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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.

Reading Time: 4 minutes and 55 seconds

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.

Zinger’s 8 Word Behavioral Definition of Employee Engagement

A shorter more simple definition of employee engagement

Employee Engagement Definition

It has taken me about 8 years and 10,000 hours to get to a definition of employee engagement that is both simple and elegant. I am discouraged with emotional and attitudinal surveys as I have become increasingly behavioral in my views of work and engagement. My definition puts engagement in the hands of each employee — I can choose to do this everyday while also being enabled and encouraged by my leaders, managers, and organization.

We are each responsible for our own engagement as we are accountable to each other for the impact we have on making engagement easy or difficult for others.

I define employee engagement in 8 words as:

Good work done well with others every day.

Good work means consistent quality and good is also a pathway to great while great is a by product of good. Good can be good enough. Good is sustainable while also being fused with gumption and grit rather than the hype and hyperbole of the continual and debilitating pursuit of great. Putting work in the definition means the focus of engagement is less about liking an organization or having a good attitude and more about our tasks, project, and specific work. Without work in the definition employee engagement is practically meaningless. Of course, sometimes our work extends beyond task and requires us to work on building robust relationships focused on achieving results.

Done well means we perform well and that good work can make us well.

With others acknowledges our connections and even a solo performer has inputs and interactions with other. We need to stop thinking that we work for someone or an organization, rather we work with someone or with an organization. We are joined and not subservient. We are all “social workers” these days.

Every day refers to enduring and sustainable work Engagement is not a biannual survey it is something we focus on every day, and we can change engagement for the better any and every day.

So let’s keep it simple and ensure employee engagement is good work done well with others every day.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and global expert who does his best to engage fully with work every day while helping others ensure employee engagement is not so much mumbo jumbo but an enriching experience of the time we spend working.

Employee Engagement Invitation: Work Can Make You Well

Get to Work and Find Well Being

Wellness_ZingerModel

I think for far too many of us work is hell not well.

  • We disengage.
  • We experience drudgery.
  • We burnout.
  • We feel drained.
  • We encounter toxic relationships.
  • We lack the resources for the job.
  • We live for the weekend but lack enthusiasm for much beyond napping when the weekend arrives.

The last thing we need is someone being motivational and inspiration and saying that we just need a little attitude adjustment and work will be great.

Now here is the tricky part. I believe work can make us well. Really? Really!

And much of it is simple even if it is not easy. I think it begins with experiencing work as an invitation to well-being. Like any invitation, we are free to decline it, we don’t have to go there.  Yet, we need to realize the consequences to us, our co-workers, our customers, and our families when we fail to accept this invitation.  Of course, here is the tricky part, no one sends you the invitation in a fancy card with gold embossed script saying you are invited to be well at work.

So if you have read this far, please accept this bland blog invitation to merely entertain the idea that work can make you well and join me over the next month or two and explore how we can find well-being right inside the work we do.

DavidZinger_sample2

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who is saddened by disengagement and the impact it has on individuals and families. David taught counselling psychology at the University of Manitoba for 25 years and was the employee assistance counsellor for Seagram Ltd. for 15 years. He founded and host the 6400 member Employee Engagement Network. He knows work from the inside out.

 

How to Live Fully at Work: The New Employee Recognition

We need more authentic and robust employee engagement and recognition.

Klinic World Suicide Prevention Day

I am honored to be invited by Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg to speak during lunch hour at Vimy Ridge Park in Winnipeg during “Connecting Canada” for World Suicide Prevention Day.  If you are in Winnipeg on September the 10th., I encourage you to come by for the short presentation and the free community barbecue.

Yes, I believe that a strong organization or company will help all employees live fully at work – with a full life and a life full of meaning and mattering. We need to recognize when employees are struggling and what we can do to help. This adds a lot of oomph to how we work and relate with each other. Because our focus on September 10th. is on suicide prevention I plan to to offer a brief focus on what I consider the opposite of suicide — living fully.

To live fully is to have a full life in years while putting fullness into each day. It embraces and acknowledges life’s joys and suffering,  both our own and others, letting in compassion and support.  Living fully is about living for both us and for others. Living fully at work is more about work/life integration than trying to find an ideal state of balance. Living fully at work is the new meaningful employee recognition when we are attuned to others in our work community and we recognize and connect with them during progress, celebration, setback, struggle, and loss.

Consider accepting even one of the following 10 invitations that life offers us at work:

  1. Accept each day as an invitation to live fully.
  2. Be mindful of moments and in touch with all your fluctuating emotions.
  3. Engage with both your work and the people you work with.
  4. Acknowledge impermanence – know that even negative experiences will change over time.
  5. Move beyond isolation from others by making connection and contribution.
  6. Flourish at work with positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, and strengths.
  7. Open your head, heart, and hands to your coworkers.
  8. Transform the ritual question of “how are you today?” into an authentic curiosity and really listen and respond to what the other person says.
  9. Face fears and create safety at work by caring for others and caring about what they are trying to achieve in their life.
  10. Know that small is big, by taking small steps day after day you will make a huge difference in your life or the life of someone else.

Bonus: Entertain a playful serenity with this modified serenity prayer: God grant me the laughter to see the past with perspective, face the future with hope, and celebrate today without taking myself too seriously.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker who resides in Winnipeg Canada and works around the world. David was also a volunteer counsellor at Klinic over 30 years ago.

Employee Engagement Through People Artistry

A People Artistry Tidbit

(Reading time: 50 seconds )

Peoplt Artistry at Work Book Cover

I had a wonderful conversation with the latest reader of People Artistry at Work. He just retired this year as the Assistant Superintendent of a very large school division. He believed the book was a fine leadership book and that it summed up his approach to successful leadership.

He stated, “it is amazing what we can accomplish and achieve together when we recognize and value people even if they initially lack skills.” Through our people artistry we empower, we build capacity and as leaders we never lose sight of the fact that we are only as good as the people we lead. We need to recognize all employees so they recognize their own strengths, gifts, challenges, and contributions.

To learn more about this $10 book or to order people artistry for all you leaders visit: www.peopleartistry.com.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert.

Employee Engagement: How to use gamification to climb Mount Everest (almost).

Being game for work and wellbeing

(Reading time 4 minutes and 30 seconds)

Year of Points button

I have themed 2014 as a year of points. I am further extending my work on using the principles and practices of gamification for work and wellbeing. In a future post, I will provide an update of the daily game board I use to plan and track my time and performance to enhance  work and wellbeing.

For this post I want to outline a three week gamification of fitness. The Winnipeg Winter Club where I workout has a mean looking machine called Jacob’s Ladder. It is like a 40 degree angled treadmill with the tread being replaced by ladder rungs. It is exhausting and you feel a bit like Sisyphus as you climb a ladder and get nowhere, but it is a great workout. The first time I tried the ladder back in January I could only do a couple of minutes before being fatigued.

For the month of February my fitness club challenged members to climb 29, 029 feet, or the equivalent of the elevation of Mount Everest on Jacob’s Ladder. I decided this was a game, even at fifty-nine years of age, I wanted to play. I knew to be successful I needed to gamify the process and was ultimately successful in taking just twenty days from the time I started to making it to the summit.

Here was how I approached the task based on gamification ideas and practices:

Compelling narrative. I was not climbing a ladder I was participating in an adventure to get to the top of Everest. A strong compelling narrative often keeps people glued to a movie or a game. In this case, I kept imaging I was getting to the top of Everest. I wasn’t delusional but it made climbing the steps more fun.

Mount Everest

Being social. I didn’t climb with someone else but my daughter, Katharine, was my fitness buddy in another challenge at the club. Her support and knowing I was scoring points for us as a team was very helpful. I used almost daily updates on social media to report on my progress to make myself accountable to people who follow me and to gather energy and encouragement from their support. And of course, I kept broadcasting my success to my wife and sons.

Making progress. Progress is engaging while setback are disengaging. I did not wait until I arrived at the “summit” to celebrate. I printed out a Wikipedia list of all the mountain peaks around the world so I had the progress of reaching the elevation of over 1000 peaks along the way. Also I scored 10 points for a bigger fitness competition each day I completed ten or more minutes on the ladder.

Meaningful. This game was meaningful to me. For gamification to work and be sustainable the game must be meaningful to the player. Virtually climbing Mount Everest would not be either compelling or meaningful to many people but as someone who lived their whole life on the prairies it had always been a whimsical desire to climb the world’s tallest peak. Given everything else in my life this was about as close as I was going to get to achieving that desire.

Novelty. From one perspective I was just climbing a ladder to nowhere and that can be very fatiguing and boring. I enhanced novelty in the game by working at different paces and with different lengths of climbing. One day I climbed for 28 minutes and covered 1816 feet — this climb was the equivalent of climbing the CN Tower in Toronto (it must have been a foggy day as the view on Jacob’s Ladder never seemed to actually change).

Keeping track. I used a notebook to keep track of time, steps, and speed. Monitoring the climb with the different numbers derived was motivating while keeping me on track and preventing a fitness goal derailment.

Celebrate. I did celebrate success of the goal achieved by opening a small bottle of bubbly champagne and toasting the feat with Jeff, the fitness director, in a couple of small paper cone cups. We should always make time to celebrate progress as this helps to mentally install all the benefits of our accomplishments.

Benefits beyond the game. I like games that are immersions rather than diversions. By this I mean the game has real world benefits and is not merely a distraction from work and life. This game increased my fitness, helped me shed about 10 pounds, and feel more energized each day.

The game as a booster rather than an end in itself. Sometimes the trouble with gamification is that it begins to lose its impact over time. Now that I was successful will this mean I stop using the ladder and let my fitness entropy to previous levels. To overcome this I am now planning to climb the equivalent of the 7 summits of the world over the next year. It won’t be as intensive as the last month but it will make the progress and fitness sustainable over a long period of time. As we begin to approach the end of a helpful and positive gamification of work or wellbeing it is quite helpful to ask ourselves: what come’s next? Just because the game ended doesn’t mean the practice and benefits should also end.

Are you game? How can you integrate the practices outline above into your own work and wellbeing to foster greater engagement in achieving a result that matters to you or your work group?

Many small steps are one giant step. In summary it was 29,029 small steps for David and one giant step for the application of gamification to better work and wellbeing.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Speaker

David Zinger is a Canadian employee engagement speaker and expert who believes in the benefits of gamification as a powerful tool for greater engagement.

Employee Engagement Waggle on Slideshare

Waggle while you work

Honeybee Yellow

Here is the latest eBook by David Zinger on 39 ways to improve organizations, employee engagement, and work. The book is based on 3 years of experience convening honeybees and humans. Catch the buzz by learning to think differently inside and outside your human hive!

David Zinger is an expert  global employee engagement speaker and consultant who brings the engagement  down to earth while striving to enliven the pyramid of employee engagement to help leaders, managers, and organizations increase engagement and results while also building relationships. David has worked on employee engagement from Winnipeg to Warsaw, Saskatoon to South Africa, and Boston to Barcelona. In 2013, David has spoken in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Berlin, New York, Chicago, and Toronto. Contact him today at: david@davidzinger.com

 

Watch for Waggle – May 29

This background page for the new eBook Waggle makes me think of the old bat symbol in Batman. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed Batman on TV from 1966 to 1968! Watch for Waggle this Wednesday.

 

The Bee Symbol

David Zinger’s New eBook Waggle Coming May 29 (Table of Contents Page)

My new eBook Waggle: 39 Ways to Improve Organizations, Work and Engagement will be released on May 29th. I hope you will return to this site on Wednesday to read or download this free eBook with ways to improve organizations, work, and engagement based on my work with honeybees, office objects, and computers for 3 summers. My favorite waggle is: One bee matters.

Here is the table of contents page from the book:

Waggle Table of Contents Promotion Page

David Zinger conducted a 3 summer experiment attempting to convene honeybees and humans into a shared space. David’s is devoted to improving engagement for organizations and individuals.