3 Potential Uses for Gamification at Your Company

3 Potential Uses for Gamification at Your Company

[Update: Making this post a game!]  Post a comment with one potential use of gamification at your company. Top 3 ideas (those getting the most likes) will be featured in a follow up post – clearly a fast track to extreme fame and fortune – Game On!

A little friendly competition is usually a good thing. It’s a safe bet the promise of a reward has made you strive for something more, and being part of a team working together toward a common goal has made you more engaged in the tasks at hand. And perhaps a desire to improve your current state just needs a little gamification to pull it within your reach.

Gamification is the use of game dynamics to bring about certain behaviors and support goals such as self-improvement, increased productivity or a deeper knowledge within your company. In the area of enterprise social media, gamification can be a powerful tool to engage employees to reach their goals.

Bunchball, a leader in online gamification, published “Gamification 101,” a strong overview of the concept. It’s available for download here. In the report, the authors write:

“The overall goal of gamification is to engage with consumers and get them to participate, share and interact in some activity or community.”

This description is not far off what make enterprise social media so valuable.

Gamification is made up of mechanics and dynamics. Players — employees, customers, etc. — rack up points, clear levels, climb to the top of leaderboards or earn gifts in order to fulfill motivations or desires such as status, achievement, competition or altruism. Some of the world’s most visible brands are embracing it. Starbucks uses gamification through Foursquare to lure and reward customers with offers and badges. The Nike+ product line uses incredibly popular apps and personal goals tools to engage its users to stay fit and buy more.

How can the enterprise get in the game?

Here are three potential uses, based on common business challenges and three scenarios from the Bunchball report:

  1. 1.    Sales people and channel partners can be incented to grow revenues and focus on desired product mixes via competition and challenges. Management has concluded that a lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the company is hindering its overall success. To help address the challenge, a game model that rewards employees for networking internally is established.

Employees earnpoints by interviewing another team member and completing a pop quiz on the person or checking in with the person at a coffee shop. Introduce coworkers to each other for bonus points. For every point earned, the employee is entered into a drawing for a weekend getaway.  As a more passive reward, during play, the employees are learning more about what their coworkers do and sell, integrating that information into their own teams and projects.

The first of two major benefits of this game is that it addresses the common CEO concern of “if we only knew what we know.” Actively sharing knowledge makes companies stronger. A second benefit is that this type of game could reduce the need to seek outside consulting help by finding knowledge resources on the inside. As an additional benefit, the game could also increase employee engagement by setting employees up to become more acquainted with each other as people — not just names on an org chart.

  1. 2.    Employees can be motivated to pursue optional training initiatives that enhance their careers and make them more valuable to the company. Your company knows retention of its most valuable employees must be a top priority. One way to support this challenge is by supporting their ongoing education through an enterprise social media game.

The game provides employees with a series of webinars and podcasts that will support their learning. When they choose to watch or listen, they will post the “top five takeaways” from the webinar/podcast to a team-wide or company-wide enterprise social media channel. The writers of the most interesting, informative or entertaining best-of lists will then be rewarded by showcasing their newfound knowledge on the homepage of the company intranet. This model recognizes the accomplishments of an employee and shares the knowledge with the biggest audience possible.

  1. 3.    Employees can be incented to adopt and stick with healthy lifestyle choices that extend their lives and reduce healthcare costs. Healthcare costs are booming and the future of healthcare is up in the air. Your team has determined that preventive care is the best way to keep your employees healthy and costs down. Therefore, you are integrating a fitness-related game into the business environment.

For the game, you create a series of mapped “walking trails” starting from your location. The trail distance ranges from.25 miles to 3 miles, easily walked during a lunch hour. Each time someone completes a trail, they log their miles into the enterprise social media tool. They earn bonus miles for recruiting additional walkers to join. The person who has earned the most miles on a monthly basis receives a bonus. The person who recruits the most people at the end of the year and the top-mileage person for the end of the year get a bigger bonus.

Healthier employees reduce an employer’s health care costs, thus reducing how much employees pay for heath insurance. And, of course, employees who are feeling well and aren’t spending their days inside a doctor’s office are more productive.

Gamification has a knack for turning business challenges that threaten to alienate employees and engender negative attitudes into child’s play, engaging its players and inspiring positive behaviors.

Is your company ready to get in the game?

Why or why not?