Wednesday November 6, 2013
I was recently asked to comment on ‘gamification’ for a business article in Dubai. Being unfamiliar with the term I carried out some research and was surprised to find it’s not really a new thing. The term ‘gamification’, however, is mystifying; it actually has little to do with actual gaming (as I thought) but is about businesses driving their objectives and motivating people through data. Employees can benefit significantly from gamification programmes set up to create an environment in which they feel recognised and rewarded for their achievements beyond compensation and benefits.
‘Gamification’, to put it simply, is the application of game characteristics and dynamics into a non-gaming context i.e. the workplace and is being adopted by some organisations to increase employee engagement and motivation. It is also increasingly used as a marketing tool to attract consumers and increase spend per head as well. For example, eBay users are rated by other users and rewarded with different coloured stars. This spurs the user to reach a higher rating and spend more time on the site as well as improve their customer service to the buyer. Progress bars are another classic gamification technique, used to incentivise users to complete profiles or surveys.
In order to keep up with the fast moving age of the internet, gamification should be addressed and adopted where appropriate. According to Forbes, by the year 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up of Generation Y. Gen Y’ers are inherently digital; living and breathing online. They are also known for seeking out new opportunities, translating to frequent job switching as opposed to staying with the same company. This can become costly for companies, therefore creating an environment which engages them and encourages loyalty is a must and gamification can contribute to this.
Taking a look at the most significant characteristics of games which mirror real life; here we outline how these can be used to increase employee engagement and motivation and reduce turnover:
In a game setting, when you undertake an action, you receive real-time feedback and know instantly if you are succeeding. This could be replicated in a work setting by letting employees know immediately if they’ve done a good job. Some organisations take this one step further, for example at De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts, people are able to collect ‘extra inch’ points for facilitating great guest experiences which are tracked on the company’s online people portal to win prizes.
Within a game there is usually one ultimate goal achieved by completing lots of smaller goals. Using this theory to set KPI’s can work really well with Generation Y people, especially if they are tracked using an online performance review tool, for example www.talenttoolbox.com.
3. Social Interaction
Social interaction is a huge element of gaming. Individuals from across all generations use social media and are very peer orientated. Using this into a workplace context, organisations can use both competition and collaboration. There are many online tools to encourage this, however the Purple Cubed technical team have taken gamification ‘offline’ to plan for technical builds using the concept of planning poker. When a project is in discussion, all team members estimate how long it will take, everyone shows their ‘hand’ and the highest and lowest estimates are discussed bringing elements into the process that may not have been thought of otherwise. By asking the whole team to think about specific projects and how they would tackle them people feel consulted, everyone’s expertise is considered and the team are all aware of what is going on outside their own work.
Gamification can be used as a tool to create a more interactive, attentive and engaged workforce. What do you do in your organisation that could be considered gamification?