05 Feb 2016 19:36 IST

Going to work or play?

The multifaceted nature of gamification can bring big benefits, especially with younger employees

Sports, especially the likes of cricket and soccer, have a way of reducing perfectly normal, sane and successful adult people into overexcited or sulky children. In an instant, one goes from shouting out what sound like war cries to going into depression. No wonder, such engagement has always made business sense, spawning new sports formats such as the T-20, Kabbadi leagues and so on.

Imagine bringing the same levels of excitement and engagement into the workplace! Work and play are oxymoronic, one can’t be possibly having fun while poring over complicated Excel sheets or presiding over one of those long conference calls. For long, the corporate world has been trying to marry these strange bedfellows, knowing well the resultant benefits. Thus, came initiatives and efforts to build fun at the workplace. In today’s world, gamification is a new way of infusing engagement and fun at work. By introducing gaming elements into workplaces, the element of fun is now being used to drive far more serious and objective outcomes, such as culture building, crowdsourcing, employee engagement, learning and collaboration.

I was introduced to the power and impact of gamification when I started playing the ubiquitous Angry Birds and then graduated to other games like Candy Crush and Farmville, to name a few. These games appealed to my competitive nature, catered to my achievement orientation, and created a burning desire to progress and move to the next levels, while continuously exposing me to the prospects of gaming-related networking and collaboration.

Benefits of gamification

The multifaceted nature of gamification has immense possibilities and benefits from an HR standpoint, especially with the younger generation of employees who have grown up on a steady diet of PS games. Gaming concepts have applicability in the following HR areas:

~~ Talent acquisition: Instead of forming impressions based on a well-prepared resume and practised interviews, getting prospective employees to play customised games that assess one’s suitability for specific positions can help companies significantly enhance the job fit and culture fit of new hires. Companies like L’Oreal and PWC are already using this approach.

~~ Culture building: By leveraging gamification, companies can help employees experience the organisation’s culture and imbibe key organisational behaviour. Zappos, Marriot and Google have used gamification to drive change management and enhance process compliance, collaboration and innovation.

~~ Learning and development: Through gamification, companies have successfully transferred learning from classrooms to workplace applications. For example, a leading consulting organisation successfully helped its Indian employees understand the complex taxation laws of multiple countries.

~~ Leadership Development: Simulation games are increasingly used to assess leadership capabilities along with various other tools. The analytics provided by such simulations go a long way in building a targeted development plan for future leaders.

Key considerations

While there are a lot of benefits associated with gamification, one needs to exercise caution while implementing such games. The following four key considerations should be kept in mind before embarking upon a gamification strategy

Ensure there is a strong business case and buy-in from the top management

Have a clear vision and approach

State the objective of gamification and the expected results

Define the target audience

Gamification is an innovation where technology meets behavioural sciences and analytics. The possibilities are immense when used for the right reason and in the right context. Success stories abound about companies that have successfully leveraged gamification to derive business impact.

Gamification is about taking the essence of games — fun, play, transparency, design and challenge — and applying it to real-world objectives rather than pure entertainment. In a business setting, that means designing solutions for everything, from office tasks and training to marketing and direct customer interaction by combining the thinking of a business manager with the creativity and tools of a game designer.

Recruitment, collaboration

L'Oreal uses games in its recruitment process to identify the potential strengths of applicants and direct them to the appropriate departments for interviews.

After T-Mobile incorporated gamification within its employee collaboration platform, participation increased 96 per cent, contributions jumped 583 per cent and responses skyrocketed 783 per cent. The company also saw a 31 per cent improvement in customer satisfaction scores, 40 per cent improvement in call deflection, resulting in reduced support costs, and month-over-month improvement of call resolution rates and customer satisfaction scores.

The Coca-Cola Company used gamification to update its loyalty programme and connect the brand with new, younger consumers. Leveraging its “Open Happiness” mantra, Coke wanted its loyalty programme to convey happiness to site visitors, drive repeat visits and encourage users to share content with their networks and grow the community. The brand expanded its definition of rewards to include extrinsic elements such as exclusive and advance access, and intrinsic rewards such as badges and experiences. The new platform allows My Coke Rewards to reward both social and interactional loyalty – but not only on a transactional basis – and early figures for membership and social engagement have exceeded expectations.

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