Gamification is a relatively new buzz word in the industry; it is a trend that is still trying to find its place in the business world. In concept, gamification should drive engagement and improve productivity and quality. For those who might be new to the term, gamification is the application of game theory, mechanics and techniques into non-game applications or processes. Gamification works by leveraging people’s natural desires for competition, achievement, and status to improve user engagement, productivity, timeliness, and quality. Often, we see gamification applied in marketing campaigns or social and web communities, with an estimated 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies using or planning to use gamification techniques for marketing and customer retention.
The game mechanics typically applied are points, levels, badges, achievements and leaderboards. The application of these mechanics can be used to drive desired behavior. In most internal business processes, similar concepts exist; however, often these items are hidden in reports or employee reviews.
In operational groups, where productivity is critical to success, gamification adds a sense of competition and engagement with the staff. Every operation group tracks a series of key performance indicators (KPIs). A weighted productivity metric (benchmarked for level of effort) combined with a quality metric easily converts into a “score”. Publicizing the score with the individuals name creates a leaderboard. Making it public and visible feeds into the competitive nature of the staff. Adding to the leaderboard with prizes, awards or badges creates a reward system and adds urgency to that competition.
A real life implementation of these very simple techniques shows the tremendous value that gamification can add. At an outsourced service bureau, we took over a portion of our client company’s data entry work. The client company was skeptical of our ability to perform at a high level, and was benchmarking us against their internal resources. We implemented two public leaderboards (productivity and quality) and created an award system. The awards were small prizes (gift cards) and given at the end of each week with a larger prize given at the end of the year. The results were immediate and obvious. Our team was able to perform 50% more work in the same period and maintained a quality rating of 99.98%. The results were improved throughput and quality at a lower cost for our customer and continued growth for our service bureau as the client company shifted more of that work to our organization.
At the end of the day, gamification is just an evolution or extension of existing business practices. And, while it might have its detractors, in the right environment for the right audience, it can be a tool that can “level up” your team.
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