In recent years, gamification has acquired an important role: it is a technique which applies gaming principles and mechanics in non-recreational contexts.
However, Enterprise Gamification (i.e. gamification strategies in a business environment) is not just about turning work into a game.
In fact, it is aimed at improving company performance through the application of game mechanics, as well as in obtaining lasting and permanent behavioural changes.
If your job involves team management, or you have the responsibility for managing an entire organisation, this guide will give you a detailed insight of how gamification works and how you could implement it in your company.
Research from the Aberdeen Group has shown that companies which implement gamification are growing significantly, thus considerably outperforming their competitors.
In particular, those who correctly implement gamification techniques improve their annual revenues, lead conversion rates, and closing sales ratio.
Gamification is not restricted to a few sectors, but affects the whole organisation, as its goal is to give new energy to all its employees so that their productivity increases.
In this article, you will find all the information that will allow you to understand:
- The mechanisms of Enterprise Gamification.
- The sectors and areas of interest.
- The advantages that can be obtained through its correct implementation.
Many companies are already applying this approach and are enjoying great results. These “first movers” have shown that gamification is a considerably more powerful approach than current motivational techniques, as it manages to affect the factors which really motivate employees as people.
Exploiting this new approach requires a sound understanding of human behaviour. It is an approach which very different from current motivation techniques, used in most workplaces, since it are requires a change in your perspective and a reconsideration of certain concepts that may not initially seem intuitive.
Let’s analyse 5 fundamental principles of which you need to be careful when implementing gamification strategies in your company.
Identify your audience
The Individuals that compose your target audience are very likely to have different motivational levers and different personalities.
Therefore, it is necessary to consider these differences when thinking about implementing business applications. It is also essential to understand each of them if you want to motivate all your staff.
Professor Richard Bartle created “The Bartle test” for determining players’ psychology: it is a test that, through a series of questions and scores, allows the construction of a profile and classifies players into different behavioural categories:
- The Social
Social players are not as interested in the game as in the amusement they get from interacting with others, through teamwork and the building of relationships.
- The Explorer
In this case, the player is primarily interested in discovering and learning about new things.
- The Competitive
The goal of competitive players is to compete directly with others in order to win and to prove that they are the best.
- The Talented
This profile includes players who are interested in accumulating points, levels, badges and other elements that attest to their success.
In order to create long-term involvement, you need to think about how to communicate with all your users.
It is essential to establish a common language, starting with a list of verbs that describe motivation related to the profile that you are trying to involve and motivate.
When dealing with a social player, you will have to use terms that emphasise aspects of cooperation, sharing and help; while the competitive ones will be more attracted by keywords like “win”, “challenge” and “the best”.
Advice for successful Enterprise Gamification strategies
1. Identify the behavioural profiles of your participants.
2. List the words with which participants will easily identify, and which motivate them.
3. Make sure these words are reflected in:
- All your communication, in all channels.
- The challenges you launch.
- The prizes you offer.
- Create challenges that are relevant to the participants, their roles and their activities.
- Motivate participants at moments and in situations in which they have to make important decisions. This will make it necessary to exploit cloud and mobile platforms and applications.
5. Measure participants’ behaviour and establish a set of KPIs that can be analysed and show progress.
A game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master
Learning is a key element in involving people and encouraging them to take certain actions and to use tools and applications in the right way.
For this reason, the first thing to focus on is making your game easy to learn. A compelling experience enhances cognitive learning by giving you sense of personal fulfilment.
By providing an initial series of easy challenges and rewards, the game aims to create an initial experience which quickly promotes sense of accomplishment. This will increase involvement and facilitate initial rewards and prizes.
As engagement increases, the complexity of the challenges should also increase. Consequently, the rate at which prizes, points and badges are awarded should slow down, making it more difficult to achieve the set objectives, but which, at the same time, increases the sense of success.
But be careful: it is essential to find the right level of difficulty.
If you make the challenges too easy (or simply repeat the same challenges), participants will become bored and lose interest. If the challenges are too difficult, participants will initially become anxious and then abandon the game.
The use of intrinsic motivators and motivations
Again, this is an area where it is necessary to abandon a traditional belief, according to which monetary rewards are the most effective form of motivation.
In the case of complex cognitive tasks, other methods may be more effective.
3 main factors influence behavioural motivation:
- Autonomy: the desire of being independent.
- Mastery: the urgency to improve something that is considered important.
- Purpose (or belonging): the desire to be part of something greater than yourself.
If you pay attention to these intrinsic motivational factors when involving participants, you will find that they are actually more powerful than extrinsic drivers like points, levels or monetary rewards.
Extrinsic motivators, on the other hand, are excellent for simple cognitive tasks, but are not sufficient to achieve motivation over the long-term. Motivation is necessary only when something (for example, learning new skills) is important for carrying out a specific activity over time.
Intrinsic motivators are far more effective.
For example, providing tools that allow employees to understand how their actions contribute to the success of the team or for the achievement of a corporate objective will be much more effective than money rewards.
To ensure long-term success, you must ensure your employees understand the importance of their work to the company; and also that the company cannot do without them or their unique skills.
The reasons why gamification represents an effective business strategy
New software applications are often viewed suspiciously by employees.
Also, often people don’t like using them. Employees use them only because their role requires them to do so, and not because they want to.
Conversely, what people love is playing, learning and feeling fulfilled.
In order to make you understand the weight that computers and video games currently exert, here are some data:
- Half a billion people spend at least 1 hour a day playing computer games and video games;
- On average, the world’s population spend three billion hours a week playing online ;
- 5 million players in the United States spend more than 40 hours a week playing – the equivalent of a full-time job.
Since most games are nothing more than interactive software, how do they manage to attract so many people?
The answer is simple: they are fun and engaging. They are also able to give players a continuous sense of satisfaction.
Can the same result be achieved by business software and other applications?
The answer is yes. More and more studies show that gamification can achieve a higher adoption rate of software and applications, as well as greater involvement.
Gaming dynamics obtain better results in terms of teamwork and collaboration; they also encourage healthy competition within the company.
Finally, productivity increases because participants tend to:
- Follow the instructions they receive voluntarily, and improve their performance.
- Be motivated to use the features of the application in the most effective way.
- Collaborate more effectively and efficiently with their colleagues.
But don’t turn your business into a game
Gamification exploits gaming mechanics and dynamics that encourage people to achieve certain corporate objectives.
But you need to pay attention: implementing gamification into business processes or into existing business software is not enough. This will ensure failure from the start, and will not lead to positive results.
Rather than trying to implement game mechanics within the existing business software, and hoping that this will increase participants’ commitment, it is important to focus on designing the game dynamics. Success will depend on how you develop and integrate the challenges, level structures and awards.
These should be carefully integrated into the activities you wish to improve and the goals you wish to achieve.
In this way, game dynamics must be transmitted to participants at the right time, in the right way, motivating and rewarding them naturally as they carry out the activities you desire.
Game dynamics must be evaluated, optimised and updated regularly to keep the participants involved and ensure that they comply with the business standards (for example, by improving the accuracy of forecasts, increasing data quality, success rates and company competitiveness, finding strategic information and improving customer satisfaction).
Communication flows must be planned and executed carefully on all channels (e.g. email, social media, videos). For example, you need to think of how you will address your users, what type of content you need in order to maintain engagement and how you will communicate success stories (e.g. the CEO could send emails to winners, videos about rewards could be published on company social channels etc.).
In short, all five of the following elements should be carefully evaluated and planned to ensure success:
- The Enterprise Gamification platform.
- The content you create and share.
- The structure of goals and rewards.
- Continuous monitoring and measurement of results.
How to apply gamification to the sales force
Let’s assume that you have invested in a CRM system, but still think your sales team can be more effective.
Maybe you are aware of having extremely competent people in your team, who have the potential to become the best in their field. What you need to do is to find out how to make them successful and let them express their full potential.
For this reason, many sales managers have started to select and monitor indicators and KPIs related to their sales force. This new approach allows them to maximise the use of business applications and identify the areas in which to intervene, in order to increase the performance of their sales force.
Performance indicators (KPIs) are divided into two main categories: primary indicators and secondary indicators.
Primary indicators are KPIs which pertain to the health of your company.
They are often related to the entire sales process, they refer to the future and provide a forecast of what is likely to happen.
In other words, they are often measurable factors that can predict the future improvement or deterioration in the performance of your business. For example, important KPIs may include:
- % growth in the sales pipeline.
- % growth in new markets.
- The number of new patents.
- The number of new leads and customers from the website.
- The number of single views of the website.
- These indicators are used and exploited because they are closely linked to the core business activities of the company; however, they are not always accurate.
For example, if the percentage of contacts acquired in the sales process is increasing, it could indicate that sales are also increasing. However, if the sales team is unable to convert these contacts into actual sales, the indicator may not reflect an accurate picture of the company’s performance.
Secondary indicators are KPIs that highlight company performance over a given period of time. They are like a snapshot of the business situation.
As in the case of the primary KPIs, they are excellent indicators for evaluating the performance achieved by your company, but they cannot explain the reason why something happens. Examples of secondary indicators may include:
- Annual sales.
- Annual sales growth.
- Gross margin.
- Gross operating margin.
- Net annual revenue.
- Annual net income growth.
The most important element in using any performance indicator, especially those related to sales activities, is the frequency of measurement and analysis.
This means that it will only be possible to achieve a performance improvement, if these factors are analysed with appropriate frequency.
But how can you create more effective KPIs? We have just said that, in order to improve performance, it is necessary to monitor and analyse; but what elements should we be checking?
In order to obtain effective KPIs, it is necessary to motivate the sales force in all activities related to their work. The sales force must follow and abide to certain regulations and procedures. Only if they follow a correct procedure, can they reach an effective, efficient and measurable result.
In this context, gamification is an essential tool. In fact, by reinforcing individuals’ motivation, it can bring an unlimited improvement to the performance of the workforce. As a matter of fact, employees will start interacting spontaneously and freely.
Your sales team will provide you with necessary KPIs to assess the current and expected performance of your business.
By focusing on people’s motivation, Enterprise Gamification fosters the organisational processes which are necessary for monitoring KPIs and performance. As a result, the rates of adoption and engagement will increase exponentially.
Not only do Enterprise Gamification strategies in retail management improve productivity and the involvement of your sales force, they also allow you to obtain other advantages, such as:
- Effective and efficient training, with more engaging and simpler processes.
- Support and monitoring of sales in real time, both in stores and at a company level.
- Coordination of all activities related to visual merchandising in your stores, thus optimising global performance.
- Management of incentive and reward programmes for employees, based on productivity and accountability.
- Monitoring of performance in real time via KPIs and support in implementing timely corrective actions.
- Optimisation and automation of processes between HQ, District Managers, Store Managers and Employees.
- Promotion and maintenance of a proactive employee attitude towards growth, resulting in increased productivity.
How to apply gamification to customer service
Gamification is a powerful tool to help you move from a cost-focused to a customer-focused approach. Research published by NewVoiceMedia and Opinion Matters shows that:
- 71% of customers leave brands because of poor customer service.
- 61% of customers, after leaving a store, go to a competitor’s store.
Statistics like these are the reason why farsighted organisations are changing their approach by shifting their focus from costs to customer support. Companies are seizing the opportunity of providing a differentiated service, which promotes loyalty and encourages potential customers to make a purchase.
Analysing every interaction your customers have with your organisation is an opportunity to create lasting relationships, which will enable you to have more profitable customers.
Here’s how gamification can help you create a competitive advantage through your customer service:
The first step to improving customer service is to identify the successful behaviour and practices adopted by those companies with the best performances. This is the most critical aspect in understanding how to improve your customer care service.
Once you have understood where to introduce gamification and which practices you should implement, it is necessary to determine the frequency of your analysis. This will result in an increase of employees’ performance, relating to the KPIs of customer care activities.
Well-designed gamification software allows you to monitor the activity of your employees in a natural manner. In particular, you can:
- Discover the reasons why you achieve good performance.
- Highlight gaps in service process delivery.
- Identify coaching and training opportunities.
- Predict possible negative consequences in advance.
Gamification solutions allow you to learn more about the activities and behaviour which produce the results you want from your company, and they promote lasting improvements.
Once you have understoood the path that leads to successful customer service, you can:
- Provide consistent training to those involved in the customer support process.
- Simplify the challenge of providing effective coaching.
- Increase the performance of your employees.
- Offer consistent customer management across all channels.
In short, by discovering the best practices you can provide a truly consistent and effective education. When training is combined with the incentives offered by gamification strategies, employees will have the motivation and desire to improve in order to obtain better results.
Keeping your employees involved and motivated, while providing your customers with the best service, will allow you to:
- Speed up the resolution of problems.
- Maximise the number of problems solved.
- Facilitate the introduction of better processes and working methods.
- Greatly improve your company’s reputation.
All of which can be considered to be indicators and performance measures that are linked to the excellence of the service and the overall satisfaction of your customers.
Motivation keeps your employees involved, makes success transparent and enables the company to make the most of the competitive nature of individuals and teams. Even customer care activities, which are often considered boring and dull, will become a good opportunity for your employees to show you their value.
Through the use of engaging gaming mechanics, all users will be motivated and encouraged to do their job to the best of their potential.
Involvement and motivation make development, coaching and corporate training easier to follow; essential elements for individual and team success.
The final result will be a customer-centered model, in which the high quality of the service will not depend on complex tools and/or procedures, but simply on the desire of your staff to do their best.
How to apply gamification to human resources
Among other areas of business, you can also apply gamification concepts to Human Resources. This activity is also known as Human Capital Management.
This term includes the functions that build the global strategic management of human capital within the company, from the selection of new candidates to compensation schemes and, finally, to the continuous process of training and qualifications for personnel.
Sometimes it can be challenging to manage human capital along with other aspects of the company, especially when the company is growing and more employees are being hired. However, human capital management (HCM) has seen significant improvements thanks to innovative human capital management solutions and gamification.
Gamification in the recruitment process
The best time to involve and motivate a new employee is as soon as they join the company.
The last thing you want is to make them feel abandoned or disoriented.
In this phase, gamification offers an interesting solution: through learning portals and micro-learning, it is possible to provide new staff with an engaging induction experience and key information on the organisation.
At the end of each phase, users will participate in a game that tests their knowledge about the organisation in a particular field. In other words, it is like an evaluation test at the end of a book’s chapter.
In the end, employees must undertake a final evaluation, designed using gamification techniques.
In this way, the company manages to transmit all the basic information about its philosophy, structure and staff without becoming heavy and extremely boring. Actually, this is a dynamic, innovative and engaging solution.
From the new staff’s point of view, the induction process will make the entry process easier and faster. They will also feel a strong connection to the company thanks to the use of portals or corporate gamification applications.
These tools can be configured as a folder of information about the company, which is shown to employees and collaborators, using a simple and intuitive interface.
Secondly, gamification has made it possible to make boring issues concerning the company’s organisational structure more enjoyable.
By implementing this technique, employees acquire and retain more information about the organisation, compared to traditional learning sessions.
Again, gamification adds an element of variety (each level corresponds to a different game, which maintains the level of involvement), which entertains employees.
It is paramount to apply gamification and an integrated human capital system in all the key areas of Human Resources, such as:
- Tracking candidates – Keeping track of all your candidates, from initial contacts to the bringing on-boarding process, so that recruitment is more efficient and effective.
- Employee placement – a faster recruitment process through the use of new hiring software that helps to improve data accuracy.
- Human Resources Management Solutions – Elimination of manual human resource processes by using a unified human resource management solution, which has a direct focus on people.
- Benefit Administration – Providing employees with some of the best benefit programmes available, while continuing to be in compliance with the regulations, and with a reduced workload.
- Time and attendance monitoring – Checking that your workforce is in compliance with labour laws, while reducing labour costs, with accurate time and attendance monitoring.
- Payroll and tax management – Reducing administrative work by increasing the accuracy of payroll data, following the updated tax rules and ensuring compliance.
- Performance management – Continuous coaching and feedback to employees to achieve corporate objectives and, at the same time, consolidating staff training and qualifications.
Gamification is an effective business strategy: the ultimate proof
Through the use of a gamification platform and software, your team will find new incentives for improving their working methods, and concentrating their energies on achieving goals and for respecting assigned tasks.
Employees in all business areas will also be able to manage their time more efficiently and develop their skills, so that they can organise their activities in a better way.
Enterprise Gamification can be applied to your employees at every level of your business. Here are some tips for a truly effective system:
- Use interactive charts in real time to increase interest and competition in everyday activities.
- Broadcast the latest updates with “breaking news” alerts and create engagement with stimuli, comments and comparisons.
- Include rankings and scores to create a healthy competition.
- Celebrate the results obtained by communicating the winners.
- Encourage behaviour for a proper use of corporate platforms and CRMs by giving points and rewards.
- Update results at least every quarter, preferably more often, to keep commitment high.
In addition to these important benefits, Enterprise Gamification can solve basic problems that can affect different areas of the business, from communication between employees and company departments to performance measurement and corporate reward initiatives.
Communication is one of the main challenges for employees. If an employee does not communicate with a senior or junior colleague, a communication gap is soon created. Furthermore, since most communication takes place when managers are physically distant from their employees, the scope of a communication gap increases.
If you want to solve the communication gap among employees, instant messaging is an excellent way to do it. Weekly meetings, customer calls and even communication jargon can be the objective of Enterprise Gamification strategies aimed at improving communication and generating enthusiasm among employees.
Communication objectives can be effectively managed by using gamification methods. For example, communication objectives can be specified for each employee and their results can be easily measured.
Security, trust and efficiency
Gamification can play a prominent role in measuring productivity and performance. This is due to the fact that employees involve themselves spontaneously and, above all, awards and reward initiatives are completely transparent. Employees can be sure that treatment is impartial, since everything is assessed on the basis of individual scores which can be seen by all participants.
Companies will certainly be able to increase their productivity. As a matter of fact, employees will do their best because they will have more confidence in the way their results are evaluated. Furthermore, the application of Enterprise Gamification strategies will allow employees to engage on an unconscious level and participate in corporate life by feeling professionally and personally fulfilled.
Train and stimulate the culture of the working environment
Employees who live in an other country, due to organisational or managerial reasons, usually find training and identifying with the corporate culture a very challenging process. Gamification can help to involve every employee, in any place, and encourage them to actively participate in the company’s life, and to develop a connection with its values and goals.
Enterprise Gamification: success stories
If you still think that Enterprise Gamification is not that useful for companies, here is our trump card.
Here are some of the most successful cases of companies that have implemented effective Enterprise Gamification strategies, and achieved important goals.
1. U.S. Army – firstly, an interesting example of gamification in action; a promotional/recruitment tool which generated a lot of controversy. The US Armed Forces developed U.S. Army – a simulation game of military life – and used it as a recruitment tool. Candidates interested in registering can download the game for free and test their skills. On the one hand, this has made it possible to capture the attention of a wide audience, while on the other it has made it possible to select suitable candidates for recruitment.
2. NikeFuel – Nike launched a campaign called NikeFuel within its large Nike + community framework. In NikeFuel, users compete with each other during the daily hours they devote to physical activity. An app on their smartphone takes note of all the activities carried out and converts them into points. Needless to say, this was very successful in terms of competition, involvement and sharing.
3. Keas – Keas is a smart employee welfare platform used by many organisations to reduce the costs of group health insurance and to cut the expenses deriving from unnecessary sick leave. In its operation, Keas uses gamification, and allow the employees of client companies to access their personal dashboards. Here they can view their statistics, receive awards for achievements, such as completing tasks or supporting colleagues in reaching their goals.
4. ChoreWars – Although it may sound childish, ChoreWars has proved to be a great tool for increasing motivation in the office, especially for completing trivial tasks that simply need to be performed. ChoreWars is nothing more than a system of points attributed to company tasks. It transforms the division of responsibilities at the office into a game: 30 points for taking a phone call, 50 for selling a product, 100 for solving a problem. Each group of players has to register online, create a shared scoring system and then start the challenge.
We would like to end this article by summarising its content briefly.
Enterprise Gamification is one of the most effective ways for revolutionising your business strategy and for achieving important results.
At first glance, this term could be misunderstood: gamification has nothing to do with ordinary games .
Gartner defines gamification as the use of game mechanics and experienced design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.
Thus, it is clear that Enterprise Gamification has nothing to do with games. It has more to do with company strategy and goals, which can be achieved more effectively through employee motivation and engagement.
This strategy is applied to all areas of a business: from human resources and sales, to customer service.
When they are designed and carried out correctly, Enterprise Gamification initiatives will spontaneously enhance the productivity of all company employees.
As illustrated above, its application method makes it possible to use it in any area of business initiative, allowing companies to:
- Define and map relevant objectives, both for employees and the whole company.
- Stimulate motivation.
- Encourage participation.
- Monitor the achievement of goals.
- Improve the quality and qualifications of their staff.
The common factor of all gamification activities is that they identify, validate and apply the right strategies to make people feel fulfilled.
Considering that the problem of disengagement and low employee confidence in companies is universal, Enterprise Gamification represents one of the most efficient solutions for companies dealing with these challenges and for ensuring the highest levels of productivity.