Playfulness: it’s not necessarily something we associate with the corporate world, where stoic seriousness is traditionally the name of the game. However, play is such an important fundamental element of creativity, learning, motivation and interpersonal engagement that it seems illogical to separate it from the work environment in the way that we traditionally have.
The LEGO Group agrees. As the world’s biggest toy company, it is perhaps to be expected that the company has made play a central element of the culture. But the tangible way in which it forms part of the employee experience is what really drives transformative results at the LEGO Group.
Thomas Møller Jeppesen is HR Director, Partnering & Operations at the LEGO Group (DNK).Here, he gives us a glimpse into the power of play as a cultural game-changer at the company.
Fun as a Fundament
From the very beginning, the transformative power of play has been understood at the LEGO Group. The core values of the company – fun, creativity, imagination, learning and caring – all tie in with play, and the company sees this as an incredible asset for building a strong company culture.
Play is fundamental in the way we learn and work together – without it, we wouldn’t have languages and cultural practices because play is a prerequisite for a child’s ability to learn. It is the LEGO philosophy that good quality play enriches a child’s life and lays the foundation for children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners.
The LEGO Group emphasises the importance of play for adults too. All too often adults undervalue or forget to play, but constructive play can allow adults to experiment, create, innovate, problem solve, find out what works, make mistakes and build bonds with one another.
Last year Forbes Magazine named LEGO the most powerful brand in the world. The company wants to leverage that power to bring out fantastic products that encourage people of all ages to play, and to ensure that the power of play is recognised as fundamental to the human experience.
Playing on Employee Experience at LEGO
At The LEGO Group, it’s “play from the first day!”. From the very first interview, LEGO employees will likely encounter the power of play. During the recruitment process, potential employees may be asked to build something, and during onboarding they will engage in building competitions with their new colleagues as a way of breaking the ice and emphasising the importance of play in the LEGO world.
Community outreach programmes allow employees to engage the wider community around play – all as part of the job. These initiatives are broad and varied – for example local school visits, events around play, city sustainability workshops, and other events that allow the employees of the LEGO Group experience the power of play and the LEGO Brick. Employees can become qualified to facilitate play sessions in their local communities – all in a drive to bring development, meaning and joy to both employees and the communities they touch.
The company holds an Annual Play Day for all LEGO employees worldwide. The organisation is closed down for a day (a huge feat for such a massive global operation!) and all employees are given the time to experience the power of play together. It’s an event that LEGO prioritises above operations so that they can emphasise the importance of play and its integral role in building an exceptional company culture.
The organisation and employees are feeling the positive results of this focus on play. The culture they’ve built around having fun, caring, imagination and creativity is tangible and special.
These initiatives give employees meaning in that they foster community engagement and a sense of being part of something bigger. The level of interconnectedness across the organisation is apparent because it is easy to build relationships around play. There is a cohesiveness and a real sense of pride that comes with building something together.
That’s the power of play!
About the Speaker
Thomas Møller Jeppesen has worked for the LEGO Group for nearly six years in various HR positions, most of them working within the field of employee engagement and business partner to product development and innovation functions. He would describe himself as an adult with a kids mind when it comes to his desire to play and learn. “You never get too old to play!”
This post originally appeared on the HR and L&D Innovation & Tech Fest Australian blog.