By nature, humans are social creatures, craving meaningful interactions with others. Often, it’s the interactions with co-workers that provides many people their daily dose of humanity, and that can go a long way toward employee satisfaction and company productivity.
But just like in our personal lives, we tend to stick to our own bubbles. Within organizations, most people don’t go out of their way to engage with colleagues in other departments they may not work closely with. On our own team, we noticed even the most outgoing individuals were finding it a challenge to strike up conversations with those they didn't interact with on a daily basis. Still, we believe cross-departmental collaboration and rapport building contribute greatly to strong company culture.
Determined to find a way to spark dialogue and company-wide engagement, our HR Director Laura Newbrough collaborated with the team to develop a solution. What they came up with has since become an annual tradition and one of the most celebrated company, widely adopted initiatives.
BINGO! We have winner
We first introduced the company-wide game of Bingo in 2019, challenging each of the department leads to create their own Bingo card. Since they were closest to each of their team members, they knew which actions and connections would best support their growth and encourage cross-departmental collaboration and skill sharing.
The game spanned a six-week period, during which teams competed to complete a Bingo, earning raffle tickets for prizes along the way. And while the prizes added to the allure of the game, that really became a secondary motivator for team members. It was more about the new skills they were learning and connections they were making in the company –– connections with individuals they might not otherwise take the time to learn about.
Taking it virtual
Though we’ve always had a number of distributed team members, the majority of our staff operated from our headquarters in Phoenix. When COVID hit, and the team was suddenly forced to go remote, we didn’t know how we’d pull off Bingo in the virtual world. But we knew the team needed it.
Laura tapped our R&D Division to build an on-line proprietary platform to manage the game and enable those now across the country to participate and interact. Now referred to as [Z]INGO, the digital game mirrors what the team would experience in person –– and it was just as big of a hit as it was the previous year.
Using PowerBI, the IT team hosts the game on the ZELUS intranet home page through SharePoint, making the game live and interactive 24/7. This also provides metrics by department and individuals, creating a digital leaderboard.
With more than 90% of the ZELUS team completing at least one Bingo, it’s proven to be our most successful team-building activity to date. It’s brought people who may normally never interact with another department together, and spurred healthy competition and conversation. As a result of various interactions through Bingo, coworkers have provided new employee referrals and even proposed new ideas that eventually made their way to our R&D department — first-hand proof that an internally connected company can lead to innovation and an externally successful business.
What may appear on the surface as just a fun game, turned into something much bigger. It’s become a way for our team to form deeper relationships, collaborate on innovation, and reinforce our commitment to our people-first culture.