How Using Games Can Help Leaders Ensure Virtual Employees Feel Valued

Appreciation is a subtle art in the best of times.

In a traditional office setting, a simple thumbs-up, a friendly tone, or verbal recognition can build a sense of employee satisfaction over time. With employees across the world working from home now, these tried-and-true strategies are no longer feasible.

The number of knowledge workers who have transitioned to remote work increased to nearly 6 in 10 by late March, and it didn’t stop there. By 2028, it’s predicted that 73% of all teams will be operating at least partially remotely. While this historic pandemic is temporary, many companies may choose to remain virtual permanently.

It’s time to pivot to virtual appreciation and adopt it as part of a long-term HR strategy. However, doing this successfully can be a considerable challenge.

New Obstacles Remote Teams Face In 2020 

 

Whether seasoned or new to remote work, many teams are facing unexpected hurdles on top of daily work. Schools are closed in 191 countries. Families are doing their best to work from home together. Tech issues can drastically extend formerly brief interactions. Moreover, social distancing, while instrumental for health and safety, is causing a nationwide cabin fever.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure our employees feel recognized and valued, regardless of distance.

Three Ways To Use Games To Make Remote Workers Feel Appreciated

 

Remote teams report higher job satisfaction, according to the American Psychological Association. On the other hand, they experience more social and professional isolation, which can lead to loneliness and disengagement.

Managing employee recognition from a distance is an essential skill for today’s HR and L&D leaders. From my vantage point as a creator of game-based learning, I’ve seen firsthand how companies use games to train employees, facilitate virtual meetings or create a friendly competition, and I feel certain that games are a key solution for bolstering teams during these uncertain times. Let’s explore how employers can leverage games to ensure employees feel valued.

1. To Boost Motivation

 

Playing games has been linked to improved attention, expanded cognitive workload, and increased cognitive control. Individuals who engage in competitive games are more likely to be able to concentrate deeply, quickly access working memory, and adjust to changing situations. Choosing games that tend to these mental skills is critical for the success of remote teams, and it can be fun, too.

Games tap into our universal drive to be the best. They can provide intrinsic motivation through leaderboard bragging rights and provide extrinsic motivation through rewards.

2. To Provide Comfort

 

We could all use an extra dose of Zen during these stressful times.

In a recent study published by the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, participants noted high levels of anxiety, preoccupation with the pandemic, and difficulty sleeping. To cope, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests focusing on fun activities after difficult tasks and connecting with others often.

Diving into well-loved games is a great way to reestablish a sense of connection in remote teams and bring everyone together. This familiar, socially competitive experience can happen virtually on Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts or just about any screen-sharing solution. To boost team bonding, allow game content to focus on anything from company topics to pop culture. Most importantly, the games you choose should deliver fun and help employees de-stress. With The Training Arcade®, you can play a Jeopardy!® game on a web conference call with the Virtual Instructor Mode. Read more about how that works here.

3. To Create Positive Routines

 

Companies around the world have seen a massive uptick in video calling this year, with 300 million-plus people using Zoom on a given day. While it’s a great way to carry on with important training, time constraints and tech limitations mean routine socializing before meetings can fall to the wayside.

However, the loss of purely social time can have a major impact on the well-being of remote employees. The WHO recommends staying connected and set up new routines if adjusting to new circumstances.

By regularly deploying games before a meeting and following up with praise or prizes on the call, leaders can establish a routine of celebrating achievements publicly. This creates a cycle of positivity that encourages colleagues to cheer each other on and deepens company relationships.

Have Fun And Value Remote Teams With Game-Based Learning

 

This has been a challenging year for all of us so far. As with every challenge, it’s also a huge opportunity to demonstrate our attention and praise our teams as we adjust to the new normal.

Games are a helpful strategy for companies to develop and support a successful remote community. Whether our teams need motivation, relaxation, or a cause for celebration, leaders can use games as tools to show our teams we care.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Councils Member
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