental models, and create new ways of being, seeing, feeling, and doing. Other benefits of play-based learning include:
1. It Creates Psychological Safety
In work environments, people often fear looking silly and being judged or perceived negatively by others. This fear is especially prevalent when people with different hierarchical statuses, such as entry-level employees and CEOs, are in the same room.
Play-based learning environments create a shared sense of vulnerability among participants, who are often not used to expressing themselves creatively or playfully in the work environment. This shared vulnerability paves the way for a sense of deeper connection and trust.
2. It Accelerates Important Conversations
As mentioned previously, play-based learning creates a shared sense of vulnerability among adult learners. In play-based, low-stakes activities, people are more likely to share ideas, discuss mistakes, and be open to other perspectives.
This sets the stage for having more productive conversations about potentially challenging topics, such as organizational strategy, culture, or team dynamics.
3. It Makes Learning More Rewarding
Play activates the brain’s reward response with the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are also both associated with neural plasticity and learning. The best play-based learning environments offer people a variety of ways to engage that meet their different preferences, leading to pleasurable and memorable experiences.
The more we get pleasure from an activity, the more likely we are to do it again. Therefore, play-based learning environments increase the likelihood that employees will want to continue learning when opportunities are presented.
How a Play-Based Learning Philosophy Can Help Your Team
Beyond a classroom experience, play-based learning is a philosophy that can help your team learn and perform better. Pay attention to people’s natural inclinations and curiosities, and encourage them to learn new skills or gain new knowledge in areas that interest them. For added motivation, consider giving employees an annual stipend that they can spend on whatever learning programs they want.
At Ziksana, a play-based learning philosophy is built into our core values. “We try, we learn, we try again,” and “We have permission to laugh and play any time” set the stage for a culture where it’s safe to take risks, experiment, and stay light-hearted when things don’t go according to plan.
Take a look at your organization’s values, and consider how you can make learning an essential part of your company’s DNA.
See for Yourself!
Without experiencing it first-hand, it can be hard to imagine how play-based learning can be an effective training method in corporate settings. That’s why we offer FREE, 45-minute PlayBreaks for anyone curious about what play can do for their team!
Sign up now, or check out testimonials from our past clients on the power of play.