For growing companies, it can be difficult to keep employees on track. Many of the popular initiatives that are currently being used by businesses include the provision of routine training and development programs, taking workers to leadership events offsite, paying for ongoing education for employees at well-known learning institutions and establishing strategic professional development plans.
There are also organizations that ascribe to the belief that a healthy body is essential for creating a healthy mind. These companies build yoga studios, juice and smoothie bars, gymnasiums and even meditation retreats, all on site. This is why now is a great time to work for an organization that truly cares!
But what if mental agility, intellectual stimulation and greater focus were all attainable at next to no cost to companies whatsoever? What if it were possible to steer the money that you invest in employee development and training programs right back into your business?
Make no mistake; I am not suggesting that you ignore the physical, emotional and mental well-being of your workers. Instead, I’m recommending a cheaper, alternative path to smarter and more efficient employees.
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All companies want to have employees who are capable of thinking outside of the proverbial box when it comes to solving common, everyday issues. Brilliant ideas, however, only come along every once in a while. Expecting genius on a daily basis could be over-reaching. Or maybe it isn’t?
Research performed in Scotland on school children show the effects that memory games and puzzles have on numerical problem solving and analytical thinking. 30 students were given memory game and puzzles to play for 15 minutes on a Nintendo DS console every other day, just before class started.
Another study group was given physical exercises to perform during the same period in order to stimulate brain activity and a third class held the position of control group. All three classes took the same mathematics test at the beginning of the 10-week study and once more at the study’s end. The results were truly remarkable.
Although every student showed some improvement in overall test scores, the greatest gains were made by the students who played memory games and puzzles. It was determined that playing puzzles increased circulation to the pre-frontal cortex and helped improve deep reasoning and logical thinking significantly.
This finding is by no means limited to young students. In fact, it isn’t even restricted to Nintendo games and complex puzzles. Even fun puzzles like Hop Hop Away and Azzle can provide comparable benefits to adults when played on a smartphone.
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Promote deeper focus and quick thinking among employees.
Many companies have a lot to do and insufficient time for getting everything done. The wealth of distractions that people face at home and work make deep concentration, task switching and multi-tasking exceedingly difficult. Research performed among non-gaming students at the Nanyang Technical University in Singapore attempted to determine the relationship between quick thinking and video games.
Multi-tasking is Difficult?
Four well-known mobile games were selected for the study – Fruit Ninja, Modern Combat, Cut the Rope and StarFront Collision. Study participants were told to play one of these four games for one hour each day for a full four weeks. Each of these games is in a totally different genre from the others and thus, each requires players to use a different set of skills.
Once the four-week experiment came to an end, all students were tested to determine whether there were any increases in executive function. The biggest improvement in executive function was attained by the group that played Cut the Rope. They saw a 33% increase in speed for task switching, became 30% faster in adapting to new circumstances and 60% better at ignoring distractions for deeper focus.
The Importance of Puzzle Games for the Brain
With all other factors remaining constant, puzzle games had a clear and very positive impact on overall mental agility. The above examples show that although game play is effective for building a stronger mind, puzzles tend to have the greatest benefits. Most people would do anything to think faster on their feet, improve their cognitive abilities and maintain a deeper level of focus. The secret to developing these qualities could be as simple as playing games like Fact Fountain, rather than speed games or complex strategy games.
So, the next time you see one of your employees playing a puzzle game on his or her smartphone, don’t tell this person off. Instead, congratulate this individual on working to achieve higher intellect. It couldn’t hurt to a solve a puzzle or two of your own as well!