Disruption in HR is today's reality. The HR office isn't a spaceship demanding teamwork for survival, but the popular video game Among Us offers collaboration tips that can help HR teams thrive during times of disruption.

If you have school aged kids, nieces, nephews or grandchildren, chances are they're playing Among Us. There are lessons to be learned beyond pure entertainment, so dig in and learn how their game is YOUR game as well.

In September 2020 alone, an estimated 100 million users downloaded the game Among Us from the Android store, according to PC Gamer, and The New York Times notes that videos with the hashtag #AmongUs have received more than 13 billion views on TikTok. The skyrocketing popularity of the game is at least partly due to remote work and virtual school making digital interaction a vital social and learning outlet. The ways that we cope, connect and communicate during times of disruption are in the spotlight.

Among Us is unique in the gaming world, and it offers insights that can help your team thrive during disruptions. It fosters communication, collaboration and teamwork, and it includes lessons that translate well to engaging online interaction in the workplace.

If you're looking for fresh inspiration to get the most out of your workforce, here are four takeaways from this sci-fi mystery to consider.

1. Develop resilience for disruption in HR and business

A game of Among Us opens with between four and 10 players aboard a spaceship returning home from a mission. The team must work together on a handful of tasks, such as keeping engines running during the voyage. Each team member is designated as either a crew member or an impostor, and the goal is to identify the impostors and vote them off the ship.

The game creates a context where "players need to read personalities and determine if they're being lied to in order to win," as The New York Times notes. Reading people is an important part of navigating complex situations during periods of disruption, and it is essential to developing the resiliency needed to motivate, support and manage teams through such hard times.

Working under pressure, getting to know your colleagues and adapting to changing scenarios are all necessary to win a game of Among Us, and they are also integral to the success of effective HR exercises. In today's landscape, the military term VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) is a fitting descriptor for what many teams are dealing with.

"Resourcefulness and innovation are common in the Armed Forces," says Harris Morris, Senior Director for Veteran Initiatives at ADP. "Service members are often asked to accomplish amazing things in restrictive environments, to make do with what they have and to be creative in getting the job done."

Due to shifts brought on by the pandemic, including sudden increases in remote work, today's environment calls for a high degree of flexibility, resiliency and strategic thinking.

By playing through different scenarios in the game, players learn to identify patterns, practice implementing new approaches and improve performance over time. Are you providing your team with opportunities for scenario planning and cross-training? Ensuring that flexibility and adaptation are highlighted in your organization's HR exercises can improve the resiliency of your team and help them navigate situations that require careful communication and thoughtful decision making.

2. Focus on concise communication

As players run around the ship conducting repairs and other tasks, they are unable to communicate with each other. Later in the game, there is a limited window where individuals can share what they know with others to identify the impostors. Among Us is a great training ground to explore the need for clear, targeted and concise communication that gets to the essential facts. Much like players of the game, HR representatives have an incentive to avoid long-winded, irrelevant stories and get their crewmates quickly back on task.

"When it's time to deliver an effective communication strategy, don't stray from the big picture," explains Mary Schafer, Vice President, Change Management and Communications, ADP Strategic Advisory Services. "Concise, consistent and creative messaging is the key to unlocking (and grabbing) your audience's attention as well as getting the awareness and adoption needed to support your initiatives."

Improving communication is an ongoing challenge, as professionals in all lines of work are always aiming to write better emails and hold fewer, more efficient meetings. What steps can you take to help improve your team's communication skills? Implementing shorter meeting frameworks with targeted goals can help cultivate focus, and coaching employees to prioritize streamlined presentation of the most important information can help keep virtual meetings on task.

By promoting focused and concise communication skills across your organization, you can help your entire workforce develop the soft skills needed to improve their teamwork and convey business-critical information in a timely fashion.

3. Add new dimensions to your digital experience

Due to the sharp increase in remote work, teams are finding ways to socialize and establish strong connections from a distance. Interacting via Zoom can start to feel static, so HR leaders and business managers should explore new ways to foster collaboration and team building. Among Us offers some interesting strategies to consider for creating hands-on, engaging digital interactions.

For instance, the power of real-time collaboration is critical to mission success. To that end, emerging platforms such as virtual whiteboards and mind-mapping software can help teams work together on documents, idea generation and task completion. A business model where associates must complete their work independently and then come together to discuss it in meetings could be enhanced by adopting a more cooperative approach to online work. Doing so will likely improve the digital work experience, as well as the quality and quantity of output.

Another point Among Us highlights is that focused collaboration can help individuals better understand their teammates. If HR and business leaders can the take time to understand their people and the challenges they face, they will be better positioned to motivate greater performance across the team and accomplish the task at hand.

4. Up your game with community and content

One of the factors driving the continued popularity of Among Us is its strong sense of community. Among Us videos are shared on platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Steam, while a plethora of memes helps to keep it in the public consciousness. There are always ways to build enthusiasm and tap into a sense of belonging and group identity within your community. HR leaders should provide community building opportunities and content to help forge a stronger sense of connection, which can be especially important in times of disruption in HR.

Are you using community and content to maximum effect? While building internal culture might not generate the same unfettered enthusiasm as a video game, HR can organize Q&As with organization executives, lunch and learns, or themed socializing events to help colleagues feel like they are part of an inclusive and engaged community.

Reinforcing the importance of employee engagement, Bob Lockett, ADP's Chief Diversity and Talent Officer, says, "In my experience, organizations that don't pay attention to engagement typically cannot sustain high levels of performance. Successful organizations understand at a fundamental level that if you take care of your associates, they will take care of your clients, and your clients will reward you with continued business."

Although it may seem unlikely that a video game could improve HR leadership skills, there's a lot to learn from Among Us. Consider downloading the game and firing up a session. It may inspire a new take on team building that helps you reimagine the digital employee experience at your organization.

Get more insights by downloading our guidebook: Driving HR Strategy for a Future-Ready Business

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