Stress at work is a complaint faced by most employees. That playing video games between spells of work could be a stress-buster, according to a recent study, could be sweet music to most ears. Indeed, that is what Michael Rupp at the University of Central Florida, US and his team has concluded in an article published recently in The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
The study was carried out on 66 participants who were given a computer-based task to induce cognitive fatigue. They were then given a five-minute rest break. During the break, participants played a casual video game (called Sushi Cat), participated in a guided relaxation activity, or sat quietly in the testing room without using a phone or computer. The participants’ stress level, mood and cognitive performance were measured throughout the experiment.
The video game players reported feeling better after taking the break. Those who participated in the guided relaxation activity saw reductions in negative affect and distress while those who took a silent rest break reported that they felt less engaged with work and experienced worry as a result.
The study concluded that playing a casual video game, even briefly, can restore individuals’ affective abilities, making it a suitable activity to restore mood in response to stress. However, future research is needed to find activities capable of cognitive restoration.
It will be interesting to watch further research work on the subject, as it will have wide ramifications because work stress is all pervasive. A 2013 survey of 1,019 employed Americans showed that 83% reported being stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs. Poor compensation and an unreasonable workload were the top stressors. In India, 46% of the workforce in organisations suffered from some or the other form of stress, according to Optum, which provides employee assistance programmes to companies. The results were from a 2016 study with a sample size of 200,000 employees belonging to over 30 large employers.
Simple and innovative stress-busters have a huge potential in improving employee morale, job satisfaction and work productivity. And if video games can fill this gap, employees would simply love it.