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A Day in Your Shoes

Enabling others to connect and empathize.

Photo of Selena
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This would allow employees from different units (i.e. Faculty, staff, administration, etc) to spend a day working with another employee. This opens up dialog on what each of us contributes to the organization and each other.

Idea Title

A Day in Your Shoes

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

By spending a day with another employee, say a faculty member with a department staff member, they will be able to experience what exactly their work entails. For a staff member, a faculty member can see how many hats they wear, from processing paperwork for over a dozen people, managing other employees, coordinating events, working with students and a variety of other things (building furniture!), they may have a better perspective on just how much work that "simple" request they have really is. Fostering a genuine appreciation for what we all do.

Who are you innovating for?

This is for everyone on campus. I hear the same complaint from every group. Faculty don't appreciate staff, staff don't appreciate faculty, administration doesn't appreciate anyone. I feel if we can connect to individuals in every group, we will find we are more similar then we think, and will be more apt to show our appreciation and gratitude for each other if we really understand what it is we do.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

This is for a university setting. But something I feel could be applicable in most organizational structures.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

Working with our upper administration and campus wellness department, this could be implemented with an initial informational workshop with the day with another employee, then a switch, being the follow up activity. We would need to advertise it by mail outs and sending representatives to department meetings or stopping in offices to briefly talk about it, ensuring as many employees are reached as possible. Surveys would be issued at the workshop and then again after the activity. The support of upper administration and supervisors all over the campus would help this to be a success.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Time. If there is one resource everyone here complains about not having it's this. However, if we can persuade people that this is worth the time, through our advertising plan and expressed support from managers, people will see the need to make the time and participate. There will also be the initial reaction of "well I'm one not appreciated, why should I have to sit through someone else's job?". The switch will allow them that opportunity to receive that acknowledgement.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

This would need to be tested with the upper administration first. Seeing our leaders take the lead and benefit from it will encourage others to take the opportunity.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

I would reach out to my upper administration and wellness center to assist me in implementing this program. I would love input from the GGSC, possibly inviting facilitators specializing in gratitude and empathy to facilitate the workshops.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This was an individual idea. But now that I think about it, it is reminiscent of Undercover boss, only this goes both directions. I am fortunate to work in a department where this is already happening. I love my job because I feel respected and appreciated by all of my colleagues and I appreciate them, on an individual basis. I unfortunately don't hear the same from the majority on my campus and I want what I have for everyone.

Tell us about yourself

I am an administrative support coordinator at CSU, Fresno.

Where are you / your team located?

Fresno, Ca USA

Company / Organization Name

CSU, Fresno


Tell us about your experience

I've worked in retail, food, software, account management and a university. Each place had it's own pros and cons, and I found that if I was unhappy I left, no second thought about it. I would find a new job and life was to short to be unhappy in an environment I spent most of my day in. I realized early on just how important gratitude really is and what it was worth.


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Selena ,

Great to see your post! Is there any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there.

Just a reminder the Ideas Phase closes Oct 25 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time, which is in less than 24 hours! Please have all edits to your post completed before that deadline.

Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

Photo of Vikram Vysyaraju

Hi Selena! I really like your idea. Sometimes employees don't fully realize each other's contributions until they have to fill in or swap roles. There is definitely a lack of appreciation, both in school environments and the workplace. I was curious about how you planned to encourage people to actually switch and "walk in someone's shoes". As you mentioned, it's easy to bring up personal commitments and lack of time. I think students who were interested in being professors or employees interested in being managers would be a good target demographic because they already have a vested interest in the new role. The school or office could also offer it as a challenge, as in free lunch or a gift certificate if they served as an administrator for a day. In that case, gamification may help gain traction and encourage other students or employees to see the inner workings of another role to truly appreciate what other employees do.

Photo of Selena

Hi Vickram! Thank you, those are all excellent ideas. My project is still very raw, so suggestions such as yours are very much appreciated. The president of my campus is extremely interested in improving leadership and thus improving the working environment. I believe the idea is that great leadership inspires a sense of gratitude on its own, however I don't feel that is necessarily true. There is work that is needed to develop gratitude as it is a key component on its own that deserves attention. I feel that they will see that development of leadership and gratitude go hand in hand. Thank you again for the great suggestions!

Photo of Selena

Hi Shankar,

I definitely agree. I'm hoping to get enough great minds on board.

Photo of Shankar Musafir

Hey Selena,

This was on my mind for quite a while and was a parallel idea I had. We could develop this by actually making people working in another team for a day or two and then they get what it takes to do that work. Though this has to be well thought