Achievement Unlocked: Employee Engagement with Gamification
Making learning interesting, boosting productivity and driving performance
Organisations have been using gamification for some time now to engage with their customers through the deployment of social media and mobile technologies to deliver contests, challenges and rewards. Now, as game elements start making their way into existing organisational processes, organisations are beginning to uncover even more value from gamification.
A new curriculum for a critical new breed of Talent Advisors
Millennials—a generation that grew up with technology from a young age—now constitute the biggest demographic in an organisation’s workforce. They seem to effectively assimilate concepts that are ‘gamified’. This involves gamification of learning and processes.
Game mechanics can be further applied to processes such as performance management, time management, and refreshers on policies and benefits. By enhancing work activities or processes with elements such as badges, virtual currency, and leaderboards, they can be made both intuitive and enjoyable for the employees.
When properly implemented, gamification has the potential to make learning interesting, increase uptake of learning content, improve skills, boost productivity at work and drive business performance. Gamification can also be applied to disseminate information more effectively and innovatively.
At a time when digital technologies such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) are transforming the enterprise, gamification is also emerging as an enabler of enterprise transformation.
The online music streaming company, Spotify, for example, replaced its annual review system with a mobile gamified solution. The result? A 90% rate of employee participation, even when participation was voluntary. 
At a time when digital technologies such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) are transforming the enterprise, gamification is also emerging as an enabler of enterprise transformation. Largely driven by the rise of millennials in the workforce, organisations are instituting bring your own device (BYOD) policies that encourage employees to use personal devices at work.
As smartphones and tablets become the dominant devices in the workplace, gamification is emerging as the corresponding software component that binds employees, organisational values and objectives.
Recognising the importance of employee engagement
The rapid acceleration of digital business transformation is significantly altering how work is done. Organisations that have embraced digital technologies are experiencing greater flexibility in day-to-day operations, as well as increased collaboration with both customer-facing activities and internal processes. While customer engagement is being redefined in the digital era, the same cannot be said about employee engagement yet.
Even as technology emerges to facilitate process change at unprecedented rates, for transformation to bear optimal results, organisations must account for the people aspect as well. They need to recognise the importance of employee engagement in relation to key organisational outcomes.
The wide-ranging applications of gamification can transform the way employees interact with their organisations. With its ability to motivate employees and simultaneously measure performance, gamification can push organisations to put employees at the forefront of change by inspiring them to embrace desired behavioural changes.
Unlocking business value through gamification
Embracing gamification to increase employee engagement levels involves understanding employee behaviour using analytics tools as well as creating an effective feedback and performance measurement mechanism.
Similar to how games have distinct levels, scores and points, a typical job should also have targets, incentives and promotions. By introducing these game elements into real-life work scenarios and their processes, organisations can gather vital insights about employee behaviour, creating a virtuous information loop that drives the engagement strategy.
Making it happen
Here are some prerequisites for effective gamification:
Gauging business value
The key to successful gamification lies in identifying goals and metrics for the desired business outcome. Areas where key metrics need to be improved upon are best suited for gamification. Once an organisation is able to develop a clear view of where and what change in behaviour and skills is desired, it can easily derive business value.
Introducing game elements
Gamification entails understanding how to deploy game elements into the process the end-user is involved in. Asking the following questions can guide organisations to get started on their game design, one that is inherently social in nature:
- Metrics: Are there specific measurable metrics or actions that need to be changed or improved?
- Feedback: Is there a way to provide immediate feedback to the player?
- Game mechanics: Is there a way to integrate game mechanics into the business process in which the user is already engaged?
- Mastery: Is there a path to mastery?
- Social: Will the process improve by adding social elements?
- Engagement: Will increased user engagement improve the metrics?
Setting and maintaining the momentum
Gamification does not work in silos—leaders need to embed the organisation’s core objectives and values into the gamification effort. Likewise, rewards and HR programmes will need to be closely linked to the initiative so employees can easily understand how their scores will impact their career progression.
Once the foundation is in place, organisations need to continuously ensure the gamified elements of the process are fresh, challenging and rewarding. As gamification is able to provide behavioural data, organisations are also able to closely monitor employee engagement and take proactive measures accordingly.
Understanding behaviour patterns
Behaviour patterns are linked to the metrics the organisation seeks to measure, and these metrics need to be determined from the very beginning. Once the metrics are put in place, challenges and incentives can be introduced to influence different types of behaviour. Incentives also need to be fine-tuned to optimise behaviour change. Continuous monitoring of the metrics helps identify and handle unintended consequences.
Technological evolution is now making it possible for organisations to truly engage their employees.
Creating effective feedback loops
Feedback loops not only keep gamification going, but also provide insights into employee behaviour by generating data that can be refined with behavioural analytics. Feedback loops consist of three main elements:-
i.Motivation: What is the motivation for a person to take the intended action?
ii.Action: What is the intended behaviour?
iii. Feedback: What is the mechanism to provide feedback once the action has been performed? Will this feedback act as a motivator?
Get your game on!
Creating an engaged workforce should be a top priority for every organisation. In an increasingly competitive global economy, a lack of employee engagement with new systems can be costly when organisations are undergoing a digital transformation.
Technological evolution is now making it possible for organisations to truly engage their employees. With gamification, the virtual world can help tackle real-world issues by making it possible to harness insights from the abundant data being generated in today’s digitally-enabled enterprises.
By adding game mechanics holistically to training and other business-critical processes, organisations can improve employee engagement, boost productivity and lift operational performance all by maximising the contribution of employees and leveraging their experience for greater business value.
Don’t just like this – share this. Markets and Markets, Jun 2013: Gamification Market Worth $5.5 Billion by 2018  Huffington Post, Jan 23, 2013: Gamification: The Hard Truths