Gamification is looking like it could be a great way for organisations to engage with workers, particularly the ‘Facebook generation’, to boost productivity and customer service. However, with analysts predicting that 80% of gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives by 2014, the thought of understanding the concept of gamification, let alone implementing it, might sound like an uphill battle.

The consumerisation of IT has taken hold and is a fact of life for most organisations. People expect to use technology similar to the devices they use at home and in their personal lives. They expect to use social media and increasingly they are completely turned off by the traditional interfaces of many older business applications.

Organisations looking to recruit and retain tomorrow’s top talent can do a lot to ensure that they manage their workforce, including introducing gamification techniques that actively improve employee engagement and help boost productivity.

Gamification uses game theory to introduce a competitive element to work operations that use social capital, self-esteem and fun to appeal to the workforce. It forms an important aspect of employee reward and recognition schemes, and can be used to encourage staff to work towards corporate goals.

Understanding how gamification works is one thing, making it a viable option that works in a real-life business environment is something quite different. Here is a practical guide, a simple three-step methodology that will put you on the road to successful gamification.

  1.  Gain Buy-In
  • Don’t assume everyone understands the concept of gamification and make sure to position it as a motivational reward and recognition system rather than just another fad.
  • What’s in it for the players? Linking rewards to something tangible like cake and coffee, or even monetary gain, will grab their attention.
  • Recognise that not all players are the same – challenges and rewards need to reflect differences in roles and function.
  • Don’t commit to promises of rewards you can’t keep – a sure-fire way to demotivate your team.
  1.  Start Simple
  • Wait until everyone is familiar with gamification before introducing more complex, longer-term goals and rewards.
  • Go slowly to build up confidence and keep players keen – start with simple challenges and rewards that encourage healthy competition between players such as ‘highest weekly customer satisfaction rating’, ‘lowest service level agreement stats’, ‘lowest number of re-opened incidents’ or ‘highest number of approved knowledge base articles submitted in a month’.
  • Decision criteria for determining winners should be based on measurable statistics such as being ‘rated 5 out of 5 by a customer’ rather than just ‘closing 10 incidents a day’.
  • Make first-time rewards attainable to keep new players motivated.
  • Create tiered rewards that motivate players to continually do better.
  • Mix it up – apply different rewards for different Service Desk groups at different times but make sure players are competing against colleagues performing similar tasks.
  • Don’t be ‘out-gamed’ – minimise the opportunities to cheat by keeping rewards criteria clear and strict.
  • Align gaming scenarios with business objectives to keep them real and meaningful – after all, gamification is all about supporting the business!
  1.  Monitor & Iterate
  • Continually review the effectiveness of your gamification techniques – is everyone participating? Are there enough rewards and challenges to keep players interested in the long term?
  • Listen to staff feedback – more often than not, they will know what works, what does not and come up with fresh ideas.
  • It’s an evolving process – constantly tweak and roll-out new challenges and rewards to keep up momentum.

In today’s collaborative world, using clever technology that integrates the concepts of game theory is essential to gaining the support of younger staff – they are tomorrow’s business leaders. Engaging them in a way that entertains and educates is vital to creating a dynamic and thriving work environment. By introducing gamification successfully, companies can look forward to increased employee motivation that boosts productivity and impacts positively on customer service, and ultimately the organisation’s bottom line.