Dwindling employee loyalty is something that bothers every HR manager. In this article, guest writer Anand Srinivasan takes us through how workplace gamification can help battle this HR headache.
In the view of a majority of the employees, loyalty is limited to doing full justice to their role while they are a part of the organisation. Thus, employers need to be consistently conscious of EVP or Employee Value Proposition.
And this is exactly where the concept of gamification in the workplace comes into picture. Gamification ensures enhanced productivity and cultivates engagement in an otherwise monotonous work. This is done by leveraging the inherent human trait of competitiveness.
Gamification techniques let employees compete not just with others but also with themselves (past performance) for incentives. They can set their own goals in concurrence with their superiors and then strive to achieve them.
Why is gamification needed?
A 2012 Gallup research found that not even one out of 10 employees were truly ‘engaged’ in their jobs. 60 per cent employees were found to be ‘not engaged’ and 32 per cent were found to be ‘actively disengaged’. The findings from this study show that high employee turnover arising out of disengaged workers is a serious concern with HR departments across the globe.
On the other hand, the studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of gamification techniques by HR have been surprisingly positive and encouraging.
One study published by TalentLMS found that over 87 percent of employees agree that gamification helps them to improve their productivity. Here are a few benefits that gamification in the workplace provides.
Benefits of workplace gamification
Gamification in the hiring process helps HR teams improve their chances of hiring the best talent. The idea of incentive or reward based recruitment process can attract the most talented of the potential employee pool to apply for your job.
The US Army and the NSA have successfully launched games that let people compete in order to get recruited. Not only have these tactics helped in finding the best talent, but they have also contributed to improving the recruitment numbers.
Workplace gamification also makes it easier for a new employee to become a part of the organisation and get acquainted with the work culture. One of the most common workplace gamification techniques is to reward points and badges to workers based on how prompt they are with filling in time sheets or work reports.
Not only does gamification enable the workers to be better organised, but it also improves productivity of the team.
If applied smartly, you may also use gamification techniques to motivate your employees to acquire newer skills and update their knowledge. These techniques ensure that employees constantly strive to improve their performance. Not only does it make them more receptive to learning but also nurtures them to take an active part in the training process.
How to get started with gamification
Gamification in the workplace needs careful planning as well as implementation. It starts with a clear understanding of the objectives and then working your way backwards towards implementation strategies.
Understand the core objectives
The first step is to understand and clearly define the core objectives behind workplace gamification.
The objectives could be one or a combination of these – improving employee productivity, increasing their engagement at the job, filling time sheets on schedule, reducing labour turnover, etc. This first step is often the defining factor in the success or failure of the gamification process.
Identify the right incentives
It isn’t necessary for your incentives to be monetary in nature. In fact, in many cases, non-monetary incentives like certificates, badges, points, notifications, etc. work better. For gamification to work, it’s important to identify the incentive that works best for a process and tie it to a larger performance target.
For instance, you could reward your employees with virtual points for completing tasks like filling time sheets or checking in on time. Points gathered across several of these processes could be aggregated to determine a bigger incentive like certificate or financial reward.
A good example of this is how Uber rewards its drivers with bonuses. Uber drivers are incentivised with a bonus on the completion of a certain number of trips each day. These goals are then aggregated and Uber rewards its drivers with a bigger bonus at the end of the month based on the number of daily rewards they acquire.
In the case of Uber, financial incentives are what push drivers to be more productive. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. In one assembling factory, managers installed a light that would turn red if the workers took longer than needed to assemble an unit.This simple strategy was effective in driving more workers to complete assembling an unit before the light turned red.
It’s worth noting that what works in one setting may not be effective in another. Once your workplace gamification strategy has been implemented, it’s worth monitoring the process to check if the objectives are met in terms of performance improvement. If not, you may need to tweak the system and go through all the steps again until the core objectives are met.
Real life examples
Xerox was dealing with high turnover rates and issues with trainee engagement. They introduced a game-based application called “Stepping Up to Management” for their management trainees.
This application worked in conjunction with their existing training program, whereby trainees could use their newly learnt skills to real situations and the top achievers could see their names on leader-boards. This not only enhanced the effectiveness of the training programme but also significantly reduced the trainee turnover rates.
Similar to the US army, Marriott too designed a Facebook game called “MyMarriottHotel”, in which players had to assume the role of a hotel manager and undertake all activities from buying ingredients, sourcing equipment, cooking and presenting the prepared dishes at the counter in a simulated scenario. This game was successfully used as an aid for recruitment.
While it can be argued a few of these techniques discussed in the article isn’t workplace gamification in the traditional sense, it’s worth pointing out that as long as the strategy helps meet the core objective (increasing recruitment numbers, in this case), it doesn’t matter what form of game techniques are deployed.
About the Author
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Hubbion was rated among the top 20 project management tools by Capterra in 2017.