How important is a morale booster to your team? Many communicators are stuck in ancient protocols that leave their internal communications boring and dry. As research points out, employee engagement leads to both a happier workforce and a significantly healthier bottom line.
An increasing number of organizations are finding interesting lessons in the art of play, and more specifically in "gamification." Gamification recognizes that human behaviour revolves around the need for "validation" and "rewards" so finding what things are most meaningful to your employees in those areas and simple ways of "making it so" can be game-changers.
Here are 6 games you can adapt right now...
Is it any wonder that Robert Fulghum's book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" was a bestseller? We were born knowing the importance of connection and play.
How do you use play to drive home mission critical corporate communication messages so you’re team no longer feels compelled to call “NOT IT!” when it’s time to engage your people?
Start a "high five" board.
Invite employees to tuck a note or picture in on the fly, acknowledging something a teammate did that made a difference to them and that they appreciated. Catching people "doing things right" is a powerful, positive flip, creating a culture that values and rewards the diverse and unique talents and efforts of its people.
Open a channel to ask employees what types of validation and rewards mean the most to them.
Ask the question, and invite them to answer in any way they see fit. Make this an open-ended space where they can continue to contribute ideas at any time. Start the conversation with a post inviting people to weigh in through comments. Use questions and hot topics to start new conversations to dig deeper into things that seem to be lightning rods for interest. Use polls to get a sense of priorities and value.
2. Scavenger Hunt
Invite employees to share an "Aha!" moment they have each week.
Unleash them to contribute in any way that moves them without it having to be directly related to work. It could be a cool article they stumbled across about something happening in their community, or a new piece of tech, or a movie that inspired them. This is a great discovery engine for what makes your people tick and will give you a bumper crop of insights into the kinds of rewards you might put into place. Invite creativity. Some people might want to share their idea with a video they shoot from their smartphone. Others might want to link to something cool that has inspired them.
Create a communications channel that invites and rewards sharing organizational game-changers.
Recognizing the value of your staff as the best possible "discovery engine" for innovation can be far more powerful than a traditional "competitive intelligence" report. Your staff know your products and services better than anyone, and will likely have ideas about the types of things being done elsewhere in the industry that could be rocket fuel in bringing them back and adopting/adapting them in your own organization. All of us read things in blogs and magazines, see things on t.v., hear things in podcasts and have conversations with family and friends about the things they use and value every day. This is fertile soil for harvesting new ideas that might allow your teams to tap into critical insights, pain points and needs in new ways while recognizing and rewarding the knowledge and contributions of your team. Using "likes" and "reacts" creates a level of intrinsic reward while helping to bubble up ideas with real potential. Feature top ideas in your internal newsletter, blog or "wall of fame" (digital or real.) Take it a step farther with extrinsic rewards, using a leaderboard to keep track of the person who contributes the best idea each week with a gift cards for their favourite eats or tech. Did something make a significant impact on productivity and the bottom line? Maybe reward the person who shared it with a a cut of the boost.
Do video or photo scavenger hunts.
We've done variations on the scavenger hunt many times here at InspireHUB. As a remote workplace it's one of the ways we create a sense of fun and connection, sometimes doing this live during our video hangouts, with our "Mandatory Fun Officer" calling out things on a list that we had to find and bring back and show on camera. (Don't ask me how I won because I had a toothbrush in my office, but I did ... ) This has been such a fun part of our culture that a member of our Customer Experience team shared it with one of our clients, a school where she was helping the students get to know the tools by engaging them in a physical scavenger hunt on the campus where they had to take pictures of what they found and share them in their IHUBApp. No surprise that it was a hit!
Hide "easter eggs" in your communications.
At InspireHUB our quirky sense of humour is a deeply embedded part of our corporate culture and it starts at the top. Easter Eggs (hidden treasures) are one of our Founder's favourites and our team will go out of their way to prank her right back. Karolyn likes to tuck sentences into proposals that take a call-to-action and make it fun. For instance ...
"Are you still reading this and not sleeping? You get two magical unicorn points. Brag about them at the next meeting."
(Hey. Don't judge us. We work hard for those points!) Or ...
"We have two major opposing views on this and each has their own merits much like DC and Marvel are totally different yet share similarities. Please prepare your arguments for our next all-hands meeting. Also be prepared to share your stance on DC vs. Marvel. All business and comic debates are expected to have thoroughly thought out rationales."
What's that? You're a "show-and-tell" kind of person? We are too! For a rather animated illustration of what "easter eggs" are and how a little fun can lead to engagement, try doing a Google search on the word "askew" or the phrase "do a barrel roll" and you'll see what we mean. (You're welcome ... ;)
4. Kick the Can
Use the question game to get an idea down the road.
Our fearless leader, Karolyn Hart, perfected the art of this here at InspireHUB. She was invited to talk about it when active.collab was writing an article on "How to Create Organizational Culture" last fall:
It all started when I noticed that although I offered praise and rewards my team would never ask questions, especially in public meetings. I had one staff member who also admitted they found it “terrifying” to question leadership based on past work environments. I realized I had to find a way to make people comfortable with asking questions then maybe they would do the transition.
I had sent out two logos for “questioning” the day before and got back a total of 2 questions. The next all-hands meeting I grabbed a pencil, and I asked the team to ask as many questions as they could on the pencil. They were laughing and having a great time. I then said, “Ok, I have one more.” This time I put up the before mentioned 2 logos - we had over 20 good questions in less than a few minutes.
It turned out we had to use “the pencil” for a few more sessions before the culture took over and it became something we understood. Now if I say “Question game this” the team just flies into action. New hires observe and catch on quickly.
5. Tag. You're it!
Invite each of your employees to contribute an article or video for your public-facing website.
Allow them to identify something they feel passionate about, or have a special knowledge of, that can add value for your clients and guests. This might be a "behind the scenes glimpse" into an aspect of your production or culture that outsiders might not normally have access to but would find interesting. It moves the dial from being a company about products to being one about people. Consumers engage with people, not products, and giving folks the chance to relate to you in a much more personal way not only makes you relevant to your audience but gives your employees a chance to be truly valued and recognized.
6. Red Rover
Ask other teams to send a representative on over to meetings in order to cross-pollinate ideas.
Agile organizations know the value of being able to assemble cross-functional teams on the fly to meet a diverse and changing set of needs. Sometimes this can be adapted more simply by recognizing the value of shaking things up in regular meetings. At InspireHUB we liberally trade on the wisdom of "Red Rover," calling members of other teams (or entire teams) into sessions to offer a new perspective or to do a "jam session" where their unique skills and energies add something entirely different to the mix. This not only keeps things fresh, it boosts morale, constantly giving us a glimpse into the special gifts and dynamics of other team members we don't get to play with as much. It's a great productivity boost with an empathy chaser!
At InspireHUB we use our own IHUBApp to do many of these things.
We can turn on a new channel in under a minute and start kicking the tires on things that matter to us not only as a business but as creative and interesting people. Any of us can tap into it from our desktops as we work, or tuck in a picture or video from our mobile phone as we're out doing the things we love, or share an interesting find from our tablets as we're watching and reading and listening to the things that inspire us.
Why does having fun at work matter so much?
- Tweet This ▶ Economists at the University of Warwick found that happy people are 12% more productive!
- Tweet This ▶ A study by BrightHR found that employees who have fun at work are:
- less likely to take sick days,
- more likely to report feeling creative at work, and
- are more committed to their organization!
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