Summer is over, and while I’m always sorry to see it go, fall in New England is an exciting time. Everyone hunkers back down to work and there’s a sense of renewal and possibility. Right now, I’m particularly excited about gamification, which lends Leaders and HR pros some incredible tools to make work more productive and fun.
Gamification uses online gaming and smart design to engage employees, boost performance and give a jolt of adrenaline to everyone’s work lives. At its best, gamification is a blast! And many people believe it works. Which is why 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies have announced plans to deploy it in some form or other.
The field is growing by leaps and clicks. To get a sense of what all the buzz is about, I suggest checking out the sites of the some of these interesting and innovative players, including Bunchball, Badgeville, Knack, Gamify and BigDoor. These brands are definitely onto something and getting to know them is a real education. Please note: there are so many players in this game that I have yet to even unfold yet. This is by no means a complete list.
Like all Great HR technology and Leadership tools, Gamification is only as good as the people who use it. Just throwing up a few games and hoping for the best is a prescription for poor execution and business results.
Let’s Look At 5 Ways Leaders Can Get Maximum Value From Gamification:
1) Customize. Every organization is unique and for your gamification to succeed, it must genuinely reflect your workplace culture, mission, practices, and needs. You want seamless integration and alignment so that when people play, their loyalty and performance is growing in a way that helps you move towards your shared leadership goals. This means your gamification must link with your existing workplace culture and IT infrastructure, otherwise there will be a wall between the games and your real world of work and employees. Accomplishing this requires sophisticated software, designed with a lot of input from Leadership and HR.
2) Reward And Recognize. When people do well with gamification, they must be well and aptly rewarded and recognized. And points, badges and gift cards to Applebees without any reason WHY don’t cut it. The rewards must represent something meaningful and lead to career advancement, money, and/or real recognition from colleagues and leaders. Remember: gamification isn’t a game, it’s a serious leadership tool and must be treated as such.
3) Keep Your Branding Fresh. Am I the only one who thinks the whole world has ADD these days? Things change so quickly, and we’re bombarded with so much stimuli, that keeping people engaged requires continuous upgrades and enhancements of your gamification program. Once it gets stale, people will turn off and gamification will just become one more chore. So plan ahead, make sure you’ve got at least six months of new twists turns ready to roll about before you debut your program.
4) Make It Fun. We’ve all had Facebook fatigue, and even pledged to go cold turkey. Then, an hour later, we’re back checking updates and status. Why? Because social media IS dynamic, ever-changing, and, at their best, just plain fascinating (pet pics notwithstanding). They’re vibrant social communities. You want to create the same kind of exciting dynamic with your gamification. This encourages honest and fair competition and a sense of ownership and anticipation. Make it fun and you have the chance for a leadership tool that builds community and ultimately transcends the workplace and engages people body, mind, and soul.
5) Support Your Team! Successful gamification requires buy-in and support at the highest levels of your organization. It can’t just be an add-on, or the latest managerial fad du jour. Make sure your gamification manager has direct access to leaders, and some real authority. It may be too early to think about naming a Chief Gamification Officer. Then again, it may not. Halfway measures will ensure halfway results. Give gamification the leadership support it deserves.
Gamification is a relatively new field, but it’s yielding undeniable employee engagement and HR results. Because its online it feels trendy and exciting, but scratch the surface and it’s a new variation on tried and true leadership practices: it motivates and engages employees and leads to stellar results. Let the HR Games Begin! Rule #1 – Unless you actually try you cannot comment and be taken seriously. You must be in it to win it.