by Molly Miracle
“How can you tell you’re talking to an extroverted engineer? He’s staring at your shoes instead of his own.” – Keith Jones, a Mechanical Engineer, telling me an unsolicited engineering joke.
Gregarious. Extroverted. Talkative. Whether factual or not, these aren’t words that most people ascribe to engineers. The world expects them to be better at science than sociology or physics than fashion. They stay at work late, show up before the sun rises, and evade social events to meet aggressive project deadlines. And the weirdest part is that they really seem to like it. What do the rest of us have in common with these number-loving anomalies?
A love of competition.
BCER harnessed the overachiever in all of us with the 5420 Challenge. We were given team, partner, and individual challenges, each urging us to outstep our coworkers located in all four offices. To further cultivate the competition aspect of the challenge, each person’s step tracking device synced to a public leaderboard within our company. There was no escaping your team’s ridicule when you only managed a meager 1,000 steps on a Sunday. Conversely, the dopamine hit when your team topped the leaderboard was undeniable. Our company was united in one goal: to outstep the competition.
We all rose to the occasion when the competition intensified (How did Bryan single-handedly walk 35,000 steps on a Monday?). Traditional meetings were swapped for quick walk-and-talks in the sun. Teams planned lunch jaunts in the hopes of gaining a couple thousand steps on their competition. We walked, talked, emailed, texted, Skype chatted, and joked our way to healthier habits and more importantly, better communication. While the cash prizes were a nice perk, we all knew that bragging rights were the ultimate jackpot.
Everyone wants to feel connected to and valued by their coworkers. After all, most of us spend more time at work than with our friends and family. Sometimes we just need a good segue to start these relationships. Breaking down hierarchical barriers, the 5420 Challenge allowed our most senior employees to mingles with newbies, interns, and company owners alike. Everyone was an equal in the eyes of the challenge. Employees finally had a reason to communicate with people they’d never talked to. The result is that we all have surprisingly more in common than we knew.
Whether our engineers were “talking nerdy” on their walks we may never know. But we can’t argue with the increased community, communication, and overall employee well being that we’ve experienced since our inaugural health challenge. After all, a healthy body and mind is imperative to the important work we do for our community. If your favorite “enginerds” at BCER can find a way to improve employee communication while forming healthier habits, I’m confident that everyone can. Now if you could excuse me; it’s time for my mid-morning walk.