Get your employees off the bench and in the game

by External12 Aug 2013

If used correctly, gamification can lead to positive business outcomes such as innovation disruption, education, personal development, improved employee participation, and collaboration. Alan Young outlines how.

Gamification – the process of taking enjoyable aspects of games and applying them to real-world business processes – is not a new concept. Sales teams have long been using points, badges, leaderboards, and other gamification methods to drive competition.

With a new generation of computer-literate workers now dominating the workforce, gamification is becoming an increasingly relevant and effective way to drive employee engagement. If done correctly, it can lead to positive business outcomes such as innovation disruption, education, personal development, improved employee participation, and collaboration.

According to Gartner, “by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.”[i]

HR managers have a key role to play when it comes to applying gamification thinking to drive employee behaviour change. Below are some important ways HR teams can leverage gamification to achieve business goals:

Gamifying the intranet

Corporate intranets are ripe for gamification. The aim here would be to leverage employee participation to achieve business objectives such as locating areas of expertise within your company or identifying subject matter experts. By creating a game experience which provides rewards for contributing and answering questions, you are likely to increase employee participation and the intranet becomes a much more valuable resource for the business.

Drive learning

Completing important training on new systems, company policies, or regulatory changes often ranks pretty low on employees’ ‘to-do’ lists, especially if the training isn’t directly linked to their day-to-day role.

Incorporating a gamification element to the experience can have a very positive impact on adoption rates. Employees who earn rewards or recognition for completing tasks are far more likely to make training a priority. Once an employee is past initial training, they could progress to the next level as they master new information, like keeping their knowledge of services and products up to date.

Then, HR managers also benefit by spending less time chasing workers to undertake these programs.

Identifying star performers

Another great aspect of gamification is how it maintains a record of behavioural data in profiles. Information such as completed training courses, answered questions, and employee rewards, comes in handy when conducting performance and pay reviews.

Changing bad habits

Gamification can also be utilised to bring about a change in the way employees currently communicate. More and more businesses are looking to reduce the amount of internal emails that are sent on a daily basis and to encourage conversations to take place via social media channels. This way information is captured centrally and retained for all to access. By rewarding employees for using new tools, gamification can help employees to shed bad habits.

The potential gamification can bring to a business is enormous. However, when it comes to implementing a successful gamification program, there are a few things HR managers need to watch out for:

Know your employees - The gaming techniques you use need to be age and culture appropriate. For example, industries like advertising and PR which tend to have a younger workforce, will probably respond better to ‘karma points’ than highly pressurised tax lawyers at a top tier law firm.

Incorporate scalability - When a user suggests a new process and earns 50 points, he or she is excited and engaged. It is important to ensure users still feel they have something left to achieve by incorporating multiple levels and stages within a game.

Appoint an internal champion - Senior management buy-in is key to the success of any change initiative. Having an internal champion, who has the ear of someone high up in the business, will go a long way towards ensuring the success of your gamification program.

Think beyond points - Too much emphasis on points and badges may lead to game fatigue. Linking points to career growth or financial rewards will make them mean something.

There are many reasons to gamify, but a badly designed gamification initiative will do more harm than good. By following some simple ground rules, you will ensure your program is a success. 


About the author

Alan Young is the Chief Technology Officer at ANCILE Solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience with enterprise business applications and infrastructure management companies and is responsible for all aspects of ANCILE’s technology strategy including: technology roadmap definition; product portfolio strategy and deliverables; new product research; and providing technology vision to the analyst, partner, and customer communities.

[i] Gartner Press Release “Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2013 and Beyond”, October 24, 2013.