Sustaining employee engagement through gamification

 

Via Ian Brownhill, Businesswings.co.uk

“Video games have changed the way we play; they’re now set to change working life as well.”

“If you don’t already know what a strong hold games have on contemporary culture, it’s time to find out. They’re now bigger than Hollywood. In November 2011, ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ grossed US$775m in just five days – outselling ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’, Hollywood’s biggest-ever blockbuster, by 60%.

Games are no longer just for teenage boys: the average gamer is 37 years old and 42% of gamers are women. They play solo and in teams, using dedicated consoles, PCs, mobile phones and social media such as Facebook. Games have shaped the consciousness of a generation – including business people who are now entering the ranks of senior management.

How games foster engagement

What could game techniques offer, in the context of employee engagement? Gaming guru Jane McGonigal believes that games have enormous potential in the real world because they:

  • Increase optimism by holding out the possibility of an ‘epic win’
  • Help to build a social fabric – multi-player games encourage socialisation
  • Enable productivity – people are happier when gaming than when just ‘relaxing’;
  • Create meaning by allowing people to take on inspiring missions

Gaming has many other features that can help to build employee engagement, including:

‘Gamification’ is the ugly new word that’s been coined to describe the use of gaming techniques outside the pure gaming arena

  • The constant feedback participants receive on their progress through scoring mechanisms – contrasted with annual performance reviews in most companies
  • Clear success criteria, rewards and most important of all, public recognition – through the use of achievement badges, Facebook-type ‘post a comment’ features, sport-style leaderboards, and reward points
  • Permission to fail, which facilitates learning– a taboo within traditional corporate cultures but acceptable (even celebrated) in gaming
  • The ability to collect and analyse performance data, allowing companies to track progress and see where change is needed

‘Gamification’ is the ugly new word that’s been coined to describe the use of gaming techniques outside the pure gaming arena. The trend began with online product marketing, but during the last two years, interest has spread to so-called ‘enterprise’ applications.

Here are some public domain examples that we have come across:

IBM’s INNOV8 2.0

INNOV8 2.0 is IBM’s Business Process Management (BPM) simulation game. A 3-D virtual reality game in the mould of Second Life, it allows players to form teams which jointly investigate problems, try out options, get feedback and make decisions. Demos can be viewed on http://www.ibm.com and YouTube.

Siemens’ PlantVille

PlantVille is Siemens’ FarmVille-style game that allows players to learn aboutthe interconnections of manufacturing processes.

Players get to manage a bottling, vitamin, or manufacturing plant using key performance indicators such as safety, quality and delivery. A series of demos is available on YouTube.

HEC Montreal’s ERPsim

HEC Montreal’s ERPsim is based on SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software applications. It is a real-time simulation game in which students have to run a business usingan SAP ERP system. Teams of five to six playersmake plans, operate the production process, sell productsand receive payments, becoming familiar with the complete business cycle. Information and videos are on http://erpsim.hec.ca/ and YouTube.

The UK Department of Work and Pensions’ Idea Street

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions created an innovation game called Idea Street – a collaborative application that includes points, leader boards and a ‘buzz index.’Inits first 18 months, the game attracted 4,500 users and generated 1,400 ideas. Some information about Idea Street is available on Spark, a website about state-sector innovation, http://www.sparkdev.co.uk/

The future: development of soft skills and behaviours

The first phase of enterprise gamification has focused on core business functions, systems and processes where there is a clear business case and a history of using training and education tools.

We predict that in the near future, gamification will be used to develop soft skills and behaviours that are equally important to the business but have an ROI that’s more difficult to establish, such the development of leadership, cross-functional and international collaboration, and the cultivation of values and behaviours as part of branding and employee engagement projects.”

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