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Measuring 'Funergy'

May 30, 2017 by Elnian Gilbert 0 Comments

In 2007, we rolled out the Zingerman’s 2020 Vision with much fanfare.  As the written picture of what success would look like for our organization, we included such lofty headers as "Radically Better Service," "An Education Destination," "Changing Our World" and ... "We Put the F U in Fun." In the year 2020, Zingerman’s is planning to have increased the level of fun at work by at least 380%!   

How precisely we would quantify and measure fun sparked many conversations at Zingerman’s (and you can guess how fun that was!) After all, fun at work is a very subjective idea, and one person’s idea of fun at work is someone else’s worst nightmare. Not only did 380% feel very far out of reach in 2007, we didn’t even know how to figure out where we were as a baseline. 

Ultimately, we recognized that the common underlying aspect of fun was good energy, so we shifted the conversation to focus instead on our organizational energy, which we learned from Anese Cavanaugh.  We adapted her teachings about workplace culture into the following energy management recipe, which gives us a quantifiable, teachable way to translate the idea of “energy.”

Zingerman’s Energy Recipe:

Step 1 – Read It

On a scale of zero to ten — where zero is negative, bad, unproductive, disruptive energy and a ten is positive, contagious, in-the-zone, productive energy  where would you currently score your energy level?

Step 2 – Vision It

At the end of a period of time — in a couple of hours, at the end of the day, end of a meeting, etc. — where do you want your energy level to be?

(Caveat: we’re typically not looking to vision our energy down, rather we’re working to maintain or improve our energy levels.)

Step 3 – Manage It

Do what you need to do to get to the energy level you visioned. Take a brief walk outside, step away for lunch, call your BFF – only you know the energy management necessary to raise or maintain your energy.

Step 4 – Repeat It

Our energy fluctuates throughout the day, all the time!  So this isn’t a one-and-done kind of exercise; it’s something we want to pay attention and keep responding to actively manage our energy.

While the scale of zero to ten is still subjective, energy is now a trackable metric being measured across the Zingerman’s organization, formally and informally, and on multiple scoreboards. How we track varies by business and department; some take multiple ratings a day, which are then averaged for a daily score. Others ask the team to share their energy once a week in the huddle, and the score is then recorded as a snapshot of the moment. At our Partner’s Group (essentially the bi-weekly Zingerman’s-wide huddle), Funergy is measured with a big laminated pickle that any attendee is welcome to get up and move, in the moment, to where they think the overall group energy is on that same scale of zero to ten. We haven’t figured out yet how to track energy over time, which has made verifying "380% more fun" elusive! However, by talking about, teaching and measuring our organizational definition of fun, I guarantee we have 100% raised the level of positive organizational energy at Zingerman’s.

When you walk into any Zingerman’s business through the front door or the back dock, our goal is to be the kind of place that lifts people up, makes them feel welcome and demonstrates that we’re having fun being there. I encourage you to measure your energy over the next few weeks, and let me know what impact you see on your organizational energy at The Gathering in Dallas! 

Zingerman’s 2020 Vision Excerpt: 'We Put The F U in Fun'

We have successfully quantified fun, measured fun, and improved our fun factor by at least 380% since 2007. We actively teach people how to have fun at work. We have games to increase the volume of fun we experience and reward ourselves with added fun. Organizations from around the world come visit us for seminars, to take notes, to see fun in the works and to bring new ideas and techniques back to their own businesses.

When we're tired of having so much fun at work, we all have the opportunity to escape to the Zingerman's recreation property — a small tract of land the Zingerman's Community of Businesses purchased to give us all a place to let our hair down and ignore fun for as long as we can stand it. It's become a great benefit for all our staff; a place to learn, relax, and sometimes to even share spreadsheets.

Putting fun in everything we do – from packaging to presentations – keeps us sane and healthy, and our customers happy and engaged. We're joking far too much to be considered food snobs or "corporate." (We've even had at least two unfortunate minor injuries caused by excessive laughter in the workplace.) 

To learn more about measuring and tracking non-financial metrics, join Elnian Gilbert at the 25th Annual Gathering of Games, where she will present an educational session on the topic. The Gathering of Games takes place September 6-8, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.

Learn More About The Gathering

Topics: Company Culture, Employee Engagement

Elnian Gilbert
Written by Elnian Gilbert

About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.