Play is an essential aspect of human development and learning. We often associate play with children, but playfulness is also vital for adults, especially in the context of corporate education. A playful learning approach can help employees engage more effectively with new concepts and quickly acquire new skills. In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind how play builds your brain and how a playful learning approach can enhance corporate learning.

The Science Behind Play and Brain Development

Play is a complex behavior that involves a wide range of cognitive processes, including problem- solving, creativity, and social interaction. It activates many different brain areas, including the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus.
One of the key benefits of play is that it stimulates the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons. BDNF is essential for neural plasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and change in response to new experiences. Studies have shown that play can increase BDNF levels in the brain, leading to enhanced cognitive functioning and improved learning outcomes.
In addition to promoting neuroplasticity, play helps reduce stress and anxiety. When we engage in play, our brains release endorphins, which promote a sense of well-being and pleasure. That’s why employees engage in team building with a more positive and open mindset than in training sessions. And that’s precisely why we decided to make all our programs playful- to make your employees more receptive to new information and ideas.

The Benefits of a Playful Learning Approach in Corporate Learning

A playful learning approach involves using games, simulations, and other interactive activities to engage employees in deep learning. This approach can create a more enjoyable and memorable learning experience, leading to better retention and application of new knowledge and skills. Let’s take gamification and incorporating game-like elements into learning activities as an example. Gamification instantly increases engagement, motivation, and retention in many learning contexts. A study by Hamari et al. (2014) found that gamification improved the learning outcomes of a programming course by increasing students’ motivation and engagement. Another example of a playful learning approach is experiential learning, which involves learning through direct experience and reflection. Experiential learning is particularly effective for developing skills and behaviors, as it allows learners to practice and receive feedback in a safe and supportive environment. For example, a study by Kolb and Kolb (2005) found that experiential learning effectively develops leadership skills in a corporate setting

There is a long list of benefits, but briefly, a playful learning approach feels good, increases engagement, motivation, and retention, and develops essential skills and behaviors. As the world of work becomes increasingly complex and fast-paced, this learning approach can help organizations have happy and engaged employees and stay competitive.

Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). Does Gamification Work? A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification. In Proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.
Kolb, D. A., & Kolb, A. Y. (2005). Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(2), 193-212.