This month we explore the connection between employee engagement and gamification. It's a partnership that many companies have been wrestling with for a few years now. The idea that incorporating simple, but meaningful "games" into workflows can somehow enhance an employee's productivity, while providing some healthy competition isn't so far-fetched. But like anything designed to disrupt the traditional nature of work, the success of gamifying the workplace comes down to people and process.
When done correctly, gamification can inspire, motivate and help team members collaborate more effectively and more organically overtime. And face it, most us need to feel inspired and could use to be motivated about work, these days. In fact, according to the recent Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, seventy-one percent of American workers are not actively engaged at work and as a result are less likely to be productive. Lack of productivity doesn't just mean lack of innovation or decreased revenues, it also means lower morales and bad attitudes.
Earlier this week, Jason Silberman talked about the pros and cons of game mechanics, in which he calls gamification "one of the more interesting and unique organizational learning strategies that are worth considering trying." And many companies are wading into the gamification waters. In fact, in just three years Gartner predicts that those companies who are focused on increased and improved innovation, more than half will have gamified their processes.
How Gamification Works
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for turning work into games. Additionally, not all work needs to be a game. It's important for companies to not only understand the outputs that need work, but the impact that their company culture has on those outputs. At the widget factory, for instance, if the number of widgets being made are not meeting demand, handing out rewards for those who can make the most widgets in a hour probably won't help the company if the reason people are slow is because a piece of machinery is broken, or they're waiting for quality control to review their work.
What is it that you want to accomplish by gamifying your workflow? If it's to boost morale, it's best to take a closer look at who your employees are and what has impacted their company outlook. Sometimes, you might be able to turn things around simply by offering more vacation days or flexible work schedules, than if you tried to force them to play games. Of course, if your employees are stuck in a rut, some meaningful "game-like" activities may help them look at things from different perspectives and breathe new life into projects.
Put Some Fun in Your Toolbox
Chances are if you tell your team you're gamifying the way they work, they'll either roll their eyes or expect to play Call of Duty during lunch. But in fact, what you're trying to do is just tweak the way they approach tasks. If you're able to incorporate subtle elements, rather than officially declaring them, you might have an easier time and get better results. In a recent report from Deloitte, they outlined a few gamified elements, leaders can use to better engage employees. They include creating progress paths, using feedback and rewards, leveraging social networks and improving user interfaces to make it easier to share information and engage internally (and virtually).
Overall, gamification in the workplace is as easy or complicated as you and your organizational culture make it. There isn't one specific template for success. However, when gamification seems like more work than fun, you'll know you're doing it wrong.