Incorporating fun at work is essential for increasing employee motivation, productivity, and reducing stress (Karl, Peluchette, Hall, & Harland, 2005). The roots of the modern workplace fun movement can be traced back to the works of Peters and Waterman (1982), and Deal and Kennedy (1982), who encouraged managers to foster organizational cultures that promote play, humour, and fun. According to Glasser (1994), having fun is the highest level of need of employees and is often unmet. Traditional work organizations' assumption that any form of play interferes with, and detracts from productivity has become an old way of thinking (Ford, McLaughlin, & Newstrom, 2003). Only recently has academic research begun to challenge this notion by testing the business value of fun in the workplace. When well-intended and carefully-designed, play at work has been found to increase a host of favourable outcomes including higher employee job satisfaction, morale, creativity, performance, and retention, as well as reduced employee tardiness, absenteeism, and burnout (Abner, 1997; Abramis, 1989; Lundin, Paul, and Christensen, 2000).
Workplace fun can be achieved through activities such as:
- Productivity contests
- Social events
- Celebrations of work and personal achievements
- Team-building games
To expand on the latter, games can serve as an integral medium to drive behaviour in groups whereby team play, group goals, camaraderie, and competition fuel action. This is where corporate wellness games such as A Step Ahead come in.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE 10,000 STEP CHALLENGE
A Step Ahead is a new and popular wellness game developed by Mike Tinney, chief executive of Fitness Interactive Experience. It is available on all sorts of platforms including phone, tablet, and desktop. A Step Ahead has been part of a push by businesses to promote fun and healthful behaviour within the workplace. As in many corporate wellness programs, players join teams and document their daily progress in achieving fitness goals. However, in Tinney’s A Step Ahead: Zombies game, reaching these goals serve another purpose: to evade pursuing zombies and avoid being turned! With a story that unravels over the course of each of the challenge’s 6 week episodes, teams race from safe house to safe house, building up to a climactic rescue attempt.
“Teams of five to 15 players work together to outrun the zombies, but here's the thing: If you fall behind, you risk becoming a zombie yourself. For some players, that's a motivator to do more and urge their teammates to do more.” – Mike Tinney
In addition to A Step Ahead’s weekly episodic challenges, there are new bonuses that appear meaning that every team can remain competitive throughout the entire zombie-escaping pursuit. There is also an option for inputting trackable exercise and diet items for extra progress in the game: “Workouts logged stem the tide of the Zombies’ advance, while tracking and improving your diet make you more resistant to Zombie contact” - this is ultimately how fitness meets fun in the workplace! By incorporating team-based and socially-connected challenges, A Step Ahead has effectively put a fun spin on conventional pedometer programs. `If zombies are a bit too much for you, Fitness Interactive Experience offers similar products with other themed challenges and a “deskercise program” that is well worth checking out!
Can you envision A Step Ahead: Zombies being played in your workplace? What other fun, corporate challenges have you experienced?
Let us know in the comments!
Abner, M. (1997). Corporate America takes fun seriously. Women in Business, 49(5):42.
Abramis, S. T. (1989). Finding the fun at work. Psychology Today, 23(2): 36-38.
Deal, T., & Kennedy, A. (1982). Corporate cultures. The rites and rituals of corporate life. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Ford, R. C., McLaughlin, F. S., & Newstrom, J. W. (2003). Questions and answers about fun at work. Human Resource Planning, 26(4): 18-33.
Glasser, W. (1994). The control theory manager. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Karl, K., Peluchette, J., Hall, L., & Harland, L. (2005). Attitudes towards workplace fun: a three sector comparison. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12(2): 1-17.
Lundin, S. C., Paul, H., & Christensen, J. (2000). Fish! New York, NY: Hyperion.
Peters, T., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Photo credit: http://www.astepaheadchallenge.com/a-step-ahead-zombies/