17 July 2019

The secret link between fun, learning and employee engagement

Cast your mind back to your childhood. Do you remember being told how important long division was?

You’d most definitely need to use it one day. Now, does anyone remember how to do it? No? Us neither! But we bet you do remember the excitement you felt when your teacher wheeled out the VHS player at the start of a lesson? Or how twisting the vent would control a Bunsen Burner flame? 

We’ve heard all about different learning styles, and half the fun is taking self-profiling quizzes to work out how you learn best. You may be surprised to learn that research says there’s no such thing as a learning style. Here at Synergy, we have another method that gets imaginations whirring. One you really need to make the most of…

Fun! It’s probably the engagement tool you didn’t even know you were missing. 


There’s science behind it

We all know about the common chemicals in our brains: endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. When we’re having fun, an endorphin release makes us feel happier and less stressed, and nothing makes the human brain spark like play. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a child or an adult, fun and play light up the areas of our brain that are associated with memory and clarity.


Fun = high performance & productivity

If you want your employees to get more done, instead of asking them to work harder, why not try introducing an element of fun into what they’re doing instead?

When we’re fully focussed on the activity we’re taking part in, we’re in a state of ‘flow’. This state of immersion taps into our reward system, creating enjoyment that can increase our productivity by five times. Five!


Make it fun and adults are more likely to ‘have a go’

When it comes to embedding a new idea or process, participation can often be your biggest hurdle. So why not launch it in a fun, playful environment? During a recent study in Australia, 63% of the adults measured agreed that enjoyment and fun had a significant impact on their ability to learn. Not only were they less bored, but they also agreed they’d be much more willing to ‘have a go’ at new challenges if they were fun, or at least explained in an engaging way.

In every campaign, we like to make sure that even the most serious of activities have an element of fun involvement. Learning something new or discussing important business issues doesn’t have to be boring. ODEON are one of our biggest champions of this philosophy – they even have an entire month dedicated to knowledge sharing and innovation through play.


When the fun stops, the learning stops too

Forget what you were told at school! Fun and learning aren’t mutually exclusive. When we’re having fun, our concentration levels are higher and our focus is sharper. This heightened sense of focus means we’ll be able to overcome challenging tasks and remember what we’re learning for longer.

Remember our earlier point about the state of ‘flow’? Flow in games and gaming has been linked to the theory of learning and retention. Just like the Bunsen Burner from our school days, it’s the fun things you remember from school, years and years later.


Reduce your sick rate by making learning fun

Stress triggers our natural ‘fight or flight’ response, increasing our heart rate and blood pressure. But facing stressful situations with a fun approach is actually known to lower stress levels, both in the short and long term.


Discovery is fun at any age

We’ve already touched on the impact fun has on our memory. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that we’re more likely to understand and remember what we learn if we’re discovering the answers for ourselves. And if we’re able to take this into our own hands, deciding how we learn and report our findings, our motivation levels are boosted.

We spoke to Chloe Foy, our resident behavioural science expert, to pick her brain on all things fun. Here’s what she had to say:

“When we’re having fun, we’re happy, and we know that happier workers are more productive. As for learning, fun taps into our reward system which will engage us in the moment and help us go back for more which will in turn deepen our learning.

A great paper called ‘How a Ha-HA can lead to AHA’ talks about how a teacher who includes humour in the classroom is rated more positively and that information can more easily be recalled and retained. Combine this with our ‘M’ of our HUMANIST checklist and you have some powerful learning!”


Want to find out more about why play is a great learning method? Why not start by watching ‘Play is more than just fun’ by Stuart Brown.

And if you’re interested in adding fun to your employee engagement agenda, you’re in the right place. Give us a call on 0117 962 1532 or drop us a line at hello@mccannsynergy.com and we’ll be happy to help!

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