Making work a game – seriously!

ImageI think we can all agree that having more fun and excitement at work would be a welcome relief.

People play games for one reason only – they enjoy the experience. Game players get to test and acquire new skills, enjoy the camaraderie of the team (or even competitors), they like to win and the fun of winning. The game itself is often more important than the reward.

For entrepreneurs, business owners and executives, business is essentially a game. They love playing the game and they love to win – i.e. match wits with the competition and crush them! They know the rules! The profit generated by a successful business is part of “keeping the score” and winning.

In the lower ranks, business is not a game. In fact, work is – well – work. You show up, do your job, get paid, and go home. They don’t get to feel the excitement of the game – they don’t know the rules, don’t know the score – the game is hidden. They get the same reward (pay check) every month regardless of how well they do or how well the company does. The score is always the same – the scoreboard is hidden!

Open-Book Management principals teach everybody in the company to be a player. One of the initial concepts is to teach every employee how to read the numbers, what they mean and how it connects in with the big picture of helping the company win.

A game can be setup for any short-term initiative or problem that needs to be fixed or resolved. Games could be setup to raise sales, introduce a new product, lower office supplies expense, improve safety or decrease waste. Just about any company activity you would like improved can be turned into a game. Remember – every good game needs a scoreboard and a reward or payoff if you win. No scoreboard, no reward – no fun!

Keep in mind, games will get old if you don’t show employees the bigger picture of how winning this game will also improve the company results. The employees will start to feel like they are the ones being played and become cynical if you don’t connect the dots and give them a stake in the outcome.

By the way, you don’t have to think up the games yourself, involve your employees in making it happen. Develop a plan on how to show employees the bigger picture, keep educating them on the numbers of the business and how they drive company performance. If you implement playing games with the intention of educating employees and sharing in the improvements generated by the games – you will be successful. If you do it to manipulate your employees to work harder – the fun will be short lived and so will be any company improvements.

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Why Employee Engagement is Critical!

Employee Engagement Building Blocks

Employee Engagement Building Blocks

Gallop’s definition of an engaged employee “Works with passion and feels a profound connection to their company and they drive innovation and move the organization forward.”
But on average only 30% of employees fall into that category. 50% fall into the Not-Engaged group. Here is how not-engaged is described:
“Employees are essentially “checked out.” They’re sleepwalking through their workday and putting in time — but not energy or passion — into their work.” Just by the definition difference between the two you can feel the impact engaged employees would have compared to not-engaged.

What if you could double the number of engaged employees, from 30 % to 60%, what effect do you think that could have on how your customers feel about you and the impact on your bottom line?
Most businesses say “our employees are our most important asset”, but the reality is something different. How much time and effort is really spent on improving engagement – by increased training – by doing surveys to see how much their employees are actually engaged at work? Maybe business owners don’t really think they have much control over their employee engagement – i.e. you either hired a great employee or you didn’t – so there is not much I can do to improve the situation.

This is just not true, businesses can go from not having an engaging work place to a very engaged work place – with the same employees. All they have to do is decide that having a 30% engaged workforce is costing them customer satisfaction, time, unhappy employees, hire turnover, productivity, profit and causing lower quality and higher absenteeism.
Gallop also quantified some of the reasons you want highly engaged employees.
• Businesses in the top 25% of employee engagement do significantly better in productivity, profitability, and customer ratings than the companies in the bottom 25%.
• Companies with 9.3 engaged workers for every actively disengaged, experienced 147% higher earnings compared to competition. In contract, companies with 2.6 engaged workers for every actively disengaged worker experienced 2% lower earnings than the competition.

Do you believe these numbers? It’s pretty obvious that companies that have engaged employees would have superior productivity, profitability and customer ratings. Isn’t it just good business to work toward this?
It is more of an attitude shift of the owner than a hard cost to the business to get there. Next post we will get into how to have a highly engaged workforce – how to weave it into the fabric of how your business operates.

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How engaged are your employees?

Isn't this job great!

I Love my Job! I just need a little nap.

A recent Gallop study quantifies the bleak state of employee engagement at work. Only 30% of employees are engaged at work.

Do you know how engaged your employees are?  You are missing out on a lot of brain power and frankly improvement to your business bottom line if you don’t look it.

There are excellent  and time tested ways to double the engagement of your employees – and it isn’t weekend retreats or a ropes course – of which the benefits are short lived.

I will be discussing this more in-depth in a series of posts during April.