By now you’ve probably heard how impactful gamification can be in driving employee engagement. An entire industry of designers and developers is emerging focused on creating gamified solutions for just for employees.
When I talk about “gamification,” I’m basically talking about applying game principles to non-gaming experience. In other words, taking the things that make Angry Birds and Minecraft so engaging — earning points, leveling up, discovering, unlocking features, getting rewards — and using them to focus employee’s time and attention on day-to-day business issues.
Gamification takes advantage of two modern realities. First, that employees are programmed to challenge themselves, and second, that most people compete and collaborates with their colleagues.
Your employees are already gaming 24/7. Just consider Joe Schmo’s typical day:
- 5am – Starts off the morning with a run, racking up points on his FitBit
- 7am–Kills time during his commute by aiming Angry Birds at those nasty pigs
- 9am–Becomes Mayor of the office by checking in on Foursquare
- 11am–Wins employee of the month award by blowing away the sales quota
- 1pm – Tracks his Weight Watchers points when ordering lunch
- 3pm – Takes a break to complete a quick round of Trivia Crack
- 5pm – Increases his Dropbox memory by inviting 3 co-workers to the platform
- 7pm–Gives his kids points for cleaning their plates at the dinner table
- 9pm–Gets points by making a reservation on OpenTable
- 11pm–Redeems his frequent flyer points while booking his next trip
- 1am–Sneaks in some late-night games on Xbox Live
- 3am–Finishes the day with some Words with Friends
If you’re not leveraging this behavior in your training, you’re missing out.
Insert Coin: Build Your Gamification Strategy
The key to gamification is leveraging what you know about your employees already. Your “asks” should align with their habits, interests and motivations. The actions you want your employees to take should be based on what they already do. Whether your looking to increase speed, improve customer satisfaction, increase sales, or optimize collaboration you should have very specific tasks in mind at the outset.
Level Up: Attract and Retain Your Employees
Of course, your game will only matter if employees keep playing it. People love to accomplish things, and a diverse set of activities will reel them in, but they’re only going to keep pumping in quarters if you level them up.
The concept of levels surrounds us in real life. We earn badges in the Cub Scouts; we earn belts in karate; we earn miles in the air. Leveling up says, “I’ve done something.” Challenge your employees to reach a set number of points for each level, then graduate them to the next level.
And if you want to turn your employees into addicts, create a learning curve. Space your levels out. The first few should be easy to reach; the next several should be more difficult. Hook them early on with easy stuff, and you’ll keep them with you for the long haul.
Super Mega Combo! Provide Real-Time Feedback
When people are playing games, even the smallest encouragement can enhance engagement. Real-time feedback can mean almost anything: leaderboards, virtual rewards (points, badges &social status), real-life rewards (coupons, digital content and physical goods) pop-ups, texts, e-mails, access to contests, or anything else that says “Good job!”
The feedback is there to reinforce what your employee is working toward. Plus, excited employees are likely to spread the word about their accomplishments and your platform. Consider that your mega bonus.
Play On Their Turf
Meet your employees where they already are. You should already know how and where they obtain and absorb content, so design your campaign accordingly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling widgets, wallets or wallabies, or if you’re overseeing a staff of two or two thousand. Gamification knows no bounds. If you deliver the right experience in the right way and in the right place, you’ll find that there’s a hardcore gamer in everybody.