Category Archives: Engagement

How Games Can Influence Your Company’s Productivity

How to influence employee productivity

Games have an important evolutionary aspect

There’s a reason why trivia night has become so popular at bars. It’s the same reason why Words with Friends and Farmville are frequently downloaded games. But games are not just a waste of time. Hidden underneath these common games lies a deeper evolutionary aspect we are just uncovering.

Jane McGonigal, a researcher at The Institute for the Future and a professional game designer, predicts that in the 21st century solutions to problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict and obesity will be found in games, and that we need to be playing games more than we already do.

Really?

McGonigal says that the amount of combined time in years humans spend playing games can only be compared to how long it took the first human being to walk up right.

“It turns out that by spending all this time playing games, we’re actually changing what we are capable of as human beings.”

“Evoke”, a social network game designed to empower people to think creatively about critical problems, is changing behavior for the better. It combines graphic novel stories, the same way many video games do, and has unique missions directly tied into looming issues we face today. The result, people learn to survive major global disasters through gameplay.

Why would games be the most effective way to get people to face things like hunger or drought?

As of right now, people are using games to escape from everyday stresses that range from personal to global.

“We feel that we are not as good in reality as we are in games. And I don’t just mean successful, I also mean good as in motivated to do something that matters.”

Hopefully every employee that works for you is passionate about the mission your company is on, but it never hurts to add more incentives. Since many games are social by nature, they weave a tight social fabric.

Recognize, a social employee recognition platform, is an enterprise SaaS platform with gamification mechanics built in. It harnesses team-building through the reward system and uses ‘leveling-up’ the way one does in a game. Bosses and managers can implement recognition of completed tasks both big and small to reward employees for a job well done.

“There are lots of different characters who are willing to trust you with a world-saving mission, right away, whenever you show up in one of these games. And then gamers receive so much positive feedback that they feel they can achieve more in online worlds than they can in real life. What this feedback triggers is a sense of urgent optimism.”

Gamers are notoriously focused and on-task for so many hours that they lose themselves in these worlds, and by understanding why the game is so enthralling may lead to a more focused and committed workplace.

When tasks through Recognize are completed, it builds trust and a positive feedback loop within a team. That has a great affect on everyone involved and it gives employees a tangible sense of accomplishment that perhaps they would normally only feel in a game.

How to influence employee productivity

There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’

How Games Saved a Civilization

McGonigal shares a story passed down to us by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus who says dice games were invented in the kingdom of Lydia during a sever famine. Tension amongst the people was high, so the king came up with a solution: They would only eat every other day. On the days they didn’t eat, they played dice games.

The people were so engaged in these games that they weren’t paying attention to the fact that they weren’t eating. They survived for 18 years like this.

The famine didn’t get any better after 18 years, so the king divided his kingdom in half and ordered one final game to be played. The winning half was sent on a journey, an epic mission if you will, to find a new land that could support the remaining half of their civilization.

How to influence employee productivity

Could this be the key to the Roman Civilization?

Scientists have since discovered that the Etruscans, the founders of the Roman Empire, share the same DNA as the ancient Lydians, suggesting that this story is true.

That means that one of the greatest civilizations in history was founded on games as a solution to what seemed like an immovable problem. Not a bad thing to model your own company after.

So, next time you catch Joe or Tina playing Farmville at work, why not give them a pat on the back and ask them if they want to play a game with you?

 

Sources:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world/transcript?language=en

www.urgentevoke.com

Employee recognition for startups

Entering Startup

Entering Startup

“The Ducky goes to… David!” Leann Arkema, the VP of operations at Breakthrough, announces to the company of 14 employees. Everyone claps while David smiles and stands. “I accept this reward…”, David begins. Everyone quiets down as David reports some of the successes that week and thanks everyone for thinking of him for his hard work. Next week David will pass the Ducky onto someone else to be highlighted at the team meeting.

Employee recognition isn’t only for large companies with budgets for online solutions, like Recognize. Homegrown employee recognition works well in small centrally-located companies with passionate employees who are creating culture as they go. A recognition program in this setting can go a long way if it resonates with the team and is highlighted in monthly or in weekly meetings.

“The holder of the chalice presents a colleague with this commendation for feats of strength and stamina in the line of duty during our Friday Hour of Awesomeness.” – Peter Shanley Director of Strategic Programs at Neo

At the innovative interactive agency, Neo, they pass around a chalice to the employee of the week that went above and beyond. They call it the Neo Unicorn Cup. “Holder of the chalice presents them their commendation for feats of strength and stamina in the line of duty during our Friday Hour of Awesomeness.” Says Peter Shanley Director of Strategic Programs at Neo.

The Neo Unicorn Cup

Neo Unicorn Cup

Personalized employee recognition

The mascot is a large duck at Breakthrough, an online therapy startup. Leann Arkema says “The ducky symbolizes something that looks calm, but under the water the legs are moving very fast. That’s how we like to think at Breakthrough. We are relaxed while we work very hard.” Leann added a twist to their employee recognition program, the ducky is signed by the recipient. The ducky is now covered in memories of recognition.

Framework for startup employee recognition

  1. Choose a trophy for the monthly recognition. Ideally a company mascot or special symbol
  2. Email company introducing the program
  3. Pass the trophy around on a weekly or monthly basis in a team or company meeting
  4. Allow the last winner hand the trophy to the new winner
  5. Email company who won the trophy
  6. Keep the trophy on the desk of the winner for the week or month
  7. Add something special to the program to make it unique to your organization

Employee recognition works at startups to Fortune 500. What’s most important is tying the program to company culture. Companies will engage staff when they include a public, fun, and equal recognition program across the organization.

Employee recognition points redesigned for stronger employee engagement

Five_Points_-_George_Catlin_-_1827

Recognize Points are unlike any other recognition program. Our competitors have companies pay for points to be given out to staff. The status quo in employee recognition is to then have the staff get stuff with the points. With that comes red tape surrounding recognition. Furthermore, monetary rewards often hinder performance (1). We believe recognition should be light and fun. That means points should symbolize friendly competition between teams as well as show progression in positive events. Recognize stands out, because no other program provides this strategy.

Recognize Points give staff a chance to be the best every month

Recognize employee recognition platform engages staff by focusing on motivating beyond cash incentives. We learned from our customers that they were looking for a sense of journey, or a way to feel accomplishment each month. To help achieve this, we created the Recognize Points.

Profile

The stats page is focused on the user


The stats page will show the current user no matter where they are in the leaderboard. Users can focus on winning to the next spot. Now that points reset, staff members always have a chance to rise up.

Recognize continues to be the best at helping companies find ways to intrinsically motivate their workforce.

Footnote:
1. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation

Collective Gamification

Only 13% of the world’s workforce is engaged (1), leading to billions of dollars lost in potential productivity. To fix this, Dan Pink identified purpose as one of the three most important drivers towards engagement (2). Recognize has an innovative strategy to help staff feel they have purpose in the organization. We call this strategy Collective Gamification.

Earth

Increase levels together through Collective Gamification

Workers don’t realize their influence in companies, because they lack tools to visualize the difference they make. To provide insight, Recognize is building strategy to show workers their influence in the organization. Imagine a gauge that represents a company’s Recognition Engagement Score (RES), or how much recognition is engaging staff in an organization. When a worker sends a recognition, this gauge’s needle moves to the right- providing instant feedback to the user they are influencing the greater good. Another use of Collective Gamification is collective levels. When a user sends a recognition they influence the leveling-up of their team, department, or company. Staff work together to increase their team’s level. The result is more togetherness and teamwork.

It isn’t about me anymore, it is about us

Employee recognition must go both ways to truly work in an organization. A worker receives recognition, giving them a sense of connectedness with the company (3). A worker sends a recognition, and sees immediate collective benefit. If staff realize this potential through collective gamification, only good will follow for the organization.

References

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx
2. Dan Pink on motivation:

3. http://hbr.org/2013/07/connect-then-lead/ar/1

Personalized recognition campaigns to incentivize behaviors and promote mastery.

Flock of birds

Employee recognition is a means to show staff their time is valued, they have purpose, and ability to grow in an organization. At Recognize, we now help companies maximize their staff’s potential through personalized recognition campaigns, or levels of achievement.

The employee recognition campaign strategy

  1. Discover the values or the behaviors the company wants to promote. In Recognize, those values are presented as graphical badges.
  2. Determine the principles that guide those values or behaviors. Managers and company leaders are educated on the principles and asked to look for peers exhibiting those principles. As result, the staff has a top-of-mind mentality towards promoting the company’s goals.
  3. Each badge has levels of achievement. The levels are marked by number of recognitions for a specific badge. At each level we recommend employees are given status, access, and power in the organization.
  4. The employee can print out a recognition certificate to show their accomplishments.
  5. The Recognize Team sends leaders weekly reports of who is excelling based on recognition data.

The employee feels intrinsically motivated when they have purpose and mastery in the organization. Status, access, and power help create that motivation.

Recognition levels

Recognition levels

Status is when an employee can move up in each of the recognition badges. For instance, if “Social Media” is an initiative, the manager can create a Social Media badge. When an employee reaches new levels of Social Media, they are rewarded with an additional title of Social Media Expert or Social Media Strategist. The employee now knows they are noticed for their abilities.

Access is opening new doors to employees through a variety of methods. At lower levels, an employee may have access to a special parking spot for a period of time. At higher levels an employee has access to a conference. The increase of rewards motivates staff to excel in values or behaviors the company looks to promote.

As they say, power is addicting. Increasing an employee’s power in the organization drives the feeling of mastery. We recommend giving staff various levels of decision-making power via the recognition program. A junior marketer may actually be an expert in email marketing, and through employee recognition this can be discovered and validated. If this employee levels-up in a recognition email marketing campaign, they can be rewarded with power to make specific email marketing decisions. The junior marketer may still be a junior marketer, but has a new sense of purpose and mastery.

The Recognize campaigns emphasizes intrinsic motivation in the workplace. Through a well-planned campaign a company can promote any behavior. To learn more about recognition campaigns, please contact us.

Photo by Don McCullough.

Warming your company culture for higher profits

Kittens together

Traditional wisdom says strength and confidence are necessary to lead. New research says is only half the story. Social psychology research, such as Andrea Abele’s work on warmth and connectedness, show how warmth and strength together elicit the most effective leadership. The book Compelling People‘s main theme is warmth and strength together is the perfect cocktail for excellence.

When meeting someone, how do you act? Do you go right into the primary topic of conversation, or do you first build rapport by sharing experiences? When presenting to a group, is the focus on the stats and numbers, or do you first try to make a connection with your audience? Seemingly filler chat has been shown to make a huge impact on whether people will listen. People need to know you are there for them and you understand them. By entering the in-group of your audience, they will consider you part of them and you are worth taking seriously. In persuasion, being apart of the in-group is more effective than showing credentials of expertise. Story telling is often all that is needed to create a human connection.

A cohesive mindset amongst staff influences the company’s bottom-line, because a connected staff drives innovation and a customer-focus mentality

To bind a company together, leaders must communicate and show warmth with their staff. At Recognize, we see employee recognition as one way to create that critical bond. By providing positive feedback to staff, leaders open themselves up. When leaders overtly recognize staff, they show they care and acknowledge the hard work being done. The result, staff stop looking out for themselves and start looking out for the group. A cohesive mindset amongst staff influences the company’s bottom-line, because a connected staff drives innovation and a customer-focus mentality. Research by Watson Wyatt in 2009 indicates top-level staff must connect with low-level staff in order for staff to be more engaged. One simple way to communicate in a positive way is to promote everyone’s best behavior via a recognition program.

Learn more about warmth and strength by reading Compelling people, the references below, and practicing warmth in your life. You’ll see an immediately difference in how people respond to you.

References
http://www.americanbusinessmag.com/2013/10/happy-bosses-plus-happy-employees-equal-more-profits/

https://enterprisersproject.com/sites/default/files/How%20to%20Balance%20Competence%20with%20Warmth.pdf

http://compellingpeople.com/

Your app is a creek and users are water

A creek ran through my childhood property. Sometimes the movement of my creek would slow due to tiny mud slides and other miniature natural disasters. To allow the water to flow more freely, my friends and I shoveled clear mud, sticks, and rocks clearing the creek.

What I’ve learned about usability of websites/apps is that users are a lot like the water that flows through a creek, and the creek is the app. Through testing, analytics, and design improvements you will watch your users move faster and farther through your app, just like how we moved mud and rocks from the creek.

Here’s a simple non-data-driven way to quickly evaluate your site for blockage: Go through your web app and at each screen ask yourself, where is the obvious button to click or action to complete? If you don’t immediately know, then that page may be causing blockage in the user flow. Check to see if your analytics supports this hypothesis.

The general rule to avoid mud and rocks in your web app is to always have one or two primary actions per section, view, or page.

The primary action of some views is to scroll. In this case it is best to show a cropped content point at the bottom of the screen or browser. Without anything to do other than to see more, the user will innately scroll your website.

If you require three or more options, then suggest a primary path. You can highlight a section with a background color, brighter and bigger button, specific title, or horizontal rule. Essentially, make the primary action stand out through color, size, and positioning.

By following these few simple rules, you should see longer visit duration times and increased conversions. Just like my creek flowed fast and wide when we cleared the rocks, your users will move through your app at a higher velocity.

Three steps to Social HR

The leftover dogma from the industrial revolution has to be removed from company culture in order to avoid an arduous path. The workforce is moving away from the repetitive motions of factory work. Norms developed to push people to their limit must be shed.

The modern workplace is all about sharing knowledge, social employee recognition, staff engagement, and interconnectedness. Embrace the ever-increasing hyper-connected social society in your workplace, and reap the rewards of an engaged innovative environment.

1. Use social enterprise software to interconnect and brainstorm with your staff

Communicate with your staff through Yammer, an internal enterprise social network. Yammer is a lot like Facebook’s wall, allowing communication with your entire staff. If one person has a problem in your company, they can ask on Yammer allowing anyone to answer.

Then, introduce social employee recognition. Many companies already have an employee recognition system in place, but most homegrown solutions are isolated. Our application, Recognize, provides a needed social element to employee recognition. When employees are recognized publicly, they’ll be more profitable. Regularly recognized employees are more dedicated to the organization as well as feel better about themselves.

Move away from your isolated intranet. Aragon Research predicts by the end of 2014, social intranets will replace conventional, information-driven intranets. Ones that connect with third party applications and allow real-time collaboration, allow for new ways companies can get the most from their staff.

Much like Yammer and Salesforce, choose tools that allow seamless integration with your technology workflow. In Recognize, we are working to completely integrate with Yammer, Google, and eventually Salesforce. Being integrated is key to surviving the modern enterprise technology landscape. One way to find apps that are connected is by looking in Yammer’s App Directory. The Business Tools section on Google Web Store is another way to find web apps.

2. Give more responsibility to your staff

Let your employees choose their job title. I love this idea ever since I heard it being practiced at Amazon. I even mentioned it in a previous post. It gives more ownership to the employees and suggests the employer trusts them. It may be a small gesture, but many small gestures add up. When employees feel they have more ownership, they’re more engaged.

Eliminate the 30 minute daily break. We are using our minds more than our bodies, and we need proper mental breaks. Strict rules like two 15-minute breaks implicitly assume the employer doesn’t fully trust their employees. Let your employees decide when they are ready for a break. Thus, your staff will more alert and able to handle challenging tasks.

Create an environment where everyone’s opinion counts. That’s why Yammer and social collaboration tools work so well. People can articulate and share their ideas on an equal playing field. We need to start applying this idea more in the real world. Build a “living wall” where employees physically write on a wall in your office. This act is empowering for employees. It is visible to everyone in the office, and allows everyone an equal opinion.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a recent trend in business. Not only do businesses save money when they allow their employees to bring their own monitor or device, it gives your staff more ownership over their lives at work.

3. Encourage more physical activity

When people do tasks together, they feel more connected. Introduce activities where the staff can collaborate in games, outdoor activity, or exercise.

Open an exercise room in your office. A room with a couple of ellipticals and a ping pong table will go a long way. Host daily exercise or yoga classes at the office. When people have exercised they are more relaxed and think more clearly.

Throw monthly parties celebrating employee achievements. Using employee recognition tools like Recognize can help with this. No matter what employee recognition platform your company uses, celebrating your staff with beverages and awards each month helps company culture and office positivity.

Throw bimonthly parties with TED-like talks from staff, and celebrate company projects.

Open up and embrace social

Using enterprise social web applications, providing more ownership to your employees, and fostering an environment of activity will lead to a better workplace for you and your staff. You’ll see more innovation and collaboration.

How is your company providing a social environment in your office? What are your concerns with an open culture?

Increasing employee engagement with incentive programs

When was the last time you felt engaged at work? I mean really present, fired up, and motivated to meet the day’s challenges. When was the last time you saw your employees and coworkers excited to be at work and inspired by a project or task? Yesterday? Last week? Maybe a few months ago? Or not even once in the last year?

Employees simply are not engaged at work, and this disengagement is affecting productivity, retention, and work quality. According to a recent Gallup poll, this disengagement costs the U.S. economy $370 billion annually. 1

The goods news is that the corporate world is learning how to engage and motivate employees, and employers are putting this gained knowledge into action. Recent research highlights the power appreciation and recognition have for boosting employee motivation and reigniting engagement. 2 3 As Blacksmith and Harter report, “Over the past several decades, business and psychological researchers — including Gallup — have identified a strong relationship between employees’ workplace engagement and their respective company’s overall performance.” 4

So what are some good ways to increase employee engagement? A simple and effective place to start is with a social recognition application like Recognize. Recognize makes it easy for employees to express their appreciation for one another. Users select a badge to match the good deed they’re recognizing, add a personalized message, and then send it to a co-worker of their choice. All recognitions are showcased allowing co-workers to show their support with comments and +1s.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a leader in your workplace, an HR professional, or an employee – anyone can take the powerful step of recognizing the effort and skills of colleagues and in doing so, increase productivity and work quality. While a simple heartfelt thank you can have a lasting effect, programs to standardize and socialize workplace recognition, like Recognize, are making employee appreciation an even more powerful motivator.

Sign up today on our homepage, and be recognizing coworkers in less than a minute.

_________

References:

1. Blacksmith, N. & Harter, J. (2011). Majority of American Workers Not Engaged in Their Jobs. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/150383/majority-american-workers-not-engaged-jobs.aspx

2. Bersin, J. (2012). New Research Unlocks the Secret of Employee Recognition. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/06/13/new-research-unlocks-the-secret-of-employee-recognition/

3. Human Capital Institute. (2009). The Value and ROI in Employee Recognition: Linking Recognition to Improved Job Performance and Increased Business Value — The Current State and Future Needs. Retrieved from http://theirf.org/direct/user/file/pdf/Value-and-ROI-in-Employee-Recognition.pdf

4. Blacksmith, N. & Harter, J. (2011).