Can a coin help to rebuild employee engagement?

2015

Anyone that has been paying attention lately knows that the Big Recession has done a number on employee morale and the concept of “team” has all but disappeared from the corporate vocabulary. Ill-judged survival tactics like job slashing, reduced work hours and unpaid furlough programs have taken the wind out of the sails of many employee engagement programs once aimed at improving staff satisfaction and drive.

But now the business climate seems to be improving, isn’t it time to try to re-establish a little Esprit de Corps.

By definition, winning teams share a common spirit of solidarity, enthusiasm, and devotion to a cause. All very heady stuff, when you think about it. So, do we need to design and implement sophisticated strategies to accommodate these concepts in order to regenerate a sense of team in our firms? No, a much simpler approach can be even more effective.

Enter the Coin

Any tactic that can be used to bring people together and promotes a sense of mutual identity can do the trick. Even the dissemination of a simple coin to all employees can be enough to get the ball rolling. Here’s how it works:

A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion, bearing an organization’s insignia and carried by the organization’s members. They are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. Originating in the U.S. military during World War I, the popularity of challenge coins is growing. They are becoming extremely popular with Police Departments, Fire Departments and professional sports franchises, including those in the NFL and NASCAR.

Traditionally, the coins are used by organizational members to challenge other organizational members. A challenge, which can be made at any time, begins with the challenger drawing his/her coin, and challenging everyone to produce theirs. There can be a standing monetary amount for the challenge, say a dollar or two. Those being challenged must immediately produce the coin for their organization and anyone failing to do so must pay the challenger and everyone else who has their challenge coin. However, should everyone challenged be able to produce their coin, the challenger must pay the group.

Adapting the Concept for Business Use

Clearly, a business shouldn’t be promoting gambling among its staff. The wager can be tied to a points program that allows staff to cash-in points in exchange for Company swag like logo-ware shirts, pens and baseball caps, which, in turn, promotes Company pride and a sense of community.

Imagine a scenario where in the middle of a team meeting, the leader whips out his/her coin and slaps it down on the conference room table, challenging his/her staff. Only to find that he/she needs to reward every member five logo points for having their challenge coins out and available.

This type of program can go a long way to restoring morale and a sense of “being in it together”.

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About The Author

James M. Kerr
James M. Kerr

James M. Kerr is the Global Chair of the Culture Transformation Practice at N2Growth and the author of The Executive Checklist. A specialist in organizational design and cultural transformation, he has been helping clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed for more than 25 years. Kerr’s next book is due out later in 2016 and focuses on leadership and strategy-setting.