If we want staff to develop we must deliver the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to make improvements.

Effective training is the key to successful performance improvement. But engaging staff with training can be a challenge. Why?

When we’re young, we learn by playing. It’s noisy and its fun. Then we get older and we sit in a room and stare at a screen. Have we lost the vital ingredients that make learning fun and memorable? 

I’d like to persuade you that content-rich and subject-specific board games can make learning and change more enjoyable and more effective. 

Board games can bring people together to discuss new information, share experiences and enjoy themselves. Games are the framework for a structured series of discussions that the players manage themselves. It doesn’t feel like training, but it is. Players learn more, remember more and do more because they’re relaxed and open to new ideas.

You’ve probably read about ‘serious’ games in training, you may use them. But I'd bet that most of them are digital and offer a solitary experience for learners. No dynamic and creative group interaction.

Board games can bring that learning experience back into workplace.

Games put learning back where the work gets done. They are portable, self-contained, learner-led and don’t always need a specialist facilitator. Teams can learn more in less time, so the training will be more cost-effective. And it'll be fun.

4 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Board Games

  1. We’re hardwired to learn through play. When we’re young, we learn by playing. It’s natural, and it’s how we develop as children. And, we’re all still ‘hard wired’ for playful learning. Board games help you learn through play.
  2. Playing a game brings people together. An educational board game doesn’t just deliver learning objectives – it also helps teams work better together. They break down hierarchies and cross-border rivalries and bring staff together to enjoy themselves. Board games give players ‘permission’ to relax and enjoy being in a group; and we all learn better when we’re relaxed.
  3. It’s a face-to-face experience. A lot of modern education and training is solitary and isolating. Playing a board game is the opposite. Good games are always lively, noisy with lots of ‘banter’. The interaction, talking and collaboration all help players develop their “soft skills” and to build relationships.
  4. We learn from each other. Board games encourage sharing of knowledge and experience. Everyone playing a game has something to contribute and the game allows them to share it. Formal classroom learning can be intimidating and many people stay silent. If games are well-designed sessions are never silent.

Many organisations are already successfully using board games in their learning and development programmes. Health and social care has been using board games in staff training and engagement for many years. Board games are being played in hundreds of hospitals and care home helping staff improve care delivery and patient safety. In the private sector McDonalds Restaurants is using a board game, The Welcome Game, in their employee induction meetings. It’s an educational board game that helps new staff learn how to deliver a great customer experience, and it’s had a very positive influence.