Play Works in the Workplace and Beyond

How playing helps promote staff unity, wellbeing and confidence.

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This week I ran a Play Skills session for staff at a fantastic special needs school in North London. This was a 2 hour CPD after a long day at work for 30 staff, at the beginning of a long term.  The aim was three-fold: To help to integrate new staff in to the team and bond as a whole, to boost the wellbeing, moral & confidence of the staff team at the beginning of the term, and to remind staff of the skills they have and how to integrate Play and games back into their lives and into their classrooms.

Tall order? Actually, time and again the act of playing does the work. Play is so rich in transferable skills, that in being engaged in the exercises and games we facilitate, it is such a pleasure to see the visible transformation that participants undergo.

Play supports cooperation, team work, creativity and creative thinking; the act of playing supports development and maintenance of flexibility, spontaneity and confidence.  

As an adult, being asked to play encourages us to step out of our comfort zone, safely. In almost every session I notice from some participants initial hesitation, or rather momentary fear of the unknown (what will be expected of me? Will I look/feel silly?). Then with gentle and supportive encouragement, and permission to let go if the idea that we always have to be right, I see them set off on a journey of reconnection to their joy and creativity.  

We know that this is a much better place to inhabit; to approach our work, personal and daily lives from.

At the beginning of the session, I asked each participant to do what I call a 5- word check-in; using five words to sum up how they are feeling, either as a sentence or as individual words. Some of  words used were: Tired, confused, I want to go home, feeling flat, long day.

After a 2 hour Play Skills session, we finished with a one-word check out, so sum up each person’s experience/how they were feeling in that moment. The words that came back included: Energised, happy, joyful, fun, excited, relaxed.

The words speak for themselves; the atmosphere and transformation that comes over people during a play session is palpable – it’s a delight to experience and facilitate. Play really works!

Jessica Shaw

Director PACT Creative training, PACT Creative Training

Jess is the founder of PACT Creative Training (Play, Act, Create, Transform). She has 20 years' experience facilitating workshops using fun and playfulness in order to boost wellbeing and lower stress. Jess runs creative team building events for companies, Staff INSET Training in Schools and wellbeing-through-play workshops for children & young people in schools.


Go to the profile of Jenny Hawkins
over 3 years ago

Looks fun! A great way to promote community cohesion, communication and collaboration-positive challenge/without negative stress and as you say reminds staff that bodily activity helps to make knowledge - in carefully selected lessons - memorable for pupils. Your work also contributes to general community/group and individual well-being.