The Story of the Red Stapler

There are many stories out there about the different ways of increasing employee engagement and adoption. We hear new stories almost daily from our great customers; the creativity and resourcefulness is amazing and we share these stories with all of our customers on our extranet, Engage, for everyone’s benefit. There’s a short story that I’d like to share with you about one of our own practices and it involves the infamous red stapler

We often hear people struggling with the concept of gamification and badging, especially in areas where worker’s councils are powerful forces. This is mostly due to the fact that gamification is associated with things like personal achievement, benefit review discussions, and professional privacy. This sometimes makes it hard to get organizations to fully embrace the concept of gamification. If they were able to tackle this hurdle, they would actually be surprised by the positive effect badging can have on employee engagement. We have had several customers tell us that; although they were skeptical about the gamification concept, they were pleasantly surprised by how quickly it contributed to collaboration and engagement.

Enter the Red Stapler! For those of you that have seen the movie “Office Space,” you know what I’m referring to. As the movie progresses, the Red Stapler, which is given to employees when they reach their five year anniversary, becomes a dear possession. Yet, there’s nothing you need to do to earn the stapler, other than stay with the company for a number of years. No actual achievement or performance related activity can earn you a stapler. At Sitrion, we adopted this concept and came up with the Red Stapler badge, which employees get at their five year anniversary.

It’s innocent and informal and at the same time introduces the concept of badges to your employees without requiring them to achieve something. So if you want to dip your toes in the water of gamification, this is a great start!

Oh, and we get the actual stapler as well. 

Bert Jan van der Steeg, Engagement Manager

Since 2012, Bert Jan van der Steeg has been working with Sitrion’s European clients as an Engagement Manager. The terms engagement and adoption are part of every conversation he has with clients who are focused on making social technology work for their employees, and simply looking for ways to make work better.


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