Employee Engagement: What we can take from ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’

Since ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ is back on our screens, we thought we’d take a look at what businesses can learn from the much-loved reality show. Although it may seem like the jungle is far removed from the realities of the workplace, there are some lessons we can learn when it comes to employee engagement.

A sense of pride

The more effort the celebrities put into ‘Bushtucker Trials’ and ‘Dingo Dollar’ challenges, the more chance they have of winning the ‘stars’ needed to feed their campmates.

The celebrities who embrace the challenges and commit to bringing back the maximum number of stars receive praise from campmates, and a huge sense of pride when their food is delivered that evening.

The same goes for noticing and recognising the achievements of employees. No matter how small the reward, gratitude goes a long way in motivating staff, giving them a sense of purpose and achievement. As a result, they want to continue to please.

Variety is the spice of life  

It wouldn’t be ‘I’m a Celebrity’ without the basic rations of rice and beans. The celebrities are motivated to do well in challenges to increase the quantity and variety of food they receive. The excitement and promise of new ingredients is a big incentive.

Employees are now looking for variety in the workplace as well as a sense of purpose and wellbeing. For some, a sense of pride in a job well done is motivation enough whereas for others it’s a clearly defined path to progression, whether that be financial reward or status.

Discovering hidden skills and talents

Many of the celebrities in the jungle fear heights, spiders or confined spaces. They would have never put themselves through these experiences normally, but the sense of achievement gained from facing their fears and earning food to share with their campmates is hugely rewarding, outweighing their initial resistance.

In the workplace employers often make assumptions about the capabilities of employees and their willingness to learn a new skill or take on additional tasks. Employees often surprise themselves and their employers when they push themselves outside of their comfort zone, discovering hidden skills and talents. Giving employees the chance to challenge their capabilities will go a long way in keeping them engaged in the workplace.

Bush Telegraph

The Bush Telegraph has become a huge part of the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ experience and is where we see campmates vent, rant, cry and everything in between. Viewers only get to see a brief snapshot of what happens in the wooden hut, creating a safe space for celebrities to share their inner feelings as part of the production team’s duty of care.

In the modern workplace where employees are encouraged to bring their whole self to work with greater emphasis on the health and wellbeing, it is important to create an environment where workers feel heard and cared for with early intervention measures in place such as mental health first aiders.

Don’t be a Kiosk Keith

Many of the ‘Bushtucker Trials’ and ‘Dingo Dollar’ challenges cannot be completed without the input of the whole team.

Contestants battle the odds in the ‘Dingo Dollar’ challenges to try and win treats for their campmates. But if the rest of the camp fail to answer the question correctly, they will have wasted all their efforts.

Encouraging a culture where employees work together as a team, share in each other’s success and learn from mistakes will help create an engaged workforce.

A clear line of sight to the reward

The campmates are an ensemble cast, carefully assessed and selected by the production team who consider the personality types, values and celebrity status of each person. Throw into the mix a diverse range of ages, races, religions, sexual orientations and genders and you have a fully inclusive and diverse team.

Such an eclectic mix of campmates not only provide endless hours of entertainment for viewers but provides a great example of how a diverse group of strangers can pull together when facing adversity in pursuit of a common goal.

Although insect-eating challenges may be frowned upon in the workplace, with everyone aligned to the same goals, and with clear visibility of what they need to do to achieve reward, there are elements of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ that can be simulated to achieve unison and a sense of community and engagement in the workplace.