HR and people management gurus love new catch phrases and use ideas to capture interest and make us feel that this is the very latest and greatest way to manage your team.
‘Gamification’ is one such word and idea. If you are not engaging with ‘Gamification’ you are way behind the eight ball right?
Well no actually. Gamification is not new, but an idea that has been around for many decades. It is simply a way of engaging people through the concepts of a game. Think about sport in primary and high school; being allocated to a ‘house’ – good behaviour and good sporting deeds earn points for the house – it is a game – which house gets the most house points is the winning house! I proudly remember wearing my yellow tassel in Primary School for my house and covering ourselves in Blue in high school! This is gamification. It involves the use of points, scoring, competition, rules, rewards etc into a workplace scenario. Every time you earn points on a loyalty card, or receive $10 off your shopping due to your point’s level, or engage in special offers on double point’s days, you are engaging in gamification.
It is just taking the elements of game playing and applying them to the real world (Gane 2017). It is all about engaging people. You see, if your team is engaged, they are more likely to engage in discretionary effort (the holy grail of HR); meaning that they will go above and beyond in their work. Gamification developed first in the marketing arena, with loyalty programs, competitions and games to keep us engaged with brands. It has moved and morphed into being used more with employee engagement now, not just customer engagement.
A key aspect of developing a gamification program in your workplace is to develop intrinsic rewards along with extrinsic rewards. It is all very well to earn points towards a prize, but the recognition from your team members and organisation that you did this, will have far greater effect on your engagement. We need to create the prize and the internal reward as well.
Research has shown three important pillars for successful gamification – fun, friends and feedback (Zatwarnicka-Madura, 2016). Fun means momentary entertainment and feelings of pleasure; Friends refers to the opportunity to collaborate or be in competition with others, to be involved as a part of a community and strive to reach goals as a part of a team or for a team; and feedback, is simply that – gaining a response for your effort.
Workers gaining special privileges for achieving certain goals, is no different to a customer who punches a frequency card to receive the 10th coffee free – it is all gamification.
Gamification is often used in training and development, to teach workers new policy and procedures in the form of a quiz or competition.
It is reported that ‘gamification’ will be the primary mechanism that 40% of top 1000 organisations will employ to improve their business operations in the future (The Top Gamification 2015).
We just used it recently with an internal project we called ‘Spot It’. It involved scoring points into a prize drawer for ‘spotting’ documents that included our non-existent fax number and old emails – we ran it for a month and found around 180 documents that were updated. It was great fun and the winners were grinners!
How can you use gamification in your business?
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