Hundreds of companies have been embracing gamification to motivate workers. But it has to be done right, said Roni Floman of Israeli gamification firm GamEffective.
“There are a lot of elements involved, like how to present rewards, which rewards to present, how to get ensure that employees don’t feel that they are being judged, etc.,” said Floman. “You have to have the right criteria, and the right incentives. It requires just the right touch, and we provide that.”
Gamification refers to the incentivizing component of game-playing – the points, rewards, badges, contests, etc., that are associated with gaming. Thus, members of a sales team might find their names on a video game-like leaderboard, with a quantity of bananas or teddy bears indicating their sales success. They might be given missions (such as researching customers) for which they get badges, or they might get points for spending time with customers.
The data is collated and filed; a reward may or may not be given (something small, non-cash works best, GamEffective has found); and the information is then used for employee evaluation or other purposes.
It might not be fun but it does motivate, said Floman, and gamification is getting more popular all the time because of the positive benefits for both employees and employers. “There are examples all around us. LinkedIn users, for example, see their accomplishment bar fill in towards 100% as they complete their profile.” That bar, said Floman, has helped LinkedIn significantly increase its user engagement, and has gotten more people to use the platform for longer periods of time.
Among the benefits of gamification, said Floman, is an atmosphere of openness that employees don’t get with traditional performance reviews and evaluations.
“Many employees feel that the traditional methods of evaluating them are arbitrary, and there is often a lot of resentment,” Floman said. “When performance is evaluated by the results of contests, quizzes, point accumulation – the data culled from the results of the daily gamified work environment – employees feel much safer, much more secure, and much more fairly treated.”
In fact, more and more companies are dumping their traditional evaluation systems, among them international finance firm Deloitte. A new evaluation system implemented last year has “no cascading objectives, no once-a-year reviews, and no 360-degree-feedback tools,” the company said in a blog post. The reason for the change? An internal poll, said Deloitte, showed that “more than half the executives questioned (58%) believe that [the previous] performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance.”
But for gamification to work, it has to be done right, said Floman. “It can’t be just about dressing up regular activities with badges and the like – that’s not enough to make a gamified environment different and more motivating. We go beyond badges or leaderboards, using rich game narratives to give employees clear calls to action.”
Those narratives could include a fantasy sports environment, in which employees are placed on teams and their stats are logged and displayed, or an activity in which employee performance is displayed and related to as part of a race. The narratives provide a much more realistic gamification experience, and enhance motivation, said Floman.
In addition, companies have to ensure that they define the right goals and provide the right rewards. “Our software and analysis system ensures that the tasks we are rewarding employees for are for things that we actually want to happen. For example, many businesses reward employees in call centers for resolving calls more quickly, but that could mean that the employees shorten calls by hanging up on callers before resolving problems. Our system implements a complete gamified environment that determines the behavior and activities that companies want to measure and evaluate, and we provide them with the tools – the games, incentives, and other things – they need to accomplish this,” Floman added.
Established in 2013, the Ra’anana-based company raised $3 million last year and recently opened a sales office in the US. The company counts among its customers large enterprise firms like SAP, Amdocs, Oracle, Verint and Salesforce, among others, and, according to Floman, is one of the premier gamification firms in the world.
“Gamification will become a staple of enterprise software user interfaces, transforming corporate performance management and how goals and objectives are set and measured. ‘Game rules’ can direct employees to the right behaviors and cue them in rich, non-simplistic ways. This is the future of setting corporate and personal goals in the workplace,” said Gal Rimon, founder and CEO of GamEffective. “We are seeing an enormous interest in gamification of enterprise apps, our typical implementations leave lasting performance changes in organizational behavior.”