There’s a time for work and a time for play – at least that’s what many of us were taught growing up. As a result, we’ve come to believe the two concepts to be mutually exclusive, the one simply a means to achieve the other. But, contrary to popular belief, work and play in fact go hand in hand rather nicely.
In a world afflicted by attention span shortage, games have emerged as an effective, engaging productivity tool, and they’re quickly taking the business world by storm. Now, by games we don’t mean the occasional sneaky round of Candy Crush played surreptitiously under your desk. We’re talking well-crafted, incentive based programs, designed to promote both enjoyment and efficiency in the workplace.
Gamification has long been a buzzword in business circles, with enterprises now having established that, by adding an element of game play to what would otherwise be regarded as a mundane activity, they can outshine competitors and significantly boost sales. Take Nike for example, whose Nike + concept, which encouraged users to share their running distances and work towards predefined goals, helped them to increase their market share by a massive 14% over just 4 years.
That’s a pretty incredible upswing for a company already enjoying fairly monumental success, and is testament to the ability of gamification to shift mindsets and alter behavior. Now imagine the kind of impact it could have within the walls of your workplace.
A number of companies have now begun to explore internal gamification strategies, with many already having reported significant gains as a result. They range from the simple – Target has a red and green light system that tracks teller checkout times and encourages faster product swiping – to the complex – employees at IBM have entire virtual cities that they manage – but in most cases, gamification efforts have seen a correlating uptick in productivity as well as overall employee engagement.
Leveraging game play elements, companies are now also able to convey complex concepts, promote learning and reinforce retention more effectively. Mission-critical business concepts that might otherwise be regarded as mundane can be given new life via gamification – check out how we got Danone’s employees excited about compliance (and that’s no easy feat).
So how do you get your game on and go about implementing strategies that both entertain and engage your workforce? Here are a few tips to get you started:
SET CLEAR BUSINESS GOALS
Are you looking to reduce call time in your contact centre? Perhaps you’re looking for a more efficient way to attract new employees. It’s important from the outset that you have a very specific game plan if you want gamification efforts to be effective. ‘Increased productivity’ isn’t the type of objective that’s going to cut it in the gamification space. You may as well set your employees loose playing Farmville all day long. By setting single-minded goals, you’ll be able to easily figure out the steps needed to achieve them, and devise effective gamification triggers that can shift employee behavior accordingly.
THINK ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE
Many businesses have employed gamification merely as a means to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of their workforce, using goals and incentives to drive performance. But to focus solely on results is missing the point of gamification. Yes it’s part of the overall end-game, but this can be achieved in more ways than simply dangling proverbial carrots for your employees to grab. More complex gaming designs, which work towards alleviating administration and simplifying tasks for employees, will often have a more positive long-term result, and go a long way towards boosting morale and organic productivity.
INCENTIVIZE AND RECOGNIZE
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your employees are solely incentivized by financial reward. Leaving a wad of 100 dirham bills on the desk for the first person to complete their day’s work is going to achieve nothing other than deep division within your ranks. Ultimately, your employees will be motivated to do better work by being given proper recognition for their efforts, so think about assigning honorary titles to employees who go above and beyond each month. It might be something as simple as an ‘Employee of the Month’ award, or you might want to be more specific and offer recognition for workers in various spheres of the business. Either way, you need to ensure that there’s a tangible goal at the end of the game that keeps your employees hungry to keep outdoing themselves.
PROMOTE TEAM SPIRIT
Competition in the workplace can be fierce at the best of times, so it’s probably best not to set your employees off against each other in head-to-head battle. That being said, nobody likes to play alone, so why not allow your employees to use your gaming system as a means to build each other up. Many companies have successfully enforced concepts like virtual currency, which enables employees to ‘gift’ their fellow colleagues when they feel they’ve done an especially good job. This can then be redeemed for various prizes once employees have tallied up enough ‘money’. Initiatives like these help to promote a healthy team spirit, and ensure employees feel like they’re working together rather than against each other.