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Marshmallow Dodge Ball and Making Work Fun
Play can be serious business with measurable results, but it requires more than just fun and games.
What do morning singalongs, impromptu air hockey matches and marshmallow dodge ball have to do with business? In the case of Umpqua Bank, quite a lot.Employees — from executives to managers and tellers — of the Portland, Ore.-based bank get together each morning, whether it’s in the head office or in the smallest of the 176 branch locations, for what Umpqua CEO Ray Davis calls “motivational moments” — fun, short exercises to energize workers. It’s a core part of the bank’s strategy and one that’s delivering solid growth.Since taking over the helm in 1994, Davis has grown Umpqua from a local bank with six locations to a regional powerhouse with branches throughout Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Creating a sense of play among employees was one way the bank grew from $140 million in assets to more than $6 billion, moving from third to first in the market in the process and winning a ranking as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2008.Pamela Meyer, founder of Meyer Creativity Associates and an instructor at DePaul University in Chicago, asked an Umpqua HR leader to describe the impact motivational moments had on employees.“[She said] the best I can describe it is that people just feel lighter,” Meyer said. “They’re more likely to connect with each other and share resources.”Meyer said work has come to be associated with too many negative things — structure, routine, stress and boredom, among others. Her book From Workplace to Playspace, published in April, documented the way companies like Umpqua, Google and Chicago-based T-shirt maker Threadless have used a sense of play to change perceptions and drive business results.“When I was conducting my research, both with individuals that were thriving and with organizations that were thriving, they don’t make distinctions between work and play but in fact create spaces where people are working at the top of their talent,” she said.Play has gotten a bad rap in business circles, often perceived as something that happens after real work is done. But incorporating play into work is a key dynamic of business success. Successful companies define play broadly to mean the play of new ideas, possibilities and perspectives and look at it as a way to foster learning and create more flexibility and responsiveness.
Microlearning — Size DOES Matter
June 20th 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
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