For the past year, March of Dimes has been undertaking a major strategic realignment to improve our operational efficiency.
Part of the communication plan around the realignment project involved using a 30 day challenge to engage employees in “micro-actions” each day for thirty days. The goal of the challenge was to focus on helping the Foundation establish a more open environment for communication and problem-solving.
While not led by our intranet team, this challenge for cultural change has been an enormous success in terms of improving the adoptions and understanding of the tools available in our intranet.
To help drive traffic we posted a widget in the upper right corner for the duration of the challenge which linked to an area of the site with a deeper explanation of the driving factors behind the challenge.
We chose to use a discussion forum to post each challenge in order to keep responses organized and to make it easier to track engagement.
30 Days: Calendar or Business?
Our first struggle with the task was the literal interpretation of “30 day challenge”.
- 30 business days - should it just be called a 6 week challenge?
- 30 calendar days, including weekends – would staff really participate on a weekend?
Having already decided to kickoff the project in June, and call it a 30 day challenge, we went right down the middle and posted challenges on the 22 business days in the month (4 1/2 weeks). In hindsight, this is something you probably want to put quite a bit of thought into well before your launch date and be extremely clear in your communications, because it was a source of confusion for our staff.
Tagging & Email Notifications
Using the challenge to promote this feature was a rare opportunity to educate staff on what had been an under-utilized tool. By the end of the challenge nearly every forum post included a tag to a users department or physical office location.
Email notifications, generated from tagging, helped keep daily challenges on everyone’s mind and fostered a herd mentality where those who were tagged quickly joined the thread.
Promotion & Communication
With nearly 70% of the organization away from a desk for the majority of their day, it is wishful thinking that they will be tuned into the intranet at all times. Our communication and promotion of this initiative was done purely via our intranet and only announced on day 1 of the challenge via a kickoff announcement and a homepage widget.
Relying on staff to login to the intranet to learn that the event was taking place was probably not the best way (in hindsight) to promote the event. Should we conduct a future challenge I plan to use:
- An announcement of the event posted a week before it begins
- A daily email to staff that are not subscribed to the forums informing them of the challenge of the day and encouraging them to post their responses/experiences on the forum
- Some catchy graphics
Our intranet allows users to subscribe to entire forums, or to individual threads, and a thread reply triggers an automatic thread subscription. I love these subscription features, but in heavily utilized threads, the quantity of emails can cause some staff to get frustrated.
From the start it would be recommended to provide clear instructions about any email subscriptions your system has and ways to handle overload. We took this as an opportunity to educate our staff on how to utilize Outlook email rules to maintain an organized inbox – an invaluable lesson that many staff were unaware of. We also provided opt-out instructions.
Gamification: Leaderboards, Badges and Rewards
Let’s face it, competition is fun. So why not post a leaderboard of your most engaged employees, departments, offices – or award badges to users upon passing certain milestone!
We didn’t implement leaderboards because of concern about quality of engagement over quantity, and to be sensitive to those users that were taking part off-line. In hindsight, I feel that a leaderboard would have been helpful and that its value trumps other concerns.
The only thing that makes a competition more fun is when there is a prize at the end! A small token for the top 3 staff, offices, departments, etc., wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Below is a brief description of the challenges we posted, and the amount of engagement they triggered. Why am I providing this? When constructing our 30 day challenge we struggled to find ideas for what would make a good challenge – so consider this us paying it forward!
Here are additional challenges which we considered:
- Fill in the blank (Mad Libs style)
- Example: The company I work for reminds me of _____ and inspires me to ______
- Share something you are looking forward to happening this year
- Share something about yourself that most people don’t know
- Share something funny (joke, picture, etc)
- Share your favorite inspirational quote
- Repeat one of the challenges that you especially enjoyed
- Share your thought on the 30 day challenge – what worked well, what could have been better?
- Take your 15 minute breaks and unplug on at least one of them – walk, stretch, meditate