Employee training and skill-development is key to unlocking the true potential of your workforce, with most businesses using specific programmes and internal schemes to ensure their talent is firing on all cylinders.
But by encouraging your workforce to engage in activities that put their mental ability to the test while also being fun and social, it is possible to develop their skills through alternative activities that are more engaging and effective than some traditional methods.
For example, a recent study by online casino comparison site Jackpot.co.uk has found that those who regularly play table games such as blackjack and poker can improve core workplace skills, from arithmetic to risk management.
Here are four different ways of helping your employees develop their skills while still delivering results.
1. Climb a mountain
Heavy workloads, manic schedules, impending deadlines; it’s no wonder employees are tired, stressed and overwhelmed. For many, the ability to clear their mind and focus on one task at a time until their to-do list is complete is a skill they would like to improve, but don’t often get the chance to practice.
Pilgrimage training has been used by Japanese businesses for several years now, and sees employees transported deep into the wilderness with only a map to guide them back to civilisation. The idea is to teach employees how to focus on just one thing at a time to ensure the task is completed to the best possible standard.
2. Switch off the lights
Insurance giant Allianz has pioneered a unique training method dubbed “Dialogue in the Dark” that sees a group of employees given a task such as completing a jigsaw in total darkness or without talking to each other. The aim of the game is to teach staff to think on their feet, and to work more closely as a team.
Facilitated by blind trainers, it also helps employees to adapt to unusual or unexpected situations, while providing them with a unique perspective of their own strengths and weakness, as well as those of their fellow team members.
3. Host a casino night
Games such as blackjack are very much about numbers, and players with solid numeracy skills stand the best chance of beating the house. Regular play allows employees to practice and improve their mental arithmetic, as well as the ability to remember number sequences and patterns.
To master the art of more complex games such as poker, players must also learn how to remain calm under pressure, or at least appear to be. Having the ability to switch on their poker face and think and react logically despite being under the spotlight is a key skill that transfers well to the workplace.
4. Get it wrong
A vital element of employee development is improving confidence. Whether that be for a client pitch, a speech, or simply to work more closely with others. There are thousands of ways of developing confidence, with entire books written on the subject, but one interesting technique is to ask employees to get things wrong on purpose.
People can often feel embarrassed or become self-conscious at the thought of getting something wrong in front of their colleagues. By encouraging them to get something wrong on purpose, the idea is that over time they will overcome the feeling of always having to be right, and will contribute more to meetings, brainstorms, and day-to-day office life.
While these techniques are undoubtedly effective and, perhaps most importantly, fun, they should be used alongside more traditional methods of training that can be tracked and assessed. But when traditional and alternative techniques are used side-by-side, they make for a powerful and successful combination.
About the author: Martyn Hannah is a freelance journalist, copywriter and content marketing consultant with a background in newspapers, magazines and PR.