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Motivational Games to Play at Work

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Well-motivated workforces don't happen by accident. Motivational games can play an important role in boosting morale, building trust and spurring employees to perform at higher levels. With a little ingenuity, you can devise activities that are fun, stimulating and don't cost a lot of money. The payoff comes when workers return to their jobs with renewed enthusiasm and continue to put forth their best effort every day.

Logic and Reasoning Games

Collective activities like scavenger hunts promote camaraderie and morale, especially in larger firms where employees don't mix outside of their department. Choose 15 personal and work-related items, like coffee cups, day planners, desk photos and personal organizers to hide around the office. Divide staff into teams and give them about 10 minutes to find everything. The object is to connect each item with its owner. To win, players must work with colleagues they don't know, which breaks down personal barriers that impair their performance.

Performance Incentive Games

Improved efficiency is a concern for any business. One way of accomplishing this goal is to offer special achievement or recognition awards for employees who complete specific, short-term incentives. The pharmaceutical management firm Omnicare used this method to improve poor perceptions of its customer service. For example, the company might issue a note asking employees to identify and help three customers with billing problems. Once an employee won an award, a new challenge went out -- an approach that Omnicare credited with reducing customer waiting times and employee turnover rates.

Problem Solving Games

Games like "What's Cooking" stimulate critical thinking skills that workers need to improve at their jobs. Players imagine inheriting a successful restaurant run by a disorganized relative. Competitors then receive torn strips of paper, which they must reassemble -- in 12 minutes or less -- into recipes served at the former establishment. For added difficulty, don't choose teams in advance, which forces participants to find the right recipes -- as well as put them in proper order.

Role Playing Games

Some games combine competitive instincts and creative thinking. An example is "FantasySalesTeam," which Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Security modeled after fantasy football leagues, according to BusinessNewsDaily's August 2014 article, "10 Super Creative Ways to Motivate Sales Teams." Participants form teams and compete to earn points for activities like closing deals. The company then posts the latest results for everyone to see -- which creates added encouragement for players to help teams reach their goals.

Sports and Fitness Games

Organizations often use physical activities to teach teamwork when achieving a common goal. The Federal Reserve's New York branch followed this logic when sending employees to the University of Virginia's Darden Business School, where former Olympian Dan Lyons taught them how to set up and propel a rowing shell, reports Newsweek magazine in its October 2014 article, "Do Team Games for Employees Really Improve Productivity?" Participants in such exercises learn the importance of relying on each other in difficult situations.


Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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