In the consumer products world, especially with apps and games, gamification is a critical tool to keep users engaged and continuing to use the product.
Gamification techniques also has applications for business tools and processes and can be used in a professional environment to much the same effect: to get people more interested and improve user engagement.
Gamification For Business Definition
Gamification is the process of incentivising peoples’ engagement and activities to drive results with game-like mechanics. In business, gamification can be used to motivate employees to complete activities that drive sales, leads, and more meetings with qualified candidates.
What Is A Gamification Strategy?
A gamification strategy is the process of taking something that already exists – like a software application or online community – and using gaming techniques to motivate consistent participation and longterm engagement.
Gamification in the workplace is not an actual game, instead it focuses on the mechanics of how gaming works. This helps create a simple way for employees to view their own progress and build continued engagement within their company.
As we like to say, in the world of business software like EveryoneSocial, the foundation of success is engagement: how often and how much are our users using our product.
High engagement means success for us and the client.
Some of the same tools and processes we employ to gamify our product can be used in a general business environment as well.
Gamification Strategy For Business
That said, there are pitfalls and going too far with gamification strategies can lead to negative results and impact business objectives. Let’s take a look at what works with using gamification in the workplace vs. what doesn’t.
1. Take the long view
Regardless of who or what you’re trying to gamify, it’s very important that you take the long view.
It’s very easy to get people riled up — and in any group of people — there are going to be those that relish competition and those that do not. One of the chief things to avoid when it comes to gamification in the workplace is going too deep too early.
Make sure that whatever you do is appropriate for the audience and not going to be a one-and-done program.
2. Don’t overemphasize rewards
Thinking that people will only participate in your program if the rewards are big and flashy is a fallacy. The best corporate gamification programs are about the competition itself.
The problem with big rewards are twofold:
- You can’t keep funding big rewards over the long-term (remember the point above about taking the long view?)
- It often creates false incentives (people end up cutting corners and doing things you really don’t want them doing, just for the win).
3. Create a level playing field
When I help my clients gamify their employee advocacy programs, we advocate they share the scoring framework with all of their users.
This helps everyone understand how the game works, what the goal is, and how to succeed.
Of course, gamification in the corporate environment should always be about some larger goal (e.g., driving new leads, opportunities, increasing brand reach, etc.) and having the rules of the game out in the open helps everyone participate, regardless of who ends up winning.
4. Don’t just celebrate the top performer
You’re all winners! No, but seriously, performance should be measured at least in part based on participation.
If 90% of your participants are fully engaged in your program (whatever it is), that’s a huge win, regardless if the top 10% are driving the majority of the results.
Gamification in business is about the team.
Yes, you should reward your very top performer, but be careful to reward your participators as well. If you don’t, you’ll likely see a big drop off in engagement.
5. Come up with creative rewards
Back on the topic of rewards, there’s a pretty clear difference between those that work vs those that don’t.
Prizes and other material rewards that aren’t really connected to your business (e.g., a gift certificate, an iPod, etc.) aren’t that effective. You’re running a competition for professionals inside a corporate environment.
The best gamification rewards I’ve seen are those that are connected with professional recognition and advancement: a Linkedin recommendation from a VP, a shout-out at an all-hands meeting, an invitation to guest blog on the company blog, etc.
Note these rewards are also low/no-cost and really connect the gamification back to the business as a whole, which is very important.
6. Track and report
What’s the saying: if it doesn’t get tracked it doesn’t exist? That certainly goes for gamification programs.
Tracking is important for a number of reasons:
- It helps the participants know where they stand and how to improve
- It helps the program leader understand if the program is actually driving the business goals you set out to
Of course, you can also do these sorts of things by hand, but that gets difficult and time-consuming pretty quickly.
Gamification For Business Conclusion
Hopefully, these points and learnings can help you think about how to better organize and execute your own gamification strategy and programs at your company.
Things are more fun when there’s some competition. However, it’s important to be careful and be measured in your approach.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about gamification for business, or how some of this may apply to something you’re considering for your company, drop me a line. I’d be happy to chat.