Tribal knowledge

We bring our whole lives to the office. If work and home coalesce, if they sustain each other, then we’re engaged, productive, happy. If they don’t… well, we become detached, depressed, even ill.

This explains why, as a manager, it’s important to understand and support all aspects of people’s lives. Fundamentally it’s about respecting people as people, not as cogs in a machine. It’s putting energy into understanding what makes them tick and using that to help them be the best they can be. And this too is what underpins Springday’s holistic view of wellbeing: that it’s built on five pillars, namely financial, career, physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

A major element of what makes us all tick is that we’re social animals, depending on links with others, at work and home, to make our lives worthwhile. As John Donne put it, hundreds of years ago: No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

To put it another way, we all belong to tribes. Yes, that’s tribes, plural. Our religion, sports affiliations, age, career, passions – these define us and when we share them with like-minded people we’re part of something we identify with. We belong.

Recently a couple of things came together that made me realise how important tribes are, both at work and at home.

The first thing was that the whole Springday team completed an online survey, run by BrandHook, to discover what work tribe each of us belongs to. The point of the survey was to find out how each member of a team prefers to operate because, by doing this, their colleagues (and managers) know how best to use their skills and how to keep them happy.

I found my main tribe is a ‘wizard’, and my secondary one a ‘coach’. As a wizard, I like inspiring people and being creative. As a coach, my interests lie in mentorship and support. I only do detail when I have to, and I prefer a leadership role to plugging away in the background. I already know this of course, but having it spelt out for me helps me to decide that when I recruit staff, I should concentrate on people who enjoy doing things I don’t. And knowing what tribe each of my team belongs to helps me to deploy them effectively. (If you’re interested, you can access the survey here.)

The second thing was a recent wellbeing challenge that Springday ran, for blue-collar truck drivers in a regional area. Their company realised that this mostly sedentary, older, group was a great health risk and wanted to help them get – and stay – fitter. As you can imagine, the drivers themselves were not exactly thrilled about wellbeing programs of any sort. In fact, we’ve never had a group that was harder to reach. But we managed, simply because we spent time finding out what their interests were out of work.

We realised most of them were passionate about AFL so we gamified their wellbeing challenge based on AFL teams. Once that happened, the drivers suddenly engaged with the whole project because their footy teams are their tribe, the group they’re prepared to defend. We still had to put in a great deal of onboarding but in general, the battle was won.

This gamification example shows that knowing about employees outside work can help improve their working lives, and help the company as well. Gamification can be used in many ways: it can enable an individual to try to improve a personal best or pit individual against individual. It’s particularly effective, however, when it sets tribe against tribe. At work, this means division vs division, or workers vs managers, or men vs women and so on. It can invent tribes (blue vs red) or, as with the truck drivers, bring in tribes not directly connected with the work environment.

So here’s my nugget this month: pay attention to the tribes of people who work for you. Take time to find out about the hipsters, hippies, baby boomers, millennials, gen Y’s, footie fanatics, punks, Game of Throners, freaks and rastas you employ. Understand and leverage their tribal customs, not only the way they operate at work but also their outside interests. You’ll end up using them more efficiently and making their lives better. They’ll reward you as well, by being more engaged, productive and of course, profitable. Who knows, you may even find a new tribe or two yourself, while you’re at it.

What’s new


In October, I’ll be one of over 30 speakers at the 2016 National Workplace Health Association of Australia Conference, now celebrating its 10th Year.

The theme is The Puzzle of Workplace Health. Putting the pieces together. I’ll be speaking alongside Keynote speaker Liesel Jones and other international and leading Australian speakers in the areas of mental and physical wellbeing, use of technology in workplace health and the integration of OH&S and wellbeing. There will also be some great networking opportunities, including a cocktail function.

I’ll be speaking in the Technology Stream on APPocalypse: The future of platforms and apps.

R U OK Day

Activewear brand The Upside is collaborating with R U OK Day and they’ve produced some very cool T-shirts. The coolest thing is that 100% of the profit made will go to the R U OK Day foundation. Here at Springday we think this is our chance to be hip and contribute to the greater good at the same time. What do you think? Get yours here.

Springday product update

I’m delighted to announce that Springday now integrates with Google and Microsoft for Single-Sign-On. So now, you don’t need a separate password for Springday anymore. You can simply login into your Google or Microsoft account at work and access our platform straight away, too.

What else is going on?

Check out some interesting reads I’ve come across in the last month:

Finding a job you love: one of the most important dimensions of job satisfaction is how you feel about your employer’s mission. In this article, the writer says when most people leave work each evening, they feel better if they have made the world better in some way, or at least haven’t made it worse.

Safety is one of the most important aspects for athletes: Strava has built a new feature, Beacon, with feedback from their community. Beacon will get to see where users are during an activity on a map in real time.

What if doctors earned more for keeping their patients healthy? Would getting paid for keeping patients healthy instead for treating their illness reform our society’s wellbeing?

The era of gamification: Pokémon Go is probably the most famous physical activity game that proves to improve its players’ health, but have you also heard of ‘Beat the Street’?

Everybody dies, but not everybody lives. Make your dreams a reality and check out this motivational video.