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Remote Work: How to Create an Interactive Workplace

Remote Work: How to Create an Interactive Workplace

The workplace is evolving. The “9-5” is being replaced with a new, open atmosphere that promotes productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. Over the last couple of decades, workplaces have shifted from hierarchical to horizontal. And, unlike employees of older generations, today’s workforce is motivated by more than just a paycheck. Younger generations are motivated by respect, diverse experiences, and innovation. Interactive workplaces embrace a new style of learning, and implementing them increases creativity, motivation, and engagement in the workplace. However, these modern, remote workplaces are only successful when employees can interact.

What Is an Interactive Workplace?

Upon hearing the term, some might imagine a huge open space office with vibrant colors and loud patterns, funky furniture, employees mingling by a pool table or crowded around a large screen wearing VR headsets–and maybe a free-to-use snack bar to the left? While these imaginative types of offices do actually exist outside of movies, an interactive workplace doesn’t necessarily need to have colorful decor or odd furniture at all.

An interactive workplace at its core is a “space” that caters to the different ways that people learn and work. They allow people to interact with more content, share feedback, and ask questions. Innovation and employee collaboration are at the heart of an interactive workplace, and businesses don’t need to spend a fortune on renovations to achieve it.

How to create an interactive remote workplace:

Recreate Your Environment

Facilitate a Positive Setting

Utilize Interactive Tools

Additional Tips

Invest in Happiness

Create a Better Workplace for All

Recreate Your Environment

Whether your company is large or small, designing a remote work environment that promotes interaction is possible–and beneficial for the whole team. Executing “open spaces” provides employees a community environment; they can trade ideas, share opinions, and work together. This type of environment produces happier employees and a more positive environment overall.

Open and spacious, these interactive business environments attract motivated staff, encourage employee collaboration, and maximize space efficiency. Creating workspaces that are functional and allow for increased social collaboration has been shown to boost overall morale–and productivity. Employers can integrate various functional work environments into their offices, such as areas for personal space, concentration spaces where staff can get away from noise and distractions, collaboration areas, and social spaces.

Having designated spaces encourage people to move around, and take necessary breaks between heavy workloads to allow their minds and bodies a chance to recharge before diving back in. Allowing employees to choose how and where they work creates an environment that caters to many diverse needs, resulting in healthier and happier staff. However, all of this can be done remotely by implementing a virtual, interactive work environment.

Believe it or not, you don’t actually need to redecorate the office or hire an architect to create a better environment for your employees. With many people working from home these days, employers have access to many awesome new technologies. These technologies have been created with chief goals in mind: increasing remote interaction and collaboration, and assisting employees in learning in the way that’s most optimal for them. Large and small businesses can implement features like smart meeting rooms; video chats; and workplace groups where members can post, comment, and discuss all together (or in teams). eLearning and Gamification platforms are remarkable tools for boosting engagement and making employees feel empowered, entertained, motivated, and rewarded for reaching their goals.

In an open environment, business leaders are more easily able to identify problems within their workforce, and can then respond by implementing systems to increase daily positive interactions. A “system” can be something as simple as offering feedback to employees–letting them know that their hard work is noticed, and giving necessary positive reinforcement. Or, employ more involved methods, such as hosting events or team-building activities to offer employees some extra motivation and incentive.

Facilitate a Positive Setting

Creating a positive company culture and work environment leads to positive feelings, which are infectious. Employees who enjoy their work are not only more loyal to their company, but on a daily basis, a positive mood will be infectious to everyone they interact with. As a bonus, your consumers or clients will identify this positive feeling, enhancing everyone’s experience.

Try simple actions like taking a moment to ask how someone’s weekend was, holding meetings in a team setting, or consulting one-on-one. You’ll offer employees a chance to share their experiences, challenges, and interests. Leaders can then take this information to see what’s working (or what isn’t), and decide how to further facilitate positive interactions among their team.

Utilize Interactive Tools

Many new technologies have popped up that can enhance company morale, facilitate learning, and improve organization. Collaboration tools help employees to stay connected from anywhere. Interactive learning tools foster creativity and improved decision-making, helping everyone stay engaged. Some of the best collaboration and interactive learning software host various benefits and implement multiple tools.

Gamification platforms turn work into fun by redefining mundane tasks into reachable goals, turning projects into friendly competitions. Gamification allows employees to see their progress and what awaits them if they continue to perform well. These platforms encourage employees to strive for greater heights, incentivizing their responsibilities and keep them feeling challenged and motivated. Also a great aid in team building, gamification platforms disguise work by turning them into fun activities or challenges. Employers can offer real rewards for work done well. Encouraging a happier spirit and healthy work drive for employees makes them more loyal to the business and can increase employee retention overall.

Virtual team building activities provide communication and reinforce a shared team identity. Especially helpful for remote teams who are separated and may feel isolated, these activities help employees feel supported, re-supply engagement, and assist in building trust. Icebreaker activities, games, trivia, and personalized WFH care packages can bring people together and reinstate that team feeling in employees–no matter where they log in to work.

Interactive training is a beneficial style of learning many employers are picking up due to its many benefits. Interactive training and onboarding technologies are more appealing to employees because they offer interesting ways of learning new information, allowing learners to become more engaged, motivated, and rewarded through learning experiences. Because everyone learns differently, this type of training is invaluable to businesses. An interactive approach to training recreates the workplace in a fun way that encourages learners to be more creative, have fun while they’re absorbing information, and feel stimulated as they connect with tasks emotionally. Employees who are trained via interactive learning tools will retain information more efficiently, end up working more productively, and tend to enjoy the process much more.

Additional Tips for Creating an Interactive Workplace

Any employer should aim to boost employee engagement. This makes teams more productive, less likely to make mistakes, and more efficient overall. You know the look: the glazed-over expressions you see during long monotonous presentations. Employers and employees both lose out when engagement is lacking. Employees want to feel motivated and positive while working, and when we’re engaged, we’re learning more and working at a higher quality.

The following tips are a small but surefire way to create a more interactive, collaborative workplace (without having to buy a pool table):

  • Instead of banning the use of phones, make tech work for you by turning smartphones and tablets into learning tools. Utilize personal device-compatible streaming and learning technology.
  • If it’s essential that employees grasp key takeaways from a presentation, turn it into a contest or trivia game. Encourage employees to team up together and work against other teams; this helps to build bonds and encourages information sharing at the same time.
  • Get to know your employees. Each person has a different personality, behaviors, and communication preferences. One fun, interactive way to get to know your staff is to have them take personality quizzes. The Myers-Brigs test is a popular tool for understanding your staff or peers more deeply. The Four Tendencies test looks at how an individual responds to expectations, and understanding tendencies can assist in better decision making. Many tests are available online and can be used to learn more about one another, and add some spice to a dull workday. Participating in fun, original activities can reinvigorate staff and bring the mood up in a snap.
  • Not everyone learns in the same way, so offering multiple methods of sharing information can help ensure the data being presented is understood. Offer video tutorials, as well as written packets, and if possible offer hands-on teaching too.
  • Use mobile technology to send out surveys and polls to your staff to gain a better understanding of the workplace from their perspective. Some people aren’t comfortable speaking up in front of an audience and may be anxious talking to supervisors. It can be useful to allow employees to tell you privately or even anonymously how much they already know, what they hope to achieve, where more attention is needed, etc. Allowing employees to speak with their higher-ups through written (online) communication allows employers to address issues that others may be thinking about.

Invest in Happiness

Society tends to focus on the clients or customers, but a business’s most essential asset is the people who keep the business going day after day. Providing a space that keeps its people inspired, engaged, healthy and happy should be of utmost importance to every business because the benefits aren’t only for the employees, but the clients–and the business itself.

Fun, unconventional workspaces employing modern technology and ideas are becoming more popular around the globe. If you look up the top places to work, you will find a list of businesses that have adapted this forward way of thinking. The reason being: an interactive workplace facilitates self-motivated, more creatively inspired employees who look forward to coming to work. While most companies will not spring for a spa room or in-house cafe, adapting even small changes to encourage workplace interaction can make a big difference in an employee’s experience.

It seems that the previously unrealistic idea of ‘doing what you love’ is now an attainable reality. Younger generations are more likely to strive for the best work environment possible, unlike previous generations who were more comfortable with sacrifice and traditional methods–whether or not they were propitious. The benefits of interactive workplaces are proven. Business owners know that staying up to date is key to maintaining success. Modern workspaces reflect modern culture, and interactive workspaces are now viewed as a long-term investment. When employees love being at work, they’ll work more productively and more often. Business owners retain loyal employees, while clients and customers are exposed to genuinely happy staff who work better for them because they love what they do. Everyone wins.

A Better Workspace for All

People are beginning to reimagine their lives, incorporating their goals, and desires into their work life as much as their personal life. Work is where we spend the majority of our waking life, and considering just how valuable time is, it’s not too crazy that people wish to enjoy the work they do and make the most out of each day. When happier workers create more productively, make fewer errors, and company culture is all-around positive and constantly improving, one can argue that it is vital.

By choosing to implement one of the many interactive technologies, or environments as a long-term investment to better your workplace, you’re creating a space for employees to trade ideas, collaborate, and work as a team. What you get is a positive experience for all.

5 Motivators That Impact Employee Engagement Among Millennials and Gen Z

5 Motivators That Impact Employee Engagement Among Millennials and Gen Z

As mentioned in our previous blog entry, by the year 2025 75% of the workforce will be made up of members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations. Acknowledging, understanding, and motivating these generations can prove to be more difficult than generations of the past. Because of this, workplaces in our country are experiencing elevated levels of attrition, decreased motivation, and limited-to-no engagement from employees. Employee engagement can repair these problems while also playing a significant role in increased customer satisfaction which leads to a positive reputation for your business. 

In the words of David Zimmer, of The Employee Engagement Network: “Employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognized connections to strategy, roles, performance, organization, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, and happiness to leverage, sustain, and transform work into results.”  Here we have outlined five ways we feel are important to keeping this new generation engaged and motivated every day when they come to work.  

Provide Security 

Enhance Competition

Digitize the Workplace

Promote Purpose & Responsibility

Provide Strong, Honest, and Transparent Leadership

 

Provide Security  

Younger Millennials and Gen Z were still only children during major events in our country such as 9/11 and the Great Recession. Many of them may have even seen their parents living in fear and struggling financially through these times. Furthermore, a sizable portion of their lives may have been defined by said struggles. It is because of this their motivations tend to lean more towards security rather than just money to ensure a secure and comfortable life outside of their employment. ZIZO is the perfect tool to provide an in-depth look into their future career path and expectations with incredibly specific and obtainable goals for years to come.  

If your company is not offering this kind of job security, these generations will always be looking for a backup plan or greener pastures elsewhere. Be sure to keep open lines of communication between management and employees to ensure they know how valuable their role is for the company. By feeling and knowing their value they will feel compelled to stay engaged and with that will come a natural increase in performance.  

Enhance Competition   

Millennials and Gen Z may have different motivations while at work but there is (at least) one common theme – Competition. While Millennials tend to lean more toward collaborative and teamwork environments, Gen Z tends to have a better understanding of the need for constant individual improvement and development at work to remain relevant. ZIZO’s contest and tournament platform is designed to nurture both Millennials’ and Gen Z’s desire to be recognized and rewarded both as an individual and even as a team.  

Whether as a team for Millennials or individually for Gen Z, ZIZO caters to the natural strong work ethic by both groups. However, they do expect to be rewarded for their hard work. To foster strong camaraderie amongst employees, raise the motivation of your staff, and improve the overall work environment, friendly competition is an absolute must when it comes to keeping your Millennial and Gen Z workers engaged.  

Digitize The Workplace 

Millennials and Gen Z have unique relationships with our digital world. Millennials, while still growing up in a world of landlines and dial-up internet, can sometimes find themselves relating more to Baby Boomers than Gen Z when it comes to new and modern technology. Gen Z, on the other hand, has been living in a world of smartphones and free Wi-Fi for as long as they can remember. Gen Z employees tend to better embrace the modernization of the workplace to help grow in their careers. Thankfully, ZIZO’s easy-to-use gamification platform caters to the needs of both generations to keep them engaged and motivated. Understanding and recognizing the differences between these generations is the only way to maximize employee performance and show that your company is providing every opportunity necessary for each person to excel and grow in 2021 and beyond.  

Promote Purpose and Responsibility 

It is human nature to need to feel that there is a clearly defined purpose to their jobs. A clearly defined mission from a business is the first step to creating an environment that allows employees to do their job to the best of their abilities. Michael Fontana, director of OptionBox Limited explains “By giving employees plenty of opportunities to progress within your company, you can increase employee retention because your teams will realize they could have a career at your business rather than just another job.” ZIZO allows businesses to easily share goals, achievements, and information that helps each employee find their spoke on the big wheel. Once an employee feels that they have an established purpose within the company they will be more likely to remain engaged and motivated, even during times of struggle.  

Provide Strong, Honest, and Transparent Leadership 

Finally, employees experience their organization through their leadership. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is necessary for keeping today’s workforce motivated. Gen Z and Millennials both demand individualized respect. They want to see leadership that embraces diversity within the workplace and, while it may sound cliche, provides equal opportunities across the board. Disrespect or dishonesty shown toward any employee breeds distrust and therefore destroys collaboration and honest communication. Respect and recognition matter from all directions -peers, managers, policies, systems, and leaders.  

A major struggle plaguing the modern workforce is the feeling like they are not a part of a business’ larger picture. Millennials and Gen Z will become more invested in the future of the business when they are able to see what is happening around and above them at work. It is important that Millennials and Gen Z feel involved with a company’s growth and success. ZIZO helps management keep their employees informed with a 360-degree view of important data that helps make workers feel part of the big picture. Remember, transparency goes beyond just day-to-day statistics. Transparency can mean management sharing and discussing long-term goals for a company, or even creating an environment in which employees are allowed to discuss and share feedback to their superiors about ways they can be more effective at their jobs. Nobody wants to feel like they are left on the outside looking in. Transparency increases engagement which in-turn makes each employee invested in the overall success of their company. 

Just as it is important for Generation X and Baby Boomers to adapt to our modern world, it is equally as important for businesses to adapt to the strengths of the current up-and-coming generations. Millennial and Gen Z workers must know what is expected of them from work, have the proper materials and tools to properly do their job the right way, and receive the recognition they deserve for their work. Engagement is imperative of their success that they believe in their company’s mission and that they are committed to doing quality work.  

 

Hopefully, one lesson learned is that our younger generation does not need to be treated like children to stay engaged at work. As Millennials and Gen Z grow and move into management, their influence expands. Their individual needs matter and they have never needed Ping-Pong or beer at work. They need engagement. And when they get it, their employee experience can change extraordinarily fast, allowing them to achieve extraordinary business results.  

How to Motivate Your Employees

How to Motivate Your Employees

how to motivate your employees

Recognize Wins

Set Clear Goals

Have Fun

Provide Positive Leadership

Promote Fairness and Reward Accordingly

According to a recent study by HubSpot, 69% of employees report that they would be more motivated at work if they felt better appreciated. This stat is concerning on a few levels; first, that is a huge percentage of employees who feel like their motivation at work is lacking, and beyond that, over half of the employees polled did not feel appreciated! In today’s world of individualism and competition for talent, there is no room for undervaluing good employees.

The more motivated your employees are, the more engaged they become with their work. This is crucial in today’s workforce where only 36% of employees report being engaged at work, despite statistics that supports 21% higher profitability in companies with a highly engaged workforce!

 

Recognize Wins

37% of employees rank recognition as their top motivator. The form of recognition which motivates individuals the most varies from case to case, but one thing is for sure – employees want to be recognized somehow. Varying the delivery and timing of recognition is a great way to appeal to all styles of employees.

When an employee does a good job, recognize that event by highlighting the positive impacts they it has on the organization. In addition to making your employee feel appreciated, it also underlines their impact on the bigger picture – improving culture all together.

The key to maximizing the positive effects of recognition and rewards is variety. Tap into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors with varied rewards. Some employees motivation is very much sparked from within – which requires external reinforcement in the form of praise, one-on-one positive feedback, and perceived status on their team.

Other team members require more extrinsic rewards for motivation. This can range of intangible rewards like public recognition, placing first in a leaderboard, or winning a contest to tangible rewards like prizes or bonuses. Keep in mind that variety is especially important when utilizing extrinsic rewards. Different items hold different value to everyone, and for the reward to be as effective as possible, you need to ensure you offer options to appeal to all your employees.

Set Clear Goals

No one likes spinning their wheels to no avail. It is difficult for employees to stay motivated if they do not know what direction they are headed in. Without a greater understanding of their long and short-term goals and what constitutes as good performance, complacency sets in.

Nip this issue in the bud by providing clear expectations, career maps, and benchmark goals for employees to strive to reach. Each time an employee achieves a goal, it triggers a motivation boost that keeps them moving in a positive direction.

Have Fun

Fun at work can be tricky – no one likes an overly happy workmate, and sometimes real talk and serious work is the only way to get something accomplished. However, just like there is a time and place for tough love and grinding away, there is also a big place for fun and positivity!

In fact, happiness has been proven to raise business productivity by 31%, not a number to sneeze at! Positive work experiences and relationships have a direct impact on success, motivation, engagement, and productivity. Shifting to a more positive and fun environment is one of the simplest ways to make a big impact!

Providing little breaks throughout the day where employees can relax and enjoy time with each other is a great way to build community and increase their desire to do well for their team. Ensure that the community involves everyone! Managers, ensure that you take the time to get to know your employees, check in on them, talk to them about work and life and show them that you really care. This promotes a culture of employees who feel cared about, comfortable, and happy!

In addition, providing a good employee experience underlines the idea that you care about your team. This shows them that they matter to you and/or their company and improves their motivation to perform.

Provide Positive Leadership

It isn’t enough to provide a fun and positive atmosphere for your employees – you need to walk the walk! Leadership should act as a prime example for your team and set the tone for a positive and motivated workforce.

Empower your leaders (and yourself) to approach their jobs with a positive and understanding approach – and don’t keep it a secret! Create a plan to communicate the company’s goals, values, and new directions with the entire team. Transparency breeds trust and a sense of belonging, both of which are crucial for happy employees.

Furthermore, instill trust in your employees. To one extent or another, employees want a sense of independence at work. They spend their days mastering their tasks and learning everything that they can to do the best job – show them that you see this! Take cues from them on their expertise and bolster their confidence at work by acknowledging that they know best when it comes to their specific job.  

Promote Fairness and Reward Accordingly

Of course, we can provide you with the most amazing tips in the world – but if your team doesn’t feel like you’re being fair and equitable, you won’t see much of a benefit. Feelings of favoritism and distrust are sure ways to lose your employees faith in you, and their desire to perform well for you.

Just like transparency in leadership is crucial to gaining your teams trust, so is transparency in rewards! Work with your team to develop a culture of fairness that rewards employees for wins in an objective way.

How to Set KPIs for Your Business in 4 Simple Steps

How to Set KPIs for Your Business in 4 simple steps

What is a KPI?

Setting KPIs for Your Business

Step 1: Educate Yourself

Step 2: Evaluate Your Current KPIs

Step 3: Set Measurable Goals 

Step 4: Work with Your Team

Final Advice

We all measure success differently, especially when running a business. Since COVID began the way workplaces operate has drastically changed. With more people working remote and less in-person meetings, sometimes the end goal is lost. Working outside of the office removes the constant reminders of a company’s goals, which can play a negative role in the growth of a business.

Even prior to COVID it has always been a difficult task to keep employees engaged and on target. The question is how do you keep everyone moving in the right direction? How do we properly communicate to our employees what the corporate goals are, and earn their buy-in to the achieve those goals?

This is where KPIs come in and learning how to set them properly can take your business to the next level. Too often, people are using the wrong KPIs or not using KPIs that they should be. Setting the proper KPIs for your business will remove all the guesswork and give you definitive data to help drive not only your business’s success but employee’s success as well.

What is a KPI?

Before jumping into how to set your KPIs we should start by defining what a KPI is. KPI, short for key performance indicator, is a way of measuring and evaluating the success of an organization, team or individual. Think of a KPI as lights that guide you through a dark tunnel. This helps to lead everyone in the right direction and keep them on the path to success. This will not only help your employees but also your business. To learn more about KPIs and why they matter click here to read The Top 5 Reasons WHY KPI’s Matter to Your Business.

Good And Bad KPIs

Now that you know what a KPI is, let’s evaluate what good and bad KPIs look like. Often times a KPI is misunderstood and are too broad. Not setting proper KPIs can cause your team to go off track which will lead to poor results and targets not being met. Some examples of bad KPIs being used are:

  • Implement new payment portal by November
  • Win sales support award
  • Customer survey

The above examples are just a few of the many examples of a bad KPI. The first is a milestone which gives an indication of how a project progresses, but this is not performance based. The second example is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways. Lastly, the third one is just a tool used to collect data. All of these examples are not true performance measures. They are not clear, concrete or quanitifiable. This leads to confusion and data that does not truly help your business.

A Good KPI will be clearly defined and have actionable targets. As previously mentioned, a KPI is like a series of lights that guides you through a dark tunnel. Each light is like a checkpoint along the way to your end goal. You want to keep you and your team on track to reach the end of the tunnel before the lights go out. This is where a good KPI comes in to help drive everyone on the team in the right direction. We discussed what a bad KPI is but below are some examples of good KPIs:

  • Monthly sales growth
  • Sales by lead source
  • Traffic from organic search

All of these examples are clearly defined and quantifiable. This gives you and your employees something to clearly measure/track. These examples are just a few of the many KPIs out there. Use these as a guide but we will need to dig a little more to decide what the best KPIs are for your business.

Setting KPIs For Your Business

Now for the part you all have been waiting for; I promise I didn’t have you read through all that other stuff just to be let down. Everything leading up to this point is important to understand. By knowing what a KPI is and what makes up a good or bad KPI this gives you a strong foundation. From this point you are able to really analyze your business and make a calculated decision. Below I have listed some steps to help you setup KPIs for your team or business. You’ve already completed some of these steps just by reading this.

Step 1: Educate Yourself 

The information I have provided you earlier will give you a great start! When setting KPIs, understanding what they are and how they should work is crucial. However, don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. The more you know and understand KPIs the better and easier it will be to set KPIs for your business. No one will truly understand your business better than you so use that to your advantage when selecting KPIs.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Current KPIs

If you already have KPIs in place or some form of performance measurement you should take the time to look them over. Decide which you feel are beneficial and which you should remove. It will be worth your time and effort to evaluate your existing KPIs and make an educated choice about what is working and what isn’t. Now that you have learned more about KPIs you may view things in a different angle. A slight adjustment may take your current bad KPI and turn it into a good KPI.

Step 3: Set Measurable Goals

Be transparent with your employees about what you are looking for. Don’t leave anything up for question when setting your KPIs, the goals need to be clearly defined so that everyone is on the same page. KPIs are not one size fits all, as business goals vary from business to business. While there may be some overlap it is important to understand what your specific business objectives are. Do not just search for the best KPIs to use and role with it. You will need to figure out what exactly what matters to your business and what needs to happen for you to achieve your goals. This will require a little bit of work but ultimately will be worth it in the end.

Step 4: Work with Your Team

Without the support of the people running your teams, KPIs will just get ignored. Help them to understand the importance of this. Sit down with all parties involved such as managers or analysts to further discuss what goals they see as important. During these conversations you will quickly find what business processes should be measured. Take this information and match them with how measuring these objectives will help your business. Involving multiple levels of your team in the planning process will ensure everyone is on board, which will help provide accurate data and lead to better communication.

Some Final Advice

Businesses are constantly growing and changing. Your goals today may not be the same as they will be tomorrow. Be prepared to make adjustments if need be. Stay agile and keep in close contact with your leadership team. Communication throughout the business is one of the most crucial parts to ensure success. Throughout the process of setting your business KPIs communication plays a major role. You will need to remain in communication to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Checking in periodically to see if anything has changed or any updates can be provided. Setting proper KPIs will help you keep a strong foundation no matter what happens. If you use the steps outlined above, you will have a great start to setting KPIs for your business.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment During COVID

The COVID Workplace Problem:

Do you remember it? That special time in our lives, when dining in crowded restaurants was in vogue, hugging the friends we bumped into was a pleasure, and when arena seating at concerts and sporting events was just a natural part of our lives? There was so much freedom, confidence and connection with others in our world. Then one day, this nasty little bug called COVID-19 came around and completely disrupted our existence. Businesses closed, weddings and parties were prohibited, and just try to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer during quarantine.

Masks are now part of our DMO, friends get an elbow instead of a hug, and restaurants that are now ½ full (or ½ empty depending on your view) are required to sanitize our tables before and after we can use them. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure about concerts or sporting events at this point! One thing that is certain, is that our lives have changed and our new normal has become filled with a bit of uncertainty and apprehension. How can we get past this?

While we can say that change is always a sign of the times, one thing that hasn’t changed is our need to connect as human beings. But, how? You’ve most likely seen all of battles that take place over opinions on social media, social distancing seems to be another wedge that can push us further apart as people “if” we let it. As quarantines are lifted and people begin returning back to work, the over-abundance of information, misinformation and opinions can lead to even more uncertainty as health concerns and logistics become the fore-front of our thinking. Tensions can run high and a whole new layer of stress can be added to our day, again, “if” we let it. New methods and technologies are required for a work force that exists onsite and now, online.

 

 

How Can We Create a More Positive Experience in the Workplace?

Okay, I suppose I’ve poked the bear enough for now. The real question is, how do we create a more positive and experience in our workplace during these times of COVID? Well, I thought you’d never ask! This is a bit tricky to answer at first, but as we dig into what drives our behaviors and emotions, we’ll start to identify just what it takes to fulfill some of our basic human needs. From there, we’ll have a much better opportunity in fulfilling the needs of a larger number of people and therefore creating conditions that aid in producing a more positive experience for the greater majority.

 

 

The Science Behind the Solutions:

As a student of the human spirit and a practitioner in modalities such as, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), hypnosis, personal training, meditation, as well as being scrum master of multiple teams, I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years to educate and help them produce positive results in their personal and professional lives.

Every person looks at life through their own lens and sees it their own way. While this can be wildly different among people, psychologist Abraham Maslow broke down our human needs into five basic categories. These include:

1. Physiological – our basic survival needs, such as food, water, breathing, etc.

2. Safety – Health and wellness, shelter, employment security, stability, free from injury

3. Social – Family, friendships, romantic partnerships, groups, and communities.

4. Esteem – Respect and appreciation for and from others, feelings of accomplishment.

5. Self-Actualization – Achieving one’s full potential with one’s talents and being.

 

It’s easy to see from the above pyramid how survival and safety needs can occupy the foundation of our existence, however as we continue higher up the pyramid, our needs become more complex by adding in values, beliefs, traditions and personalized viewpoints. These perceptions become the relationships between our inner and outer worlds. Motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins has further broken down our human relationship needs into 6 different areas. These are:

  • Certainty – a feeling of confidence in a particular situation.
  • Variety – a feeling, of doing something different or change
  • Significance – a feeling that you are an important part of something.
  • Love /Connection – a feeling of deep caring and/or rapport with others
  • Growth – a feeling of moving beyond our current state. The ability to improve.
  • Contribution – a feeling of giving of oneself.

As individuals, these needs not only have a different priority of importance to each of us, but we also apply completely different sets of rules in how we believe they can be achieved. Let’s take significance for a moment. When you compare it to certainty, love / connection or growth, which carries more importance to you? Can you think of a time you felt truly significant in a relationship? What happened for you to feel this way? Did someone tell you, do something, give you something, or was it an internal knowing you had? How often does this need to happen for you to feel significant? Now, simply change the relationship from work related to romantic or vise-versa. Did your answers change? You see, your answers are your rules. They’re different for everyone and can change depending on the situation.

In the above two lists, the greater the number of personal needs that are met for us in our lives, the stronger we value our relationships and thus, the more positive and fulfilling our experiences become.

 

14 Ways to Foster Wellness in the Workplace:

With everyone so different, how can we apply these thoughts into creating a positive work experience? At ZiZo we’ve incorporated many of these thoughts into our gamification tools. By fostering an attitude of growth, esteem, communication and education, along with fun, a friendly sense of competition, and reward based achievement, our goal is to help create a unified workforce that focuses not only on production, but on building careers and establishing personnel that invests into their own growth as well as the growth of the team.

Whether your team is on-site or working remotely, here are some tips in creating a more positive experience in the workplace during this COVID period and beyond. These tips have been organized in a way to help handle some of our basic human and relationship needs. You’ll notice that there is a cross-over between them.

1. Setting up clear communication to express your strategies during a crisis.

What’s going on? Have you heard anything about…? Just how do your employees get their information? Without a unified point of communication as well as timely updates, information that is spread by word of mouth can quickly become misinformation. Consider setting up centralized points (online and offline) for employees to receive clear and consistent info with updates that affect your business. Fear can be a strong motivator. Nip it in the bud before it blossoms out of control.

2. Using team communication tools such as Slack.

Tools such as Slack are wonderful for team communication. General, individual and team specific channels can include up to 2000 people for text, video and phone communication. All posting privileges can be regulated, so important announcements can remain uncluttered and without comments. This can help instill employee confidence by providing direct contact and company-wide communication. Keep in mind, too many updates are just that. Too much! Reading a plethora of emails or “important” posts can add stress and a sense of overwhelm as employees attempt to keep up.

3. Respecting social distancing and masks

Let’s face it, masks are a pain. Then again, COVID can be a much bigger one. Implementing government guidelines shows responsiveness and builds trust that you’re working to provide a safe environment. As quarantines and guidelines lessen, allowing employees to remain wearing masks, sanitizing workstations and social distancing (where possible) ensures continued confidence that safety measures will remain in place until the crisis passes. Let them know you’ve got their backs!

4. Leaders – time to take the lead

In times of uncertainty, confidence breeds confidence. Share your plan. Get all upper-management onboard and speak about your mission and vision. Include the workforce in your vision and allow them to be part of the bigger picture. Offer your words of encouragement and express plans on how jobs are going to be kept. Then go to numbers 5 & 6.

5. Set up clear communication for workers to express their concerns.

You will never understand the fears and concerns of your employees if you don’t hear them. Set up a forum where workers can ask questions and voice their concerns. Send out surveys and get opinions. If you ask, be prepared to address and act. Actions reinforce the significance of others. Repetition establishes a sense of certainty.

6. Set up clear communication for workers – Part II

Engagement: Offer a way for employees to make positive suggestions to improve company performance and conditions. Online boards such as Trello offer great ways for teams to share progress and ideas. Reward the great suggestions by publicly acknowledging them and then act on them. Action means you’ve taken the comments seriously, and that the employees are a significant part of the team.

7. Daily stand-up meetings

In the spirit of Scrum, daily meetings are used to share information among teams that typically consist of anywhere between 3 and 9 members. These team meetings are strictly held to 15 minutes and while standing, team members answer three specific questions.

1. What work did you do yesterday to help the team?
2. What will do today to help the team?
3. Do you have any roadblocks or impediments that will slow or stop your progress?

Meetings are held at the same time every day and a scrum master facilitates them. Any roadblocks are noted and addressed after the meeting. Any additional issues are tabled and handled by the appropriate team members after the meeting. This is a great way for the team to share progress and accountability. After the meeting, teams are encouraged to share ideas in improving productivity. This will benefit all industries.

8. Consider virtual coffee breaks and happy hours – planned and unplanned.

During the height of quarantine in New York, my wife and I invited some friends over for a wine and movie night. While that may have raised an eyebrow or two, we did this completely virtual. We selected a movie (stand-up comedy actually) on a streaming network, hit play at the same time, all while our laptops streamed our faces. We were able to see each other’s reactions in real time and hadn’t laughed quite that hard in a long time. Try setting up a virtual water cooler with Zoom or Gotomeetings where people can pop in and out at random times and interact with whoever happens to be there. This is another way to help create and maintain human connection at a time where it’s been limited. The randomness of the moment can help add variety to the day.

9. Offer mental health relief from stress and anxiety

Can we talk? I’ve personally been meditating on and off since the early 90’s. I’ve also been teaching classes and courses on it for nearly 10 years. The past few semesters, I have been invited to teach it at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Let me say, that I don’t meditate to be a better meditator. I meditate, because it makes me better at living my life. I’m more productive and more at peace than I’ve ever been. While those years haven’t been completely without stress (sometimes quite the opposite), the stress has been a temporary condition and not a chronic response. Try offering meditation, mindfulness, tai chi, chi gong, yoga, hypnosis or anything else that can calm the mind and body. People need this!

10. Create a transparent work path

We all have our strengths and weaknesses in life. Sometimes we try so hard to make improvements, only to find our wheels spinning in the dirt. In business, our strengths are usually indicated by our performance in a given area. (called performance indicators or PI) However, some of those PIs aren’t key to the department and/or industry we are in. The ones that are key are called KPI or Key Performance Indicators. While success has different meanings for each of us, we all want to grow and be better at what we do. Wouldn’t it had been nice, if while working our way through the ranks, somewhere along the way, someone would have said, “This is what you need to do”? “This is where you’ll growth, and here is your greatest earning potential.”

Spend some time as you restructure to this new normal and define 3 to 5 KPIs that define the qualities that your top performing people achieve on a consistent basis, then offer a path to help educate, inspire and reward your workforce in all becoming top performers.

11. Friendly competitions to receive real rewards and benefits

In the previous suggestion, I mentioned that a person can have PIs that are not quite key to the department they are working in. As an example, think of someone on your sales staff with strong art skills. The ability to draw or play an instrument is great, but it doesn’t assist them in performing their tasks. What if there was a way to leverage some of their abilities and reward

them in the process? Well, you can. If your marketing department is preparing a new campaign and you’d like to engage the staff in this new vision, offering a friendly competition in design or creation is a great way to do this. Be creative yourself by offering gifts or bonuses that are special, such as time off, dinner with the boss, or monetary incentives. Remember, even a chicken scratch of a brilliant idea is still a brilliant idea!

12. Shout-outs to give credit where credit is due.

I heard a long time ago, that what you tell a person can be forgotten rather quickly. What you do for a person, has much more longevity, but can be forgotten over time. However, when you change the way a person feels, they’ll remember you for a lifetime. Statistically, people will invest much more time and emotion into something for gratitude, acceptance and recognition, than they will for money. Publicly acknowledging others for their work is a huge boost in confidence, connection, certainty and esteem. It will also show growth and allow for contribution. Win–Win!

13. Online learning / courseware

There are so many tools available online today that can help your workforce grow. Websites like, LinkedIn learning, Udemy and Coursera offer hundreds of courses and classes that are technology driven and industry specific. Take a look to see what courses are right for your organization and approve some content for employee learning. Remember, shout-outs, incentives and rewards go a long way when they coupled with a path for growth. A creative competition can always add that extra element of fun and connection. They say that the cream always rises to the top, but without the opportunity to rise, it will always stay hidden in the mix! This is a great opportunity for self-actualization and growth. Having employees train others in there talents offers contribution, growth, significance and esteem.

14. Last but not least – Exercise / Health and Wellness

There is a huge difference between fitness and health. Fitness has to do with our ability to perform certain tasks such as in sports, moving objects, running, jumping, etc. Health is our wellbeing and the condition of our body and body function. You can be very healthy and not too fit, and on the other hand, you can be very fit and not too healthy. When it comes to fitness or health, not many people know where to even start to improve their conditions. Offering exercise trainers, nutritionists, healthy recipes, company cookbooks, even corporate walks for a good cause can inspire health and wellness in the workforce. Corporate challenges for the most changed, most improved, most consecutive days in the gym can be rewarded as well as inspiration for others. When the body improves, the mind and attitude follows. When the mind and attitude improve, the body follows as well.

Thank you for reading. I’m wishing you all healthy and productive journey!

The Psychology of Workplace Gamification

  • The Neuroscience of Psychology
  • Reticular Activating System
  • Patterns in Learning
  • Gamification of the Workplace

In my last blog <insert title link here>, I spoke a great deal about our most basic human needs. This included needs such as, certainty, variety, significance, connection, safety, esteem, and contribution. I also touched on other topics including transparent work paths, communication, growth and self-actualization. In this blog, I’d like to continue along those same lines of thought and talk a bit about some of the drivers behind our human experience and how gamification can be successful in developing our workforce.

When it comes to gamification, I think it’s safe to say that not all games are created equal. I’d venture to say the same about our perceptions as individuals. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and many times those attributes are supported solely by the personal perceptions we hold about them. I’ll venture a little further to say that the internal beliefs we have, generate emotion and it’s the emotional state of a person that governs performance in their lives, loves and livelihoods.

You’ve most likely heard it before, that our basic human motivation comes down to either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain. Yet, haven’t we seen some people do some incredibly painful things without apparently receiving any pleasure? Why is that, and what is it that motivates their behavior? The simple answer is emotion. Emotions can either be the driving force behind our “knee-jerk” reactions, or that subtle inner voice that encourages us to grow. Then again, it can also be the voice that says we’re not good enough for so much growth… at least, not at this time. With perception being reality, we all have the capacity to launch ourselves into greatness or fall into failure with merely our thoughts and the emotions that fuel them.

The Neuroscience of Psychology

How can we move beyond the way we think and feel?

To answer that, let’s first talk a little bit about neuroscience and how the brain and mind work together. If we look at the brain as a physical organ and the mind as the operations of the brain, we can begin to see how the mind works on multiple levels with the brain. Zooming out to a 10,000 ft view, a simplified, yet helpful overview of the brain, is known as the Triune Model, (by Physician and Neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean) Here, our brain is broken down into three distinct sections that signify some of the underlying processes of the body and mind. They are:

The Paleocortex
The Limbic System
The Neocortex

(Please notice some of the natural crossovers that occur within these sections.)

Paleocortex
Zooming in, the Paleocortex or Reptilian Brain, which includes the cerebellum and brainstem, houses all of our unconscious code. This is the most ancient part of the brain which handles all autonomic body functions such as breathing, heart rate, core body temperature and orientation in space. Driven by instinct and survival, this part of the brain continues to follow the same patterns of behavior without having the capability to learn from its mistakes. Just like the CPU on a motherboard of a computer, it contains the basic coding to operate the system, but lacks the software that produces higher functionality, logic and meaning. Here our basic level of thought and desire asks questions like: Is it family, friend, or foe? Can I mate with it? Can I eat it or is it going to eat me?

Limbic System
The Limbic system is a layer of brain matter that wraps around the paleocortex and houses the emotional centers of the brain. At its most basic level, it’s a safety mechanism that deals with our fight, flight and freeze responses. This system works in conjunction with our autonomic processes to release hormones during times of stress/distress called the sympathetic nervous response. It also releases a different set of hormones in times of rest, digestion and healing, called the parasympathetic nervous response. This layer of mind bridges information between our conscious and subconscious thoughts. In order to protect the body from harm, responses from the limbic can happen so quickly, that it can completely bypass our conscious level of awareness. Just think of a time when a bee may have landed on your arm, and you quickly jerked away from it before you had any idea of what it was. So, contrary to the paleocortex, the Limbic System remembers the dangers in life (aka our traumatic experience) and stores them for recall. Our senses subconsciously scan for anything that resembles those experiences to react quickly when they are noticed.

Neocortex
The neocortex or conscious brain is the newest evolutionary part of our brain that completes the triune model. It’s typically the last to know and least informed member of the brain family. It has great difficulty in multitasking and can only process 7 (+ or – 2) events at any given time. It needs to have its focus directed to events in order to perceive them. As a brief example, look around the room and find one object that is red. When you find it, just look at it for a moment and then tell me about the air temperature, or the weight of your clothes on your skin or perhaps the weight of your bottom on your chair. You see, chances are your conscious mind was not focused on any of those things until I directed your attention to them. Yet at the same time your subconscious mind was taking in and recording over 40 million bits of information every single second. Amazing!

As a way to keep us safe and alive, a system of organelles within these sections of the brain constantly and subconsciously scan for danger. This is called the Reticular Activating System or RAS. Of the many things the RAS accomplishes, one of its main features is to filter our perceptions by bringing our focus to that which we believe to be important, dangerous or relevant to our emotional state of being. Simply put, if we are in resourceful emotional states, the RAS will bring things into focus that support that state. If we are in an unresourceful emotional state, the RAS will help us maintain that state by literally disregarding any sensory information

that conflicts with the emotion. Here’s a brief example. You’re running late for a meeting and if you don’t leave right now, you’ll not make it there on time. The problem is, you’ve misplaced your car keys. They’re not where you normally keep them, so you go running around the house frantically searching for them. You check every single room from top to bottom (knowing that they would never be in some of the places you search). You exhaust every possibility and in a moment of defeat, you walk back into the 1st room you checked, and they were sitting on top of your briefcase. Right where you put them and in plain sight so you wouldn’t forget them. Because you never put them there and expected them NOT to be there, your eyes saw them, but the RAS disregard them before sending the information to your conscious brain. This happens constantly and one of the reasons why the subconscious brain can take in 40 million bits of information a second and the conscious brain can only focus on 7 (+ or – 2) events at any given time.

The key to our conscious mind is through our focus, while the key to our subconscious mind is through our patterns. As we learn, we go through phases of focus and patterns that build our skills in life. This includes not only our abilities, but it includes our learned behaviors, beliefs, emotional patterns, and habits. The conscious mind is our focus and the subconscious is our patterns. You might want to read those last few sentences one more time. Let it sink in. Let’s move forward and talk about some of the how’s and why’s behind our learning processes.

There is so much to the inner workings of our brain than the triune model suggests. Here are a few takeaways from the above information that I’d like you to consider.

Our minds and bodies are geared for safety.
Our emotions can override our need to stay safe.
Our experience is filtered.
All learning is subconscious and happens through emotion and/or repetition.

Patterns in Learning

Allow me to ask you, do you believe you can learn any anything? Before you fully answer, have you ever studied a subject or have been presented with an idea that you just didn’t quite get? Maybe it was something that you “had” to learn, and wasn’t very excited about it, or perhaps you didn’t connect with the teaching style or delivery of information. Maybe you told yourself that it’s too difficult, or “you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Well, if you tell yourself that on enough occasions, you have a great possibility in believing it to be true. But then, after a lot of hard work, studying and repetition, it finally started to come together in your head. On the other hand, haven’t you ever made a “dumb” or “embarrassing” mistake that you vowed never to repeat? Lesson learned instantly. What was the difference? The main difference between the two examples was in the emotion. Emotions tend to have an instant effect on the subconscious mind and the subconscious is where all learning takes place. Repetition also impresses upon our subconscious thoughts. There is a law in science, called The Law of Innervation. This simply means that when a nerve fiber is traversed or activated to the exclusion of others, each time this occurs it becomes easier to traverse that same path. So, think muscle memory with this at the gym. We lift a weight and focus on our form. Every time we do this, it becomes easier to get our form correct. Eventually, our body become so accustomed to the weight and form we require more weight to achieve the same amount of difficulty. The exact same thing happens with our habitual thoughts, beliefs and patterns of habit.

When it comes to learning, our goal is to focus our conscious efforts until the “muscle memory” becomes second nature or subconscious. Here are 4 steps in skill building that I’ve modified from motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins.

· Level 1: Unconsciously Unskilled/Unlearned

· Level 2: Consciously Unskilled/Unlearned

· Level 3: Consciously Skilled/Learning

· Level 4: Subconsciously Skilled/Learned

Unconsciously Unskilled/Unlearned

In level 1, we don’t know what we don’t know. We are unaware of the skills we are lacking or that we are lacking them in the 1st place. Like a baby being unaware they don’t know how to drive a car, they are simply put in and taken out of the vehicle at different places by their parents.

Consciously Unskilled/Unlearned

In level 2, we become aware of what we don’t know. Here, the young child becomes aware that they are being driven around and that they don’t know how to drive the vehicle. They are not actively learning; they just notice they do not have the ability.

Consciously Skilled/Learning

In level 3, the work begins as we consciously focus on the skill. The child, (hopefully a young adult now), begins to learn the process of driving. They are made aware of all of the strategies in traffic, parking and vehicle operation. They adjust their seats and mirrors, put their foot on the brake, turn the key, check for traffic, turn the wheel, check the mirrors again, hit the gas, all while dodging stray pedestrians and staying between the lines… Holy cow! They are so focused that they say, “Just how many things as we expected to do at any one time? Don’t talk to me or even turn that radio on, because you’re making me nervous!” But then after some time and effort as the process continues, patterns begin developing and the driver starts moving into level 4.

Subconsciously Skilled/Learned

In level 4, our focused tasks have been accomplished enough to the point where we don’t need to fully concentrate on our ability. There’s no longer the need to review steps or analyze our performance. The skill becomes engrained enough into the subconscious, that the body subconsciously responds to conditions as multitasking begins to occur. The driver checks their mirrors without being reminded. They automatically use their blinkers as they prepare to turn. (Well, some of us do.) They multi-task with the ability to have a conversation or listen to the radio as they drive. If you’ve ever driven somewhere and upon arriving realize that you can recall the last few miles, take a guess who was driving. Yup, it was your subconscious mind operating the vehicle which allowed your conscious mind to daydream, have a conversation, or ponder upon other subjects.

The largest contributors to long term learning therefore lies in the repetition of action as well as any peak emotional state. (positive or negatively charged)

Gamification of the Workplace

So, now let’s talk about gamification and tie all of these pieces together. Typically, as employers our biggest investment will always be our workforce. We spend thousands of hours and ten times that in dollars, grooming them into their desired positions. A great game will not only reduce those training numbers considerably, but it will guide the productivity of the employee, transparently track their growth, highlight a career path, and reward you both along the way. By covering all of our basic human needs a great gamification system will help to create a happy and productive workforce that has longevity and growth. Here’s how.

1. Certainty:

This human condition has to do with safety. Great gamification systems allow the user the freedom and ability of choice of engagement and their focus or direction of growth. This keeps the user in control and fosters feelings of confidence. As the user becomes better at the “game”, their growth will allow them to naturally stretch to accomplish more.

2. Variety:

When the same old thing becomes the same old thing, people want change. Adding variations in gameplay and rewards will certainly keep things from getting boring. Adding elements of surprise can guide people to move out of their comfort zones and boost their desire to achieve.

3. Significance:

This a major component to a great gamification system. It includes promoting esteem, self-esteem, self-actualization and creating and environment of team collaboration and comradery. People love to feel special and will go through great lengths to achieve it. Significance and exclusivity can be expressed in a myriad of ways during gameplay. This includes special avatars, badges, achievement rewards, trophies, etc., and including social rewards such as public congratulations, unveiling of prizes and shout-outs from team members and co-workers goes a long way in making a person feel significant.

4. Love / Connection:

Connection with others comes in many sizes and shapes. As in significance, the social aspect of connecting with your teammates and competing together toward common goals goes a long way. A great gamification model will allow users to join teams and share the rewards of their results… together.

5. Growth:

I’ve heard it said, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. How do you know if you’re growing? It’s easy provide predictable and trackable achievements. When you lay out the expectations of where a person should be in their career, it’s like creating a map with a GPS. It allows the user to see exactly where they are and where they need to go. It literally renders stopping for directions or driving in circles a thing of the past. Just ask my wife! A great gamification model will show the path, track the growth, and reward the user for it. Everybody wins!

6. Engagement:

This last condition involves many of the other conditions because the reasons for engagement are personalized by the needs of the individual. With that said, by incorporating the other elements in a gaming system on a daily basis, dopamine (the reward system of the brain) is consistently activated with the daily repetition. Patterns and good habits develop. This inspires more confidence, certainty, variety, connection, growth and contribution to the team. As the emotional state of the individual(s) increases, so too does their ability to accomplish more in less time. Firing on all cylinders, the individual’s engagement continues to increase, as growth and production of the entire workplace multiplies.

Thank you for taking the time to read this series. At ZiZo, we have taken great strides into considering and creating the best possible scenarios for engagement in workforce gamification. Coupled with some of the most extensive business intelligence and reporting available, you be able to zoom in and zoom out to see exactly what you need to know about your business, at exactly the time you need to see it. An intelligent simulation model offers you the ability to forecast the future growth of your company by adjusting key data that calculates scenarios intended to maximize your business growth. It’s Game Time!