People & Perspectives: How have you brought play to the workplace?


In every issue of PeopleTalk magazine, we ask CPHR BC & Yukon members from all across B.C. and the Yukon a question and get them to give us a brief answer. 

Today’s question: How have you brought play to the workplace?

Here are five insights on how to bring play to the workplace. 

Sharde Long
HR manager,
Victoria Women’s Transition House
Victoria, B.C.

When I worked in recreation, play was an integral piece of our team cohesion and in building our resilience as frontline staff.  As I’ve moved into other sectors I’ve always taken with me the importance of having fun together through play because of the connections this created and the relationships it built. 

In my current role, I am lucky to have a passionate and engaged executive team who believes in fostering joy in the workplace.  Our executive director is exceptional at this and often goes above and beyond by organizing Easter egg hunts, gift exchanges and costume contests throughout the year. 

The power of play in the workday often shows up in small ways, it is our personalized offices, our hallway conversations and even the occasional vehicle covered in sticky notes to celebrate a life milestone.  Fun bonds our team and buffers our resilience for the work that we support each other to show up and do. 

Sharde is the human resources manager for the Victoria Women’s Transition House.  She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria in psychology and a post degree diploma in human resources management and leadership from Camosun College.  Sharde believes in building stronger communities by bringing people together, and lives this belief through actively volunteering for both CPHR BC & Yukon as their Victoria round table host and with Leadership Victoria as the incoming VP on their board of directors.


Sofia Ariseh, CPHR
principal, Upskill Consulting
Vancouver, BC.

Work hard, but equally as important, play hard! It’s time to shift our mindset away from “work is work and play is play”. Incorporating play in the workplace allows us to engage, create and innovate.

Play at work doesn’t have to break the bank. There are simple ways to integrate more fun and play into our workday!

Make Meetings Fun: Inject some fun into meetings by encouraging creativity and collaboration through brainstorming, icebreakers and team building activities;

Introduce Contests: Nothing lightens the mood more than a little bit of friendly competition. Turning workplace initiatives into competitions increases employee engagement and involvement;

Organize Events: Team lunches or events help to build social connectedness and a greater sense of community; and

Decorate Work Spaces: Encourage employees to decorate their workspaces. It is fun, boosts morale and livens up the workplace.

Discover the power and value of merging work with play.

Sofia Arisheh, CPHR is the principal of Upskill Consulting, a human resources consulting firm offering full-scope and tailored HR services and solutions. Sofia comes with extensive experience in provincially and federally regulated companies across a wide range of industries. As a consultant, Sofia partners with clients to provide end-to-end HR support, with specialized HR services including training and capability development, performance management, employee engagement, change management, policy development, job descriptions, process improvements and on-call advisory support.


Cheryl Nakamoto, CPHR
president/managing partner,
McNeill Nakamoto Recruitment Group
Vancouver, B.C.

Our slogan—WOW, FUN, PEOPLE—really sums up the ‘McNak’ culture. I take great pride in creating an engaging, fun and light work environment for my team as we spend so much time at work that making it an easy place to be creates happy, healthy and engaged employees.

The recruitment industry is challenging and highly competitive—factors that can create a lot of stress for people. Working with some many different peoples’ demands is challenging so being mindful of ‘play’ and incorporating healthy outlets for staff is critical to our successful operation.

How do we play? Celebrating success, laughing off hard times, celebrating birthdays, getting together outside of work hours for socials, hosting potluck lunches, REALLY celebrating work anniversaries (Japanese style with lunches and thoughtful gifts at one, three and five years and thereafter), and most importantly, having fun and laughing at our own mistakes makes for a light, playful environment where staff feel safe to express themselves and confident to excel in their work.

Cheryl Nakamoto, CPHR is president and managing partner of McNeill Nakamoto (McNak) and oversees all operations, manages and leads the senior team and works on client development and strategy. Cheryl and Sarah McNeill founded the company in 1996. Cheryl always focuses on making the extra effort to learn about the person behind the professional in addition to finding the requisite skills that clients seek.


Eva Eaton, CPHR
HR/immigration consultant,
The World is My Oyster
Victoria, B.C. 

The lines of the 9-5 workday have become increasingly blurred. The benefits of play in the workday include less stress, increased problem solving capacity and team building.

Some ways play has been integrated into the work day where I have worked:

  • How much green can you wear on St Patrick’s Day with the winner getting some company swag and photo in the weekly newsletter?
  • How many toys can we donate to the Christmas Toy Mountain charity drive?
  • Bring some cookies to work that represent your family’s country of origin;
  • Celebrate wins, birthdays and anniversaries at weekly staff meetings;
  • Post photo booth photos from the western themed Christmas party as wanted posters in the non public areas of the office;
  • Appoint one person to ask team members to disclose an unusual fact about themselves; and
  • Make up a puzzle with questions to match to the answers. An old ice breaker but lots of fun.

Have fun and enjoy your colleagues too!

Eva Eaton has been a CPHR since 2007 and a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant since 2010. She returned to her hometown of Victoria, B.C. in 2017 after living and working for 16 years in Fort McMurray and Calgary with a stint in London, UK. A lifelong learner, she is a graduate of the University of Victoria, has a certificate in HR management, as well as immigration consulting. Most recently she completed the Leadership Victoria, Community Leadership Development Program.


Raluca Manolache
senior HR advisor,
Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management
Vancouver, B.C.

In an era focused on productivity and results, companies are learning about the benefits of the art of play including, but not limited to, increased happiness and engagement. For Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management (PRSHM) managing Retirement Concepts (RC), play is both ageless and healthy.

A leader in the field of retirement homes for seniors, RC started with just 55 residents in 1988, but now has nearly 3,000 residents and play is key. Recreation departments across RC communities have been hard at work ensuring that residents, tenants and family members have been engaged in purposeful and meaningful fun experiences.

RC understand that building a relationship and trust with our seniors can be done through fun activities such as therapeutic recreation and events. Leisure, recreation and play are integral components of the quality of life of our seniors and it all starts with a smile and going the extra mile. No matter which industry you are in, don’t forget to play.

Raluca Manolache is a passionate writer and HR professional who has worked for a variety of renowned companies such as CBC Radio and the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB). Currently working as a senior HR advisor for Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management (PRSHM) managing Retirement Concepts (RC), Raluca feels proud to be part of an industry leader in the field of retirement homes for seniors.



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