The Aon 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends report was just published, and if you are an HR professional or company executive looking for fresh, fascinating insights on employee engagement, look no further.

From its impressive data set — over eight million employee responses were considered — many high-level trends in employee engagement were found. If your company is trying to create a blueprint for effective employee engagement, three trends from the report are especially important.

1. Employee engagement has increased worldwide

After measuring a dip in global employee engagement last year, this year’s report found engagement either stayed flat or increased multiple percentage points in every region studied.
For some organizations, this is great news — their efforts to invest in what really drives employee engagement are paying off.

For others, it’s a reason to be wary. If you are not investing in the employee experience, others are, and for top talent, the grass may be looking greener than ever elsewhere.

2. Rewards and recognition top the list of engagement drivers

Topping factors such as senior leadership or career opportunities, rewards and recognition were determined to be the strongest drivers of employee engagement.

For the second year in a row the Rewards & Recognition dimension is the strongest driver of engagement.
— 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends report

Does this indicate companies can simply throw money at the problem? No. The report specifically calls out recognition beyond pay and benefits here.

If your organization is not redefining recognition in terms of people instead of perks, it’s time to start.

Money did make an appearance in the report, however, which brings us to the third important finding to pay attention to…

3. Employee pay is no longer a top-five engagement driver

The evidence cannot be denied — when it comes to employee engagement drivers, cash isn’t king.

“Fair pay,” once the main factor behind the rewards and recognition driver in past reports, now only plays a supporting role in this year’s data.

Finding ways to create meaningful recognition for employees’ contributions will have a major impact on employee engagement. Before you raise the number of gift cards and spot bonuses handed out, raise your expectations for what employee rewards and recognition can be at your company.

Employee engagement can be an organization’s great differentiator in times of stability or in times of rapid change. When you have a Culture of Engagement, your competitors had better take notice.
— 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends report

For an in-depth look at the employee engagement stats and trends discovered by Aon, view the full report here.

About Kazoo:

Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, a company’s employees are its most powerful asset. But plagued by a talent shortage that stretches across nearly all industries, HR leaders have been tasked with revamping retention strategies for the modern workforce.

To do this, many companies have placed a high priority on improving the employee experience. Traditional practices around performance management, employee development and recognition and rewards have proven to be ineffective at driving retention, but it’s not as simple as replacing them with something new. One misstep can create uncertainty and instability and have a damaging effect on the organizational culture – the very thing that they are meant to improve.

Change Management

For this reason, the implementation process of new HR technology is just as important as the new system or tool itself. While there’s no magic handbook that can guarantee a successful implementation, McKinsey reports that when people are truly invested in change, an implementation is 30% more likely to succeed. So, how can HR leaders create buy-in and adoption? By zeroing in on their change management process.

For our own new client implementations, we have found that there are three critical pieces to change management: communication, marketing and training.

1. Communication

What’s more frightening than the unknown? Having a strong communication plan in place – and adhering to it every step of the way – helps make change less scary. Employees tend to multi-task the day away, so even if you catch them in the office, you still can’t guarantee you’ll be heard. Here’s a handful of ways that Kazoo clients have communicated the HR process change to employees.

      1. Company-wide email from CEO or other top leadership

      2. Announcement on company Intranet

      3. In-person or virtual town hall meeting

      4. Company-sponsored happy hour

      5. Letter to managers from the CEO

2. Marketing

Once a change is communicated, it’s time to get employees excited. Involving employees in the implementation helps them feel like important stakeholders and minimizes any negative chatter that can be unproductive and detrimental to the process. Some examples of ways that clients have used marketing to create buy-in include:

      1. Giving the program a name/logo that’s in line with the culture

      2. Putting the program branding to an employee vote

      3. Allowing employees create/vote on other decisions (badge images, names, etc.)

      4. Distributing tchotchkes and other giveaways to establish brand recognition

      5. Hanging posters and other signage to reinforce program excitement

3. Training

No matter how much buzz there is around a new process or system, the best way to fast-track adoption is to ensure employees feel comfortable and confident using it. Training should take into consideration all of the different ways that we learn. Here’s a few ways that clients have helped get employees up to speed on Kazoo.

      1. Company-wide webinar, available live and on-demand (for new hires down the road)

      2. In-person training conducted by department or location

      3. HR-led training that feels custom to the company, not generic, vendor-led sessions

      4. Beta-testing to train employees and gain early adopters/enthusiasts

      5. Ongoing sessions to ensure continued adoption

While these tactics have worked for many Kazoo clients, each change management strategy is like each of our clients – unique. A company’s culture, leadership style and engagement level should dictate how a new tool should be implemented. Staying true to your own organizational culture is the only universal advice.

Change Management

Earlier this month we hosted a webinar, It’s About the How: Making Performance Management as Agile as Your Business, with industry visionary Josh Bersin and Hitachi Vantara’s Scott Kelly. We set out with two goals in mind. First, we wanted to help attendees understand what’s driving the performance management transformation we see today, on both the micro and macro level. And second, to share how one company was able to take modern processes and tools and implement them in a non-disruptive, culturally-aligned way.

We encourage you to view the webinar recording to listen in on their insightful discussion. During the first half of the webinar, Josh gave his take on why we’ve arrived at this state of transformation.

Performance Management Transformation

 

Here’s just four of the many key takeaways Josh Bersin shared.

  1. There are four forces of disruption necessitating performance management change. Demographic upheavals are systematically changing the way our workforce operates and interacts, now with a total of five generations working together. Companies are using digital tools to operate in a much more agile way. The rate of change is accelerating. And, lastly, relationships with employees are very different today, with a greater emphasis on individuals as stakeholders and business owners.
  2. The fourth industrial revolution has left a massive impact on the workforce. We are inundated by technology, effectively overwhelmed by data tools, communication channels and more. All of these things are having a negative impact on employee productivity and engagement, as these measures continue to plummet almost universally. To fix the problem, we must re-engineer the way companies operate.
  3. Companies need to take agile to the next level to meet their employees where they do best – on teams. While the term “agile” was first coined for a type of software development, today it’s become a buzzword for every part of the organization, and for good reason. The best experience and highest levels of productivity and engagement happen when employees are formed into teams. Companies that optimize their teams will in turn optimize their business.
  4. The re-invention of performance management is happening now. Ten years ago, the majority of companies were using performance management to weed out under-performers and create differentiation amongst its workers. Today, the goal for most organizations is to improve performance. The re-invention of performance management includes agile, bottom up goals, check-ins, real-time feedback, data, leadership training, regular compensation reviews and career and development assignments.

A real-world example of performance management transformation

Hitachi Vantara’s Scott Kelly shared how his team went about the performance management transformation process at their organization. Transitioning from a long, tedious process – 15-page reviews and 20,000 total hours of work – didn’t happen overnight. He shared his thought process, from designing a new solution to ensuring a success implementation.

Some lessons learned from Hitachi Vantara included:

  1. Set clear objectives. For Hitachi, this was to:
    1. Create a robust, connected, data-driven process to better understand their talent.
    2. Implement agile, transparent goal setting, frequent feedback and coaching.
    3. Maintain a strong focus on employee growth and development.
  2. Build a case for change with data. The Hitachi HR team examined internal talent data analysis, conducted employee surveys and stakeholder interviews, and held manager and employee focus groups.
  3. Customize the design of the new process. Hitachi used best practices as a starting point, but had to determine the likelihood of adoption within their own organization for each tactic.
  4. Take change management seriously. Hitachi took the time to build strong internal stakeholders and advocates first, and branded their program to create excitement during its initial rollout.
  5. Don’t think it’s over after implementation. As the company continues to go through its transformation, they continue to analyze, tweak and adapt the program to fit their needs and build on successes of the year before.

Performance Management Transformation

The results for Hitachi are impressive. The company’s sales employees who set goals using Kazoo perform 22% better on quota attainment than those without. They’ve seen a double digit increase in performance management scores on their engagement surveys. And, all of this is accomplished while saving 20,000+ employee hours per year – the time spent on the old process.

Clare Tuchscherer

Today we’re spending some time getting to know Clare Tuchscherer, a customer success manager. Over her three-and-a-half year tenure here, Clare has developed a keen sense of what our clients need out of their HR technology solutions to help their employees be successful. Learn more about her life inside and outside of Kazoo.

What brought you to Kazoo?

A former colleague had started working at Kazoo and told me that I just had to apply. The mission and vision of the organization resonated with me on so many levels. Once I heard what Kazoo did I thought to myself, nope, I don’t get coached as often as I should, I don’t get feedback, I’m not recognized when I feel like I should be. I knew if I could immediately recognize the need of a program like this, then I would definitely have a ton of fun sharing our offerings with other organizations. Call me a millennial, but my work is so much more rewarding when I’m invested in the mission.

Tell us a bit about your everyday life at Kazoo. How you do contribute to the company’s goals and what makes your day fun?

No day is the same! I love that all my clients are so unique. Everyone’s working toward the same goal but take a different route to get there. I truly enjoy hearing their goals to improve culture or employee learning and development and finding a way to not only achieve those goals but do it in a fun and  engaging way. Internally, I love that I get to interact with every department in our organization on a daily basis. It’s what makes us truly collaborative – no one department can succeed without the other and there’s a genuine desire to learn from each other.

How is Kazoo disrupting the HR technology space?

Kazoo is enabling businesses to give their employees a name instead of a rating, a future instead of a current standing. The conversation is changing from, “here’s where this employee stacks up on my team today” to “this person is showing promise, how can we get them the resources to stay here and to succeed.” We’re changing the conversation around employee value and I think that’s incredibly exciting.

What do you love about our clients?

I love how much they care about their employees. The conversations I have with them run deeper than how to configure a performance review or how they want employees to access the system. They constantly reference their culture, how they want their employees to develop their skills and celebrate successes through our platform. No decision gets made without ensuring the employee’s best interests have been met. It should also be said that my clients are also incredibly fun and kind.

What’s your perfect day off?

Perfect days off always include Chicago’s short-lived warm weather! I love starting my weekends at my local empanada shop, Cafe Tola, for breakfast. After that, I hop on my bike and head to the beach for a few hours with friends and later end up at the Cubs game in the afternoon. Games are hard to ignore considering I live half a block away from the stadium.

What are you currently watching?

I completely missed the boat on The Newsroom when it first came out. I’ve been binge-watching it for the last two weeks. Anything written by Aaron Sorkin I could watch on repeat.

Your organization may have programs in place when it comes to company culture — but how do they measure up? How do you know what kind of culture your company has really built?

Take the Kazoo company culture quiz to find out:

The data behind this company culture quiz:

Kazoo surveyed thousands of employees across many industries about the employee experience. We used the data along with recent industry research to publish The Employee Experience Optimized.

The report identified three common structures of the employee experience — Baseline, Better, and Optimized — as well as 10 Culture Building Blocks that have a strong influence on company culture.

Based on how your organization is using the 10 Culture Building Blocks and other factors, you can see what kind of company culture you currently have and discover ways to improve by taking this quiz.

Get Started with Kazoo

What do my company culture quiz results mean?

If you score Baseline: Maybe your company is investing some in company culture, but employees feel it doesn’t go much beyond a benefits package and a paycheck, and it certainly is not in the 10 Culture Building Blocks.

If you score Better: Your company scores above average for its employee experience, but there’s definitely room for improvement — and risks involved if nothing is changed, such as employees becoming disengaged, sustained employee turnover issues, and performance issues.

If you score Optimized: Your company scores well above the baseline employee experience. Of course, there’s always room for improvement — and risks involved if your company isn’t careful in keeping leadership involved and bought into your company culture efforts long-term.

After taking the company culture quiz, you’ll receive detailed explanations of your results and find out what steps you can take to optimize your company culture even further.

Of course, the Kazoo team also has years of experience helping organizations unify culture. If you’d like to talk to us directly about how your company culture can improve, let us know anytime.

About Kazoo:

Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

employee rewards programsWhether formal or informal, virtually every business uses employee rewards programs.

Programs range from a drawer of gift cards in a manager’s desk, a formalized employee-of-the-month plaque, an annual performance-based bonus, regular sales incentives – up to a full-scale software platform that includes rewards.

The question is, how do these employee rewards programs affect your business? It’s often difficult to quantify their result.

Here are tips for creating an employee rewards program that will help move your business forward.

Tie Employee Rewards to Spontaneous Recognition

In researching our report, Rewards and Recognition Systems that Work, the science clearly showed one point: pre-specified rewards and incentives lose their value over time.

If you want to change company culture or boost customer service — you need to be more strategic with your employee rewards program. Tie the rewards to unplanned, spontaneous recognition.

Offering simple recognition for actions that support company core values and goals reinforces those behaviors, training employees to deliver higher quality work every single day. Tying a small reward (The Kazoo Employee Experience Platform does this with a point system) to that recognition bumps up its value. And it increases the value of the unexpected, spontaneous reward.

Rewards with Values

Company core values matter to employees. In a survey of more than 2,000 employees for our recent report – the Employee Experience Optimized – 83% of employees who worked at companies with clearly communicated core values rated their employee experience as positive vs. 38% of those whose company didn’t have them.

Linking recognition to core values — and then tying the rewards to recognition — is a clear way to communicate what matters to your company. And a key way to reinforce the behaviors that will move your company forward.

Employee Rewards Programs that Resonate

For an employee rewards program to work the rewards have to matter to the employee. This is one of the biggest challenges of traditional employee rewards programs.

Does having a name on a plaque on the wall matter to an employee? Maybe. Maybe not. Same with company t-shirts, mugs, gift cards and other awards. Some employees would rather donate that award to a charitable cause. Others may wear a company baseball cap with pride.

The best way to offer a meaningful employee rewards program is to let employees choose from a variety of rewards — so they get the ones that matter most to them.

Sound like a lot of work to implement an employee rewards system? It doesn’t have to be. Kazoo’s Employee Experience Platform offers a low-maintenance, easy-to-use method for using recognition and rewards to move a business forward. And the average payback for an investment in our platform is five short months.

About Kazoo:

Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

Best-in-class employee experienceAt Kazoo, we are dedicated to giving our customers a platform that delivers a best-in-class employee experience. But what does a best-in-class employee experience look like?

We recently conducted market research to answer this question. Kazoo surveyed more than 2,000 employees across a variety of company sizes, industries, and levels of responsibility. Our findings revealed the key elements that matter most to a best-in-class employee experience:

Company culture matters. We found 10 Culture Building Blocks that lead to an excellent employee experience.
Leadership involvement. Employee experience dramatically improves when leadership regularly backs up and clearly communicates core values.
Feedback is critical. Regular one-on-ones with managers build the employee experience.

When all these elements were present — 95% of employees reported a positive employee experience.

How do you get there? We’ve put our most critical findings into this infographic. You can also download the entire Employee Experience Optimized report. Or, see how your company stacks up with our Company Culture Quiz.

About Kazoo

Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

By now many organizations are realizing the value of moving from one annual performance conversation to a continuous feedback loop. But it’s much more than a simple process change. Real-time feedback is a culture shift taking place across companies of all industries and sizes. It’s turning managers into constructive coaches and employees into proactive listeners..

The best employee feedback begins with asking the right questions. The old standby “How am I doing?” is fine on the back on a delivery truck, but won’t get employees what they need to elevate their performance in the workplace.

Employee feedback traits

It’s important to note that the questions that yield the best feedback aren’t universal. We all have unique backgrounds, skillsets, environments, challenges, goals… the list goes on and on. While there’s no instruction manual, the best employee feedback shares three traits: it is constructive, tangible and forward-looking.

Here are some examples of questions that will help employees get the most out of feedback in different scenarios.

Ask your mentor: “What’s holding me back?”

Having a mentor is tremendously valuable, regardless of an individual’s career stage. Mentors can help employees through a number of bigger-picture challenges: do a gut check when things feel uncertain, navigate through salary negotiations or re-route when career roadblocks appear.

This question takes advantage of a mentor’s unique view of the employee. Since they observe them at a higher vantage point than a manager or peer, they have a better understanding of what makes them successful or where they have challenges. This question gets to the heart of the problem, whether they’re lacking a specific skill, educational degree or even confidence.

Employee feedback & Recognition

Ask your manager: “Where have I gotten lazy?”

This is a great question for a variety of reasons. First, it shows that an employee is thoughtful and proactive about their own improvement, and that they are coachable – three great traits. Second, chances are a manager isn’t the only one who has noticed, but might be the only one who would tell them. For that reason, this question takes advantage of the unique employee-manager relationship perfectly.

It goes without saying that this is not a surface-level question. It opens up the opportunity for managers to be more candid and honest than they might be on their own. For employees who already have an understanding of their strengths and challenges, the answer to this question could help them see the slight changes that are beginning to be noticed.

Ask your peers: “What makes me different?”

Not all feedback needs to come from those who have more seniority or even work directly with us. Employees contribute to a team but also to an organization’s culture. This question is perfect to ask of a teammate or even someone in a different department.

Ultimately this question will help someone get to the bottom of how they stand out vs. fit in. In situations where employees are evenly matched, knowing this information can help them market themselves for promotions and other career moves.

When determining how best to participate in a feedback culture, employees should be encouraged to go after the feedback that gives them the best chance to succeed.

Today is International Women’s Day.

This year, in particular, this day deserves attention. With Weinstein-gate, the #MeToo movement, and companies getting publicly called out for sexism and harassment, the past 12 months have shown that gender bias and workplace inequality issues can no longer be ignored. Companies large and small are asking themselves what they need to do to create more female-friendly company cultures.

The answer: start from the top.

Our own CEO, Autumn Manning, was recently quoted in Bloomberg News on the fact that the South by Southwest Conference has more than 50 panels discussing gender discrimination and sexism this year — including a women’s leadership panel that she is participating in. “This highlights the fact that companies and leadership are prioritizing culture in a way they have not in the past,” Manning said. “A big part of the panel is de-mystifying the definition of culture and making sure people walk away understanding that a company’s values, transparency and behavior 100 percent starts at the top with executive leadership.”

Our own research backs this up. Our recent research report, The Employee Experience Optimized, shows that when senior leadership is living out clearly communicated core values — 91% of surveyed employees reported that they had a good to excellent employee experience.

Why does a great employee experience matter? Because the quality of the employee experience has a direct tie to the inclusiveness in company culture.

Embedding Inclusiveness Into Company Culture

Gallup has found that the two key engagement attributes that lead to feelings of inclusion are: my company “seems to care about me as a person” and “my opinions seem to count” at my company.

Google found similar results in its Project Aristotle research. This 2-year study found that the single characteristic of high-performing teams was psychological safety – the ability to have your opinions heard and counted.

These aspects tie directly to the four pillars of the Employee Experience:

  • Connection to managers and coworkers
  • Knowing your work has an impact
  • Finding meaning in your work
  • Knowing that your work is noticed and appreciated

In other words: a leadership focus on providing a great employee experience for EVERY employee creates a more inclusive culture.

Making changes at your company may require taking a look at implicit bias, training managers on psychological safety, and reimagining work/life balance. For ideas on how to implement steps in the right direction, see our research report: the Employee Experience Optimized.

Company Culture

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About Kazoo

Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit info.kazoohr.com/demo-request.

We’re excited to bring back our newest blog series, Hello from Kazoo! If you missed our first post, get to know Gina.

Today we sat down with Adam Dahl. He’s one of our sales exec extraordinaires. Read on for his take on the problems Kazoo solves and what makes him a happy member of our team.

How’d you get your start at Kazoo?

I’ve always been a big believer of “A happy employee is a good employee” and “It’s easier to keep good employees than to find new ones.” The belief and vision of Kazoo – to facilitate exceptional workplace experiences where employees thrive and employers are known as a best place to work – really spoke to me. I had experiences in my past life that I didn’t like and I didn’t believe in how performance reviews were being conducted. I’m a strong advocate of being engaged at work, so a move to Kazoo just made sense. I was introduced to the company by networking and being involved in the Chicago technology scene. I also wanted to contribute to the fast growth of an exciting new company.

 

Tell us a bit about your everyday life at Kazoo. How you do contribute to the company’s goals and what makes your day fun?

In my role as a sales executive, I love that every day is different. I enjoy having to be on my toes, meeting new people and having to think strategically about problems that today’s organizations are trying to solve. The company goals are lofty and we are always trying to bring on great new partners as clients, so I keep my eyes and ears open. The world can move quickly and I have to be on top of my game. I try to bring that same attitude to each and every day, and I also believe that life is short. You have to be professional but also smile and enjoy life. I try incredibly hard to bring that to the sales cycle with prospects as well as with my co-workers.

 

How is Kazoo disrupting the HR technology space?

We are modernizing performance and the employee experience by encouraging and helping companies create and receive more feedback. I think that’s what we are – a feedback company. People want to know where they stand today, they want their voices heard because they have good ideas and they want to be empowered. We open up so many lines of communication – from the manager to the direct report, to the group that worked on a project together, to the organization as a whole always looking to get better. Without feedback, we are all just treading water, and nobody wins in that scenario. The days of getting feedback once a year are over – or at least they should be. We are giving everyone a voice and by doing that, organizations and bottom lines will improve. You’ll also see a more connected workforce because of the increase in communication.

 

What do you find most interesting about performance management?

Performance management is something that will always be changing, and I think that it’s exciting because it’s personal. It doesn’t matter what type of company you work at or what your job title is. There will always be goals and there will always be a need to improve. It just goes to the heart of people – do something you love, but if you can’t do that, do something that you like and that you can find a personal reason to work hard to accomplish those goals. But, it goes back to my first statement – a happy employee is a better employee, and life is too short to hate work.

 

What does personal success look like to you, in your current role and beyond?

I’m in sales, so I’m obviously looking for new clients. But, I think that finding companies that our software solves a major problem for is the most rewarding part of the job. I’m also a big believer in being the type of person that people want to work with. That is success to me when clients, and even prospects, tell me that I’ve done a good job of representing Kazoo and myself.

 

When you’re not at work, you can be found doing one of three things: what are they?

When I’m not at work, I’m hopefully with my three little girls and my wife doing something that makes us all smile. If I’m not with my girls, then I’m definitely golfing. Can I get my game in shape for the Champions (Senior) PGA someday? I’d love to be able to find more time to practice, but the first part of my answer takes away from my time on the course. However, the girls will be old enough to go to the driving range with me pretty soon! Lastly, you can always find me talking about the great Wisconsin Badgers or any other sports story out there. Toss in some travel and I’m a happy camper.