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Employee Engagement: Chop Wood, Fetch Water

David Zinger - Employee Engagement Speaker

15 Great Employee Engagement and Work Cartoons You Can Use

15 Work Cartoons to Make Your Day

EEN Junson Cartoon E-book

My friend and resident Employee Engagement Network cartoonist, John Junson has created an e-book with 15 free cartoons that you can use for work. Pass it along to a colleague. Use it in a presentation. Pin one cartoon to your wall or cubicle. Choose one a month and put it in your newsletter. Stress is a staff infection and humour is contagious so use the humor here to fight stress at work.

If you would like to download a PDF of this book click on the image above or, click here.

Here is a slide presentation of the cartoons for quick viewing:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who appreciates the lighter side of work.

10 Second Employee Engagement Survey: Where Should We Focus Our Efforts in 2015?

Take 10 seconds or less to complete this one question survey. Thank you for your response.
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Employee Engagement: Good is the New Great

Why good is good enough in employee engagement.

Reading time = 1 minute.


We need to keep things simple and real with employee engagement. I think when we move to superlatives such as great work and exceptional engagement we create a credibility gap and a trust issue. I have been in a number of workplaces that declared they were great workplaces yet many employees tell me it is not as great as they say.

My definition of employee engagement is short, real, and simple:

Good work done well with others every day.

Good work is both believable and attainable and sustainable. When we strive for good we will at time touch great or exceptional. I will take consistent good days of work over a few great days anytime. I also like how good work done with both intention and consistency will at times touch greatness.

I like good in reference to employee engagement because it refers to both the adjective of good or the quality of work and the noun of good about the benefit of the work. I like work that is of good quality and is good on many levels for employees, customers, and the organization.

I hope you have a good day of work that is also good for others.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert striving to do good work every day.

Employee Engagement: 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness

How not to be grumpy at work (or in the rest of your life)

Reading time = 13 minutes

Download a PDF of this article: 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness by David Zinger


grump·y ˈgrəm-pē\ : easily annoyed or angered : having a bad temper or complaining often : sulky, bad-tempered, crabby, ill-tempered, short-tempered, crotchety, tetchy, testy, waspish, prickly, touchy, irritable, irascible, crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, bearish, surly, ill-natured, churlish, ill-humored, peevish, pettish, cross, fractious, disagreeable, snappish, grouchy, snappy, cranky, shirty, ornery

Do you find yourself being grumpy at work or grumpy with other people?

Some people have told me that I’m grumpy; it’s not something that I’m aware of. It’s not like I walk around poking children in the eye…not very small ones, anyway. ~Dylan Moran

My father was an executive for a Canadian railway but as a young boy I would sit around the dinner table and hear his grumpy ramblings and rants about work and the organization. Much of it was disheartening and the cumulative effect was to cause me to lose an appetite for work if working resulted in being grumpy even when you are at home with your wife, three children, and a hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Dad inadvertently convinced me never to work for someone else because you will end up being grumpy (more on this later — how you can work with an organization rather than for an organization).

Preventing or intervening in grumpiness is more important than being happy. It is important not to be grumpy at work because bad is almost 3 times as powerful as good. As Roy Baumeister, a noted researcher on psychological experiences, and others stated in a landmark article entitled Bad is Stronger than Good:

The greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major life events (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network patterns, interpersonal interactions, and learning processes. Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good.

We may get more return in both relationships and results by investing more energy into the 22 tools not to be grumpy rather than striving blindly towards the elusive pursuit of eternal happiness in our daily toil. Instead of don’t worry be happy, we need to realize that it is okay to worry, not to be happy, but we can still avoid letting ourselves be grumpy about it. In all probability, you will encounter an equal number of blisters and blissful events at work.

I am now 60 years old and I have glimpsed the early warning signs of an aging lapse into becoming a grumpy old man. I swore I would never become one of those grumpy old guys and I am pleased to report that I am aware of being grumpy when I feel it, I don’t let grumpiness last, and I have developed 22 ways to not be grumpy while I work. By the way, I plan to work until I am 75 and I believe not being grumpy will be a major contributor to my work longevity.

I don’t promise that these ways will prevent you from ever feeling grumpy at work but I do believe they will

  • ensure that you are mindful of being grumpy,
  • your grumpiness will not be as severe or intense,
  • grumpiness will not last as long, and
  • you will be equipped to prevent much of your grumpiness before it festers from an emotional state into a rigid way of being.

An invitation. If you know someone else at work who is grumpy I encourage you to invite them to read this article, just watch out that they don’t get even grumpier because you told them they were grumpy. It is ironic but grumpy people are often quite sensitive about being grumpy.

I think some of Bob Sutton’s bad bosses, outlined in his brilliant book, The No Asshole Rule, are at least partly that way because they don’t monitor, manage, master, or transform their own grumpiness.

22 Anti-Grumpy Tools

(1) Know your G-spots. Your G-spots are the spots, interactions, thoughts and triggers that make you grumpy. Perhaps it is being thwarted in an action or maybe being snubbed or not getting enough sleep. Catch these triggers before they catch you and cause you to sink into a grumpy funk. Use foresight and anticipation to avoid those triggers that are avoidable.

(2) Be mindful of the roots of your grumpiness. Grumpiness does something to you and it may also do something for you. What is the benefit of being grumpy? What is the source of being grumpy? Does getting to the root cause offer you insight or perspective on constructive actions you can take? In this way rather than being triggered into grumpiness you are using the experience of being grumpy as a trigger to take constructive action to address the root cause.

(3) Assume the best intentions of other people. Before you create a negative melodrama at work about what she said or what he did, start by assuming best intentions about the behavior of others. Just because you start with good intentions does not mean that you have to stay there but begin with good intentions and ask questions or hold a conversation to check out other people’s behavior. Assuming best intentions will stop a downward grumpy spiral and pave the pathway to more constructive action.

(4) Hit the pause button for 90 seconds. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a very engaging brain researcher who studied her own stroke from the inside out, suggested that the shelf life of an emotion is 90 seconds. Yet many of us seem to hold on to an emotion for years if not the rest of our lives. Give yourself 90 seconds from the moment you feel grumpy before you act on that emotion. Also know that you must feed your grumpiness every 90 seconds to keep it alive. We feed it with fragments of tragic stories, feelings of being wronged, and a multitude of micro, almost unconscious mechanisms, to keep being grumpy. If you remain grumpy ninety seconds after the initial emotion it may be valuable to ask yourself: “How am I feeding my grumpiness to keep it alive?”

(5) Drop your sense of entitlement. You are not entitled. When you think you are entitled and you do not receive the expected entitlements it tends to create grumpiness. I don’t care if you have been working 30 years or you have a big office or you are a new hire with exaggerated expectations…just drop the sense of entitlement and watch your grumpy meter also drop.

(6) Steer clear of energy suckers. Grumpiness can be a staff infection. Avoid Debbie Downer, Nellie Negative, Peter Pouty, and Arty Angry. Who you hang out with can kindle and ignite your grumpiness or add fuel to the fire of your negative state. In addition, ensure that you don’t become one of those energy suckers, when you are inflicted with the grumpy staff infection it is advisable to experience and express it in isolation to lessen the spread of contamination to others.

(7) Do something for someone else. Grumpiness tends to be a very self-absorbed state of mind and emotions. Get out of your self-focused shell and do something for someone else even if you don’t feel like it. Often emotions and attitudes follow behavior so don’t wait to feel altruistic to act altruistically. You just might find that your grumpiness is diminished after an act of kindness or caring.

(8) Know that you work with an organization not for an organization. We often feel impotent and useless when we believe we are at the bottom of the pyramid or at the mercy of someone else’s whims about work. Our words and metaphors around upper management, front lines, and report up, create and sustain a sense of being subservient when you are an employee. We are equal in our humanity within the organization and there is no “real” up or down, top or bottom. Stop believing that you work for someone or for an organization. Turn yourself into a partner by knowing and acting in ways that demonstrate that you work with others not for them.  Your sense of competence and confidence can be a great antidote to grumpiness and may also improve your working relationships.

(9) Fixate on a specific task for the next 15 minutes. Stop all the internal chatter and external negative behavior that swirls around being grumpy. Find a task and work with your full focus on it for the next 15 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or watch for 15 minutes. When the timer chimes after 15 minutes of time check back into your grumpiness…you might be amazed how often it has dissipated if not completely disappeared.

(10) Cease your shallow or simplistic characterizations of others and even yourself.  Avoid the miserable mental gymnastics of seeing people as good guys or bad guys, or helpless pawns. You are not a victim, there are very few real villains at work, and stop pretending there is nothing you can do about your situation beyond feeling grumpy and ranting incessantly about how bad it is.

(11) Seize the next moment. Ask yourself what you can do in the next moment to stop being so grumpy, you don’t have to be happy just shift from reverse into neutral.

(12) Neutralize the neural almond brothers with a question. The amygdalae are the two small almond shaped parts of the brain that are the source of much emotion and drive towards action. When you are grouchy there is a good chance the amygdalae are running the brain – these “almond brothers” are not good drivers for your life or your work. Because the amygdala is not a language center you can remove them from the driver’s seat by asking yourself a question. When you transform your judgement into curiosity with a good question it can transform your grumpiness. By the way, there are good questions and bad questions. A bad question for a person who is grouchy is a judgemental, “what’s wrong with those people?” A good question is: “how can I look at this differently to short circuit my grouchiness?”

(13) Expect setbacks and unfairness. Teresa Amabile and her husband, Steven Kramer, demonstrated that the single biggest source of daily disengagement for knowledge workers is setbacks. We need to expect the inevitability of setbacks while not sinking into grouchiness when they occur. A setback does not in and of itself create upset. We can learn from setbacks, we can experience the loss without getting grumpy, we can bond with others, and we can have resolve to keep going. I love watching professional tennis players like Serena Williams or Novak Djokvic bounce back after a bad call or a double fault. It is inspiring to watch a figure skater fall in a major program at the Olympics and get right back on their feet and land a quad. You maintain your edge when you stay sharp and avoid becoming edgy when things don’t go right.

(14) Grow out of a fixed mindset. The gestalt of grumpiness is based on our mindset. Carol Dweck encourages us to distinguish between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Know that being right all the time is wrong even if you are right. In the fixed mindset, every situation calls for a confirmation of your intelligence, personality, or character. The growth mindset focuses on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts and you can change and grow through effort and experience. If you want to fix a grumpy mindset you need to believe you can grow out of it.

(15) Just see what you can do. You don’t have to be part of the mass of people who live lives of quiet desperation or be over the top brimming with positivity. I am not a fan of the positive thinking that is similar to putting a coat of paint on a wall to hide a broken foundation. Bad things happen. I have had more than my fill of positivity and at times of struggle or strain it can be okay just to shift into neutral. When my youngest son was an 8-year old hockey goalie, he aced the idea of being neutral. He knew he would get scored on and it would never bother him or be a source of post game grumpiness. I asked him how he mentally prepared to go into the net before each game and he told me he just said to himself, “I will see what I can do.” I loved his statement; it was neutral, open, curious, and constructive. Tomorrow when you go to work I encourage you to just go in to “see what you can do.” Of course, watch out if someone shoots a puck at you!

(16) Don’t let being skeptical lapse into being cynical. I love working with skeptics. They are the best people to conduct experiments with. But there is a fine line between being a healthy skeptic and a grumpy cynic. I believe that a cynic is often locked into a negative view and is not open to having their grouchy beliefs and declarations disputed and challenged. Here is the short test to determine if you have moved from skeptic to cynic: Can you be skeptical about your cynical beliefs and thoughts? If you can, skepticism can be a primary pathway out of grumpiness.

(17) Drop your grouchy security blanket and face your fears. Being grouchy for an extended period of time begins to feel like a toxic security blanket. It feels familiar and it may even feel safe. But what this toxic security blanket often covers are your fears. Fear may be one of the primary root causes of grumpiness. Start to examine your grumpiness as a mask for fear and see what is behind it. Do you fear being wrong, being left behind, not belonging, unable to handle setbacks and challenges, your future at work, being successful, failing at your work, interacting with someone in authority, or a host of other potential fears masked by grumpiness. It might be helpful to have a friend, family member, coach, or counsellor create a safe relationships as you hold a conversation to uncover and move through the fears masked by grumpiness. Dr. David Martin from the University of Manitoba, one of my counselling educators, helped me learn that the only way to overcome a fear is to experience it while also feeling safe and that the safety found in a supportive and understanding relationship was the mechanism that extinguished the fear

(18) Transform engagement in grumpiness into engaged working. It takes a lot of energy to be grumpy. Unfortunately it is a constant energy drain for yourself and others. Energy is the raw material of employee engagement. If you let go of some of the grumpiness you may be left with energy to engage more fully in your work.  This use of energy often results in an energy gain as opposed to an energy drain and as you learn to fully engage in work you may also fully experience how work makes us well.

(19) Discover empathy as an antidote to grumpiness. Empathy is our ability to understand others, to see the world from their perspective, to walk in their shoes. It is not just an expression of mushy emotion, it is the courage to leave our own views and perspectives behind as we fully understand another person. For many people who are grumpy, empathy is a rare commodity. Empathy can crack the hard and brittle shell of grumpiness. And as Leonard Cohen sang, there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

(20) Challenge yourself towards gritty, real and authentic optimism. We too often confuse optimism as shallow positive thinking. Martin Seligman taught me that optimists see bad events, they are not naive and superficial thinkers. After a bad event, rather than gravitate towards grumpy, optimistic people view the bad event as temporary, specific, and they don’t blame themselves or others for what occurred. They recover, they are resilient, they bounce back and they are less grumpy. Embrace a sense of impermanence after a bad event and you will move away from grumpiness towards equanimity.

(21) Give yourself fully to one grumpy day. Take one day a year to get fully into your inner grumpiness. Exaggerate it. Maybe you can find and wear an Oscar the Grouch costume and let your expressions of grumpiness permeate each moment and every relationship for the entire day. Or you could be Grumpy, one of the seven dwarfs in Snow White. I bet you will find it a difficult challenge to be grumpy all day as you wear one of those costumes and you get exhausted continually cursing others and your fate. You might even end up seeing the humor of it. Those who laugh have a hard time making grumpiness last. A Chinese beatitude points the way: blessed are those who can laugh at themselves they shall never cease to be entertained.

Oscar the Grouch

(22) Anticipate the benefits of being grumpy-free. Other people will not avoid you by ducking into the nearest cubicle when they see you walking towards them. You will have stronger relationships at work and at home. Your team will probably be stronger and accomplish more. You may look forward to work with anticipation rather than dread. You will probably show up to each moment with more energy, awareness, connection, and caring. There is a good chance work will be an energy gain not merely an exhausting energy drain. You won’t bring the nastiness of work home with you, and you and your family can truly be nourished by a hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs topped with caring conversations.

A bigger okayElisabeth Kübler-Ross who knew more about death and dying and how to live than anyone else I know once offered a short mantra on how to be okay even when things are not okay:

I am not okay, you are not okay, and that is okay.

Let your harrumph become a heartfelt hurrah. If you choose to dwell in grumpiness know that you will never fully experience the possibility that work can make you well. When you decide to stop being grumpy you will experience more space in your life for real joy, happiness, and well-being. Bad does not have to trump good when we get good at 22 tools to overcome, manage, or master grumpiness. Overcoming grumpiness can transform your last harrumph into your next hurrah!

To download a PDF version of this post, click here.

. . .

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Canada who works around the world on leadership, management, engagement, well-being, and work. He has encountered many grumpy people during his sixty years. He is firm in his resolve to not become a grumpy old man while also helping others use the 22 uplifting tools and levity to overcome their downward gravitational pull towards grumpiness.

Employee Engagement: How to Make a Small, Simple, Significant, Strategic and Sustainable Difference

The 4 Enablers of Employee Engagement Made Simple

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

My passion and pursuit of employee engagement has taken over 14,000 hours yet resulted in me striving to make employee engagement small and simple. For example, my definition of engagement is just 8 words: good work done well with others every day. Although this is a simple definition of engagement, it does not mean that it is easy, yet I do believe it is attainable. This simple yet elegant definition avoids a lot of the excess jargon floating around employee engagement — which is itself a part of that jargon.

I admire the work of the Engage for Success Movement in the UK. I consider David MacLeod to be a friend and I am enriched by everyone who has been involved in the movement. One element that stood out for me from their work was using the term enablers rather than drivers or levers. It seemed real, kind, and more engaging.

Here is a short explanation of the four enablers from the Engage for Success Site:

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and no master model for successful employee engagement there were four common themes that emerged from the extensive research captured in the Engaging For Success report to government (also known as the MacLeod Report). Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement.

These four enablers of engagement have proved to be useful lenses which can help organisations assess the effectiveness of their approaches.

Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.

Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people.

There is employee voice throughout the organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.

There is organisational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap.

To me that simply means good story, good managers, good voice, and good ethics. Surely that is within reach in every organization. I am not revising the four enablers rather offering a simple image and 8 words to make it memorable and then actionable.

4 Enablers of Employee Engagement

I don’t need a great story or great managers or great voice or even great ethics. To me, good is good enough. In the next post I will outline a few good behaviors and actions that contribute to good story, managers, voice, and ethics.

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is working around the globe to make work, work!

The Employee Engagement Network is 7 Years Old Today

Seven Years of Employee Engagement with David Zinger

It started 7 years ago on a very cold Saturday in Winnipeg. I wanted a few people to network with on the topic of employee engagement. Today is our seventh anniversary!

We have gone from 1 to 6515 members and have a member in just about every country in the world.

We have gone through many changes but I am proud that we are still such an excellent resource for anyone interested in employee engagement. I can’t wait to see what the next 7 years brings to the field of engagement. I am honored to have founded and host such a terrific engagement resource.

Visit us by clicking on the image below or the following link:

EEN at 7 Years

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert. He founded and hosts the 6515 member Employee Engagement Network.

Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being: Does Work Make You Well?

Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. ― Studs Terkel.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

I believe engaged work and well-being is the pathway of life-work infusion. Ensure that life infuses your work and that your work infuses your life so that you are able to thrive and sustain both your work and well-being. We need to see work and life more holistically and abandon the antiquated thinking of separation and balance.

I believe the pathway to this is less than 10 blocks away. Use the pyramid of engagement for both work and well-being so that you achieve results, master performance, experience progress, build relationships, recognize others and self-recognize, make the most of moments, use your strengths in the service of others and yourself everyday, create meaning in your life and work, work so that work makes you well, and that at the end of the day you experience your overall life and working life more as an energy gain than an energy drain.

If work is not making you well than start building your personal and work pyramid of engagement today.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert focused on both employee engagement and engaged well-being to achieve full and authentic life-work infusion.

7 Employee Engagement Questions to Keep Your Work Fresh Every Day of the Week

Questions are the new answers to increase and improve employee engagement

Enjoy my latest slide presentation on 7 daily questions for employee engagement.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement: What’s Your Purpose?

Reading time = 27 seconds

Zinger Engagement Purpose Statement


Transform information, questions, and conversation into thoughtful action, thereby assisting organizations and individuals to fully engage in achieving meaningful results while building robust relationships.

As I thought about my purpose in being involved in employee engagement the above statement felt both true and desirable.

Do you have an employee engagement purpose?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert devoted to the topic and ensuring engagement occurs for the benefit of all.

See For Yourself: Be Experimental with Employee Engagement in 2015

Experiment with Employee Engagement in 2015

Reading time: 2 minutes and 18 seconds

Recognition BW

I encourage you to make 2015 a year of experimentation for employee engagement. Help your leaders, managers, and employees become more scientific in their adoption and work with engaging approaches.

Let’s move from the dated and proverbial best case to test case. Develop testable hypotheses about what can make a difference in improving engagement for an individual, a team, a department, or even the organization. Run short experiments to test out your ideas and either fail fast or scale quickly.

I am reading Karen Maezen Miller little book on zen (hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life) and I appreciate her pithy summation of the Buddha’s teaching as: See for yourself. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not asking you to become a Buddhist, I am asking you to start seeing for yourself as opposed to waiting for directives from a consulting company.

In the December 2014 Harvard Business Review magazine Stefan Thomke and Jim Manzi wrote an article on The Discipline of Business Experimentation. Thomke and Manzi wrote about experimentation on a larger and more innovative scale for organizations but much of what they wrote would apply to small scale experiments in employee engagement:

In an ideal experiment the tester separates an independent variable (the presumed cause) from a dependent variable (the observed effect) while holding all other potential causes constant, and then manipulates the former to study changes in the latter. The manipulation, followed by careful observation and analysis, yields insight into the relationships between cause and effect, which ideally can be applied to and tested in other settings.

Here is a page from my Employee Engagement Masterclass to help you “see for yourself” and experiment with employee engagement. This is part of a workbook that was used in masterclasses on employee engagement in Singapore and Dubai in 2014:

Employee Engagement Mastercall Experimental Page

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert devoted to helping organizations and individuals become more experimental with employee engagement in 2015.


Employee Engagement Gratitude From David Zinger

Thank you and all the best in employee engagement in 2015

Harry Wyatt Snow Falling

This is a picture taken from my office window yesterday.

It has been a pleasure to travel around the world in 2014 working on employee engagement and it is a a treasure to be home. I am so grateful for how much I learned about employee engagement this year from people in Singapore, Dubai, St. John’s Newfoundland, Washington DC, and so many other locations. I also learned so much from all of you who are talking about employee engagement online.

All the best as we move forwards and towards 2015.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.


Are you with it? The Top 1 Post of Employee Engagement for 2014

Stop the clutter of Top 10’s and find the focus of Top 1!

It is that time of year when so many sites are letting you know about their top 10 posts of 2014. In my mind, that is nine posts too many. We need more simplicity and less clutter of content marketing.

So, instead of 10 posts here is a link to my favorite post of 2014: Get with it: Are you ready for Employee Engagement 2015? It take under two minutes to read but can sustain your engagement efforts for all of 2015.

What are you waiting for? Get with it.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert striving do get simpler and use less to do more.

An Employee Engagement Journey Lesson from Dubai and the UAE

Employee Engagement Conference and Master Class Reflections

Dubai Sky Line

I recently travelled to Dubai for an employee engagement conference. I offered the opening keynote and provided a five hour master class after the conference. My thanks to Ramy Bayyour from Informa for the invitation and the conference.

There are quite a number of things that stood out for me and over a series of posts I will outline some key lessons.

The employee engagement journey. It was a long trip from Winnipeg Canada to Dubai UAE and return. Fittingly, the first thing that really stood out for me is the employee engagement journey metaphor for organizations and individuals. Masoud Golshani-Shirazi Vice Presiden HR from Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company referred to the journey directly during his holistic presentation onf employee engagement. I was impressed by the progress and resilience Aujan has had in its workforce and the idea of engagement being a work journey for employees to join with the organization.

Masoud Golshani-Shirazi

Masoud shared with us the wisdom of his grandmother who declared, “if you want to get to know someone travel with them.” Thank you Masoud, it was good to hear about the journey of engagement and the wisdom of your grandmother.

Here are my 4 points as I thought about the employee engagement journey:

  • Understand that different tools and pathways are required at different steps along the journey – surveys are not good nor bad, it is what we do with them that make all the difference.
  • The engagement journey does not have a final destination, it evolves as we keep moving forward or even stumble with setbacks.
  • Encourage employees to fully participate in planning and embarking on the journey, employees are not just along for the ride.
  • Journeys are about movement and ensure your engagement work does not become static.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who keeps journeying around the globe to learn more about engagement and help all of us as we journey together for increased, fuller, and more authentic employee engagement.


Employee Engagement: How to Make Your Day by Finding Your UP

What’s your UP?

Find Your UP

Enjoy David’s latest slide presentation on finding your UP:

Here is a link to the slideshare if it does not appear in this window.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who feel very up about work and well-being.

Employee Engagement: The Free Iatrogenic Disengagement E-Book

Employee Engagement: Let’s guard against creating disengagement in our efforts to improve employee engagement.

Iatrogenic Disengagement Book Cover

(Reading & Viewing Time =  2 minutes and 41 seconds)

Iatrogenic disengagement is the disengagement caused by trying to measure or increase engagement. It is often unintentional and frequently goes unnoticed. I am offering you two resources to help stop iatrogenic disengagement where you work. The first is a one minute video on the topic. The other resources if a slide presentation that can also be downloaded as an e-book. Use these resourses to increase awareness and stimulate conversation about iatrogenic disengagement where you work.

A video introduction:

Iatrogenic Disengagement from David Zinger on Vimeo.

The slides (e-book) resource.

If you prefer a PDF e-book version, click on this title or the image of the cover at the start of this article: Iatrogenic Disengagement e-book

David Zinger is a global employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement: What’s Your Verb?

7 Ways to Make  Use of the  37 Verbs of Employee Engagement

Reading and Viewing Time: 1 minute, 22 seconds.

What's Your Veb

Below is a visual slide show with 37 verbs for employee engagement.

Here are 7 ways you can use this slideshow:

  1. Scan the slides for 37 seconds of inspiration to start your day.
  2. Pass on the slides to a coworker to make their day.
  3. Download the slides to use in advance of an employee engagement presentation.
  4. Show the slides to a training group and have them generate their own verbs.
  5. Create a personalized deck of your own engagement verbs.
  6. View if on your smartphone or tablet while waiting for a meeting to begin.
  7. Answer the question: what’s your verb?

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who brings engagement alive through behaviors and actions. His 3 word theme for 2014/2015 is the repetition of the verb engage.

Employee Engagement Gamification For Work and Well-being Made Simple

Are you game for a simple approach to improve engagement with work and well-being? 10 Lessons for Gamification.

Based on David Zinger’s personal experience this post offers you a simple and lean approach to using gamification for engagement. Although it is an experiment with just one person it offers some tangible evidence of how gamification can improve both work and well-being and how an experiment can help us improve the process of gamification. The post also offers you a glimpse into gamification based on a real experience and offers you a pathway to gamification that can be conducted at almost zero cost and does not require a training course to implement.

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Year of Points button

At times, I have struggled to start major projects. At times, I find that either my work or well-being begins to wane. At times, I wonder what I have accomplished. At times, I wonder if drudgery (as I define it) can be used to enhance well-being. At times, I wonder if my childhood love of pinball has any relevance for my work and well-being. This lead me to the conclusion that the time was right to personally experiment with the gamification of work and well-being. I believe we should never ask anyone to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves and I know I had advocated for the place of gamification in work and well-being.

It is interesting to me that although I am self-employed I can be disengaged. We often fail to see the disengagement of the self-employed when we believe organizations are responsible for engagement. There were also times that I let my efforts towards personal well-being languish. I needed some structural help with my work and well-being and decided that the gamification of these two key elements of my life could be helpful. I have been amazed at just how helpful this has been.

  • I am more productive.
  • I have eliminated most procrastination around big projects.
  • I enjoy my work more.
  • I found well-being in doing housework and Costco shopping, two activities I previously loathed.
  • I have triggered additional social contribution/donations.

Overall, I learned that games are so much more than just a trivial pursuit.

During 2014, I have been conducting a one year experiment on the gamification of work and well-being. In fact, some of the work goes back to 2012 with an elaborate approach to planning, monitoring, and measuring my work and well-being. Although many people play games as diversions from work I was more interested in applying the principle of games to be help me immerse more fully into both my work and well-being.

I continue to use a gamified approach to my work and well-being but I have greatly simplified the process and procedures.

Two factors were at play in the evolutionary simplicity. The first was my overall approach to employee engagement and work being based on the principles of: small, simple, significant, sustainable, and strategic. I must practice what I teach. I realized that my game was too elaborate and time consuming and needed to be simpler and smaller to be sustainable.

I believe that in our “crazybusy” lives that small is the new significantJane McGonigal, one of the world’s leading experts on gamification, states that, overall, games have four traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. Everything else is extra.

The second influence was the publication of my May cover story for ASTD’s Training and Development Magazine: Game On: A Primer on Gamification for Managers. In that article I shared a gamification approach used by Charles M Schwab from over 100 years ago (gamification is a lot older and simpler than many people think!)

Charles M. Schwab, the American steel magnate, in the early 1900s wrote about the practice of gamification in Succeeding With What You Have. He recounted the following story.

Schwab was concerned about production in one of his steel mills and asked the day foreman for the production number, or “heats” produced, by the day shift. It was six, so Schwab grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote a large number six on the floor. The night shift saw the number and asked about the meaning of it. Upon hearing that Schwab had put down six for the productivity of the day shift, the night shift competed hard and, based on their productivity, they erased the number before morning and put down seven.

The day shift, getting into the “game,” completed 10 heats and very quickly this mill, formerly the poorest producer, was turning out more than any other mill in the plant. With minimal application of a goal, rules, feedback system, and voluntary participation, the “game” greatly enhanced the productivity of this workforce more than a century ago. Who would have thought that Schwab was an early work-gamification designer even if he never used the word?

I realized how lean and simple gamification could really be. Just because there are lots of bells and whistles or huge epic massive multi-player online quests does not mean you need these things to have a good game. Gamification for work and well-being must be designed with the purpose you have in mind. Here were my 6 purposes:

  1. to bring a concrete daily focus to work and well-being
  2. to improve and get better with both my work and well-being
  3. to approach my work and well-being from a playful perspective and blur the lines between work and play
  4. to apply gamification to monitor and heighten the experience of progress while diminishing the disengagement of setbacks
  5. to ensure engaged work and well-being was triggered multiple times every day
  6. to have my results be bigger than myself by triggering a social contribution based on points accumulated through play

It was time for me to remove and reduce the extraneous bells and whistles in my game and thereby strengthen its focus, power, and purpose. The next two images show the evolution of the game from what it was to what it is. A short description about the game is above each image.

Version 1: This is the initial version of the game. The game board was a fresh PowerPoint slide created each day.  It had lots of colors and moving parts. There were goals, points, bonus points, and a hive like structure. I filled in the hive cells with every 24 minutes of work or wellbeing once achieved (yellow for work and green for well-being).  I thought it might make a nice mobile app but I began to wonder if it could not be a lot simpler. In addition, the Pomodoro technique that I discovered the third year into my experiment has already built apps that can be used for this purpose. Sometimes I seemed to be spending more time on the game dynamics than time on meaningful work and well-being.

Version 2: Below is  a scanned page from my current gamification of work and well-being. In some ways, it hardly looks like a game at all yet it elegantly fulfills my 6 purposes. The game board is a physical notebook, completed by hand and and I experienced a power and trigger in having a very tangible game book that I can carry around. I reduced the time periods of work and well-being from 24 minutes to 15 minute increments – this makes it easier to start each period, knowing I only have to go for 15 minutes (I have learned how much can be done with just 15 minutes — it still amazes me). I also experienced how refreshing a nap of just 15 minutes could be. Each 15 minute period awards 15 points which translates to a social donation of one cent a point. Yes, this is not a large amount of money but I found if the amount was 10 cents a point it did not work as well as one cent a point. For example, on Thursday October 30 I donated $100.40 to the Red Cross to support Ebola work based on work and well-being points accumulated over the past two months.

Sample Page from Work and Well-being Gamification Experiment

Sample Page from Work and Well-being Gamification Experiment

Here are 10 lessons learned from a year a gamification. I trust these could be helpful to you if you are thinking of gamifying your work or well-being:

  1. Just start, because in the starting the learning begins
  2. Games don’t have to be complex to be powerful
  3. Games can be more than escape, they can immerse you into your own work and well-being
  4. Experience is still one of the greatest teachers and don’t be afraid to change or modify things as you go along
  5. Always think about the purpose or the intent of the game and don’t let the game divert you from your purpose
  6. Never overlook the power of elegant simplicity
  7. Take ownership of your game design because you will then get exactly what you want and need
  8. Games can be a terrific mechanism to help us navigate through setbacks and progress or our real life game of snakes and ladders
  9. Gamification can contribute to social responsibility and contribution
  10. My gamification was used to create this post. It took seven 15-minute periods and it will contribute $1.05 towards a social contribution.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who believes we must practice what we teach. His love of pinball at sixteen is paying dividends in his gamification of work and well-being at 60.

A 21-Point Employee Engagement Manifesto

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything

Heart Diamond Engagement

Have you taken a stand on employee engagement? I wrote this manifesto to declare my beliefs and practices for employee engagement. I invite you to read it, to reflect upon the statements, to act upon the statements that make sense to you, and to determine your own stand on employee engagement.

Here is the beginning of the manifesto:

Our current practices and approaches to employee engagement are failing. They are failing to achieve organizational results and most employees fail to experience the benefits of their own engagement. These failures may result in widespread abandonment of employee engagement. This is intolerable and unacceptable as engagement has the potential to create excellent experiences of working for individuals fused with organizations capable of creating robust results. Let’s work together to ensure we avoid the loss from a failure to engage!

Read this new 21-point manifesto outlining my core beliefs, principles, and actions to improve employee engagement and work. Notice that each item is a verb directed towards action. These are strong declarations. You will discover where I stand on the major elements of engagement because “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” If you or your organization align with some of these statements I welcome and invite you to work with me.

Simplify employee engagement into an 8 word definition: good work done well with others every day.

Change engagement by changing behaviors and actions. We change attitudes, emotions and culture by changing behavior.

Make employee engagement actions and behaviors simple, small, strategic, significant, and sustainable.

Rewrite the grammar of engagement from the noun of engagement to the verb of engage.

To read the other 17 declarations view the slides below:

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement and the Verb of Engage

I am currently crafting a 21-point manifesto for employee engagement.

Zinger Employee Engagement Manifesto

I trust I will have it completed in the next 2 weeks and look forward to sharing this document and engaging with people based on a strong action statement of what I believe is required to move employee engagement forward for the next 15 years. Here is a list of the verbs that begin each statement:

  1. simplify
  2. change
  3. make
  4. rewrite
  5. diminish
  6. monitor
  7. recognize
  8. offer
  9. substitute
  10. awaken
  11. ensure
  12. reframe
  13. integrate
  14. mobilize
  15. energize
  16. enable
  17. learn
  18. commit
  19. elevate
  20. build
  21. forge

Look for this action manifesto within the next two weeks then engage along with me because the best is yet to be.