Gamification – Why Play?

via Kate hagemann @KVHagemann, bluewolf.com

I am not a ‘gamer.’ I have not downloaded Angry Birds to my iPhone. I do not regularly play any video games, excluding the occasional Rock Band performance. Don’t stop reading now though, thinking, “Why is she writing a blog about gamification?”

The answer is: gamification has actually brought out the gamer in me. This has proven to me that there is a value proposition for companies to embark upon the research, strategy and execution ofgamification for their organizations. Statistically, over 70% of employees are disengaged at work and are costing billions of dollars in lost productivity, poor performance, and poor service to their customers.

My personal experience with gamification at Bluewolf, with past employers, and current clients has helped me see how it can be used to engage currently disengaged employees and drive the desired behaviors.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics to encourage and reward certain behaviors. Some simple common examples include the use of earning points to drive consumer loyalty (think of airlines and hotels) or progress statuses like consumers see on Turbo Tax showing the road-map of where they are, when they will be done, current return or amount owed, etc.

With Wii Fit, consumers “unlock” new exercises upon completing others. Now, salesforce.com has plug-ins where organizations can leverage badges, points, rankings, and leaderboards to drive frequent, consistent, and quality user adoption of the organizations’ business processes within the application.

Advantages to Gamification:

  • Games can facilitate a sense of accomplishment. Showing people from where they came, where they are and where they are going gives purpose. It’s a proven fact that having goals, clear expectations and seeing value of a job done well drives engagement.
  • Games can facilitate healthy competition among sales people who are driven by being at the top of a leaderboard. I personally worked late one night just to get to the #1 seat on our Chatter Leaderboard. I was devastated when I awoke the next morning and had been bumped down to #3 by my UK team. I started posting more comments – relevant to my work – but mostly to get back to #1 (I’ll explain further in my next post).
  • Games drive more attempts to be successful. Statistically, the billions of people gaming lose 80% of the time, but still return to complete a challenge presented. The sense of accomplishment when presented with a challenge emits emotion where emotion may have previously been absent, also driving more engagement.
  • Implementing a gamification strategy can also simply be fun for employees and consumers. When done well, it shows colleagues and consumers that the organization cares about their engagement. A good tip is to leverage various employees in the organization and consumer focus groups to design the game to ensure what will be fun, relevant, and motivating to them.

Though a new word in the industry, gamification is not a new concept. For eons, humans have been motivated by competition, fun, and personal challenges. We just now have so many new technologies and social networks permitting us to reach a much wider audience. When done well through a full plan/execution strategy and the inclusion of employees and consumers, it can drive change and increase engagement providing an organization with some exciting results.

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