Popularized by hot employers like Google and Apple, game rooms have become a way for companies to boost employee engagement and attract potential talent. This kind of perk lets employees blow off steam and, as a bonus, looks undeniably cool in photos — but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every office.
Would creating an employee game room be a wise use of your limited budget? Before jumping on board or rejecting the idea outright, it’s worth considering some pros and cons.
Why a Game Room Could Work
Game rooms give your employees a place to escape the daily grind and decompress. Workplaces can be stressful. Between work stress and personal issues, your employees’ morale and productivity may be suffering.
Relaxing in a comfortable chair or playing a game for a few minutes can give a burdened employee a mental reset. Additionally, dedicating a convenient space for employees to bond and play games may help build stronger relationships and improve the overall morale and culture of the company.
It’s also a fresh way to promote work-life balance and show your staff that you make wellness and mental health priorities. When you’re giving interviewees a tour, having some visible evidence of this commitment can be a major selling point.
Why a Game Room May Not Work
All that said, game rooms aren’t a universal cure for workplace problems, and they can produce their own issues. Though creating a game room can be as simple as furnishing an unused office space with some comfy chairs and a video game console, large companies have set a precedent for extravagant game room setups. Filing a large space like a conference room with a pingpong table, foosball, pinball or other game tables will definitely make your game room stand out, but it can be costly to set aside that space, furnish it and maintain it. Keep in mind that someone has to clean up after the fun is done and keep everything stocked and in good working order.
The games themselves may also be distracting. Depending on your office setup, the sound of people playing games and chatting could bother other employees who are trying to get work done. Not to mention that some employees might find a few too many excuses to unwind, which could lead to uncomfortable conversations about productivity.
You might also find that you have four employees who are pingpong masters and dominate the table, excluding others from using the room and potentially causing friction. On the other side of the coin, there’s always a risk that the space just won’t be used at all.
How to Make One Work for You
Of course, providing a private space for your employees to unwind isn’t a bad idea — it doesn’t have to be a game room to improve employee engagement. You could easily set up a meditation space, a screen-free zone or a wellness room instead. Use information you’ve already gathered about your employees from wellness program surveys or employee satisfaction surveys to learn what your employees want. Would they enjoy a space to play games? Or would they rather have comfortable chairs, quiet music and a coffee pot? Do you have active employees who would like a room with yoga mats and healthy snacks?
Consider what your employees’ biggest sources of workplace stress are and how this room could help alleviate those pain points. Are they on the phone with customers all day? Maybe a quiet, screen-free space is best. Do they spend most of their time sitting and need encouragement to move around? Do they arrive early or work shifts that would make them appreciate a cozy nap space?
Once you have an idea of the perk that would benefit your employees the most, determine which space you can free up in your office. Look for inexpensive ways to fill the space with furniture, games or other elements, such as buying items secondhand. The goal should be to foster a supportive workplace environment where your employees feel valued. Use the resources and space you already have to design the space that works best for your budget and your employees’ needs.
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