Workplace mental health

Workplace mental health is far from a game, but puzzles could have a more important role to play in your employees’ welfare than you’ve ever realised.

In the past ten years, there’s been a 40% increase in mental health problems in the UK[1], and it’s a subject being talked about more and more in the workplace.

Before then, negative emotions were things companies preferred to keep in their proverbial closets. Now employers are far more conscious of workplace mental health, and aren’t afraid to put up posters about counselling hotlines, the therapeutic benefits of lunchtime walks and the life-enhancing power of mindfulness.

Of course, different organisations communicate to their people in different ways, from digital newsletters and creative experiential campaigns to tabloid-style newspapers and glossy, newsstand-style magazines.

One thing in common though is the frequent use of puzzles and similar fun, creative activities to help readers relax and ‘take a break’. So why are they so popular, even in this corporate context?

Business with pleasure

Adult puzzles are popular these days, with many retailers selling Zen-style colouring books for grown-ups designed to calm the mind and sooth the spirit after a busy day.

These books look exactly like the ones you may remember from your childhood – well, minus the Disney princesses and Donald Duck.

But what if businesses started to bring such techniques into the mainstream of their employee communication? It may sound radical at first, but what advantages could be gained for workplace mental health by communicating important information through puzzles and games?

Clearly better?

On the surface, puzzles may seem like a less direct and more long-winded way of communicating. But they have the capacity to engage readers in a different way.

Conventional pages with just text and pictures may seem clearer and more comprehensive, but they don’t work the parts of the brain that puzzles do.

Many far-sighted employers are already using the concept of gamification to engage colleagues, capitalising on the idea that such activity stimulates users’ imaginations in fresh, exciting ways.

It also helps us retain information in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by direct, instantaneous and attention-grabbing messages. Plus, puzzles increase IQ and problem-solving skills[2], which perhaps explains why 87% of workers in a recent study said that gamification has made them more productive.

So, with workplace mental health becoming more openly discussed, and organisations looking to improve the wellbeing of employees, maybe there’s a lot to be said for loosening up and embracing our playful sides.