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8 Gamification Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement

From having virtual meetings over Zoom to water cooler conversations on Houseparty, Covid-19 has forced millions to work and connect from the confines of their homes. We’ve all heard about the difficulties of a quick change to work from home culture. What about the employees who don’t have conducive work environments? Or those who relied on daily human interaction to drive them forward at work and in their own lives? With such a disruptive event we’d assume that most employees would be miserable, right? But guess what? The data might just surprise you!

Studies1 have suggested that many employees who work from home will end up outperforming their in office efforts for a variety of reasons. First, many employees may end up being more productive due to factors including lack of commute, their ability to create a comfortable working space, and a shift towards a result based culture rather than hours logged that is necessitated by distance. These factors can actually lead to a positive impact on mental and physical health, because who enjoys wasting two hours a day in traffic, or only seeing their family for a few hours a day? However, these studies weren't conducted while there was an on-going pandemic that has added new wrinkles and generalized anxieties to the equation. While working from home can be a boon, it comes with downsides like employees working longer hours at a more intense pace due to a lack of delineation between work and home. This in turn has caused significant stress in the lives of employees at companies big and small.2

As a means to break up repetitive work and make sure employees feel acknowledged and appreciated, implementing elements of games into work is a shot in the arm your employees might need. What does this mean? Adding fun rewards, friendly competition, and targeted goals is a great way to get your employees excited to walk in the front door every day. Playing up and harnessing our natural instinct to compete is an awesome way to boost morale, and performance as well!  In fact, research3 suggests that over 90% of employees are more productive when gamification techniques are applied, with over 72% of them reporting it inspires them to work harder. Fun and games can be more than just fun and games if done right!

Gamification for Employee Engagement: Why It Works

Gamification has the potential to stimulate stagnated minds and rekindle that vital spark so important for the workplace. Organisations can engage and motivate employees to pick up new skills, improve workplace behaviour, and devise new ways of problem-solving. 

Gamification techniques use positive reinforcement to motivate employees. By breaking down large tasks into more manageable chunks, gamification stimulates the neural pathways to learn over time, and:

  • It builds team spirit and brings in a sense of healthy competition.
  • It allows employees to think outside the box and find novel solutions to existing problems.
  • It improves the feedback system and provides real-time appraisals that allow employees to assess themselves.

All of these factors can be massive drivers of productivity and creativity in an organization. Encouraging your employees to throw conventional wisdom out the window can lead to huge rewards. How many amazing inventions have been the product of creative thought? You’d be handcuffing yourself if you didn’t encourage that type of thinking.

And this is only the tip of the gamification iceberg. We’ve got 8 great ways to get your employees engaged through gamification starting today.

 

8 Strategies for Gamification to Motivate Employees

 

#1 Divide And Conquer

For any task that can be modularised, divide the work into independent chunks and engage competing teams to get the job done. This will have the desired effect of inducing employees to a competitive work ethic. By fostering fun competition both within teams and between functions you encourage employees to drive themselves to be the best they can be. For example, our sales and marketing team decided to take on the CEO’s office for the largest amount of funds raised in a dedicated. Let’s not talk about who won.... Okay, okay, it wasn’t us! But we had a great time doing it.

PRO TIP: create a Slack channel, Google sheet, Notion Doc, Trello Board, JIRA workflow, or any other progress tracking software so your competing employees can get real time updates on the other team. Nothing like looking up at a scoreboard you’re losing on to help get yourself in gear!

 

#2 Leveling Up

Training new recruits can often be a big challenge, but gamification can help in this regard. Rather than bogging down new employees with months of uninteractive and complicated onboarding (a key reason 31% of employees quit in the first six months) an entire training program can be broken down into multiple levels. As employees complete each level, they can then be rewarded for progressing to the next. In turn, new recruits are substantially more likely to get invested in the training process and allows them to pick up new skills. Getting them up to speed quicker also means you’re getting better ROI from the onboarding process as you’re not wasting valuable work hours bringing someone up to speed slowly.

A great example of this technique can be found in an implementation done by Salesforce.4 They have created a Gamification system where sales personnel begin using the system at the lowest levels of Chicken Hunter, and eventually level up towards the coveted title of Big Game Hunter.

PRO TIP: Give your levels of progression quirky names, and build to a big reward. It’s not about the amount of money you spend, but more the thought and effort that go into what the employees receive when they rank through the process.

 

#3 Rewards Galore

Everybody loves a gift, and demoralized employees can actually perk up once you give them the chance to win. Introducing a reward-based system that recognizes achievements will have the desired effect of getting employees back in the game (pun intended).

Take the case of Freshdesk5 which turns customer enquiries into tickets that are randomly assigned to employees for resolution. This morphs the entire call-receiving process into a game. By providing recognition and incentives to employees who perform well, Freshdesk has managed to increase engagement successfully.

PRO TIP: Try to balance between useful, fun gifts and gifts that could in fact help employees actualize and improve in their roles. Maybe after the first milestone you give them some of their favorite candy, and after the second you give them a copy of the CEO’s favorite book with a personalized note from them.

 

#4 Weekly Quizzes

Meetings can get a little monotonous. The less interactive, the more monotonous a meeting can become. Turn meetings into quizzes. Engage everyone in the game, and see who is the most up to date on work matters.

Set a prize or even a cash incentive for the best performer. Soon you'll find employees looking forward to the next meeting. And this ends up fostering some healthy competition and keeps everyone well prepared.

PRO TIP: Awesome quiz services and online collaborative games like Kahoot and skribbl.io are free, easy to use, and can help to bring a team together in unexpected ways! You might just have an amateur Picasso on your team you never knew about. 

 

#5 Social Recognition 

Now that we are dispersed across the world, utilize social media for publicly recognizing employee achievements.

Reward them with a place of special mention on the company page, tag top performers in a Facebook post, and celebrate achievements on LinkedIn. Soon you'll find employees scrolling through to that time of the month again.

Bluewolf6 achieved maximum employee engagement on social using a gamification-based social media engagement program called #GoingSocial.

PRO TIP: Acknowledging successful employees online not only makes them feel special but also makes their connections, or other job seekers, aware of how well your organization treats high performers. A high NPS makes hiring easier, so leverage your social media presence to help both attract and retain top talent.

 

#6 Upskilling

In the current business scenario, employees need to upskill fast or be left behind. However, it has been generally seen that employees aren't always keen on learning new skills. By gamifying upskilling processes, businesses can drive better employee participation.

Deloitte infused gamification principles to ensure that employees register and complete courses within the Deloitte Leadership Academy program.7

PRO TIP: There are so many great remote learning websites, and enrolling your employee in a course that they’re passionate about shows that you pay attention to what they enjoy or are interested in. Plus, they then bring back their learnings to the company and can in turn expand their role.

 

#7 Conversations Always Helps 

Communication is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement. Unless HR managers take the time to establish coherent communication channels that answer employee queries satisfactorily, morale is bound to lag.

By using chatbots to create an employee engagement platform, HR managers can free themselves for other tasks that need immediate attention. And employees can get the help they need, whenever and whichever way they want it.

PRO TIP: If employees don’t feel listened to they will leave, full stop. Getting the right tool, or creating strong channels for feedback and two-way communication will help you keep the employees you can’t afford to lose.

 

#8 Make Work Mission-Based

Team building is one of the major benefits of Gamification, and this can be best fostered through actual team-based exercises. When assigning work, pit teams in a friendly competition that encourages better performance. 

Don't assign teams to projects; assign them to missions that need to be completed in time. By making work mission-based, you instill a sense of adventure in every piece of work.

PRO TIP: Shoot for the stars with these mission goals. Creating a north star, or “dream” objective for an organization can encourage your employees to think outside the box and jumpstart processes that you may have never considered.

 

Does Gamification for Engagement Actually Work?

To ensure the safety of all our teammates amidst the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve been working from home since late March and will not be returning to office until deemed safe to do so. We know that the only way to handle this crisis responsibly is to take every safety measure, and with cases skyrocketing worldwide being in tight quarters is a recipe for disaster.

For many, if not most, inFeedo employees this is the first time we’re working from home for such an extensive period. How did we start gamification right off the bat? Well, our kickass People Team wanted everyone to be their most productive selves from day one, so they set up a game based around that creating a designated workstation at home. Enter the #doyourdeskchallenge.

One important part of gamification was the fact this challenge wasn’t mandatory. It was completely voluntary, but our participation rate was still awesome! Gentle nudges and actually exciting gamification techniques are much more effective than dragging people kicking and screaming into a game they find meaningless. So, the #doyourdesk challenge. We were all challenged to set up a creative, fun, and productive place to work, click a picture of it, and post it on our company Slack channel with the above mentioned hashtag. The reward for the best workstation as decided by our peers? An Amazon gift card, because who doesn’t want to (safely) binge shop during a pandemic! 

And guess what? The results of #doyourdesk were spectacular!

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Not only were people excited to share what their dedicated workstations looked like, their pets participated too! 

If you're curious, here's what the winning workstation looks like. 

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Gamification at Work: You Can’t Afford Not To!

Something that seemed trivial in short-term has been significantly important for long-term productivity. 

Could we have achieved the same level of engagement if we had sent an email instead of holding a competition? Most definitely not and it wouldn't have been as fun for sure! So implement gamification techniques today and watch morale go through the roof.


Gregory S Mathew
Gregory S Mathew
Former Content Writer at inFeedo

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