Get your game face on: gamification in the workplace

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Is work fun? If not, why not? Think about the value that’s released when staff get behind a new business proposal, initiative or customer relationship - surely it makes sense to make achieving great results great fun?

Think about a sales team. Typically, sales managers want to motivate their teams to make more calls, find more leads and close more business. To motivate their teams they might offer prizes or other inducements, but these typically end up going to the same star performers each time. That’s great for the stars, but incredibly demotivating to the rest of the team, who’ll do less and less for your business until they eventually fade away.

Clearly, new ways to add zest to such tasks are required – ways in which entire teams can be motivated and work made more fun. In an attempt to find ways to achieve this, Microsoft has acquired Incent Games in order to integrate the smaller company’s FantasySalesTeam sales-gamification software into Dynamics CRM.

There’s a common misconception about gamification. That’s the idea that making productivity fun naturally equates to making office environments more competitive.

Bob Stutz, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Dynamics CRM, thinks traditional incentive schemes are flawed because they tend to become dominated by the same top performers, demotivating other team members. FantasySalesTeam has been designed to boost “team collaboration and productivity” to drive business growth.

“Through team-based competition and involvement of non-sales employees (such as managers, service, operations, marketing and finance) employees “draft” teams and become truly invested in each other’s success. Individual and team results become highly visible, driving both competition as well as collaboration and creating positive, impactful cultural change,” Stutz explains on a Microsoft blog.

FantasySalesTeam attempts to incentivize employees by making user experiences more engaging and building psychological alignment between business and personal outcomes, boosting team cooperation and overall results.

“Gamification is often loosely defined, leading to market confusion, inflated expectations and implementation failures,” said Gartner analyst, Brian Burke. Gartner describes gamification as the action of applying game mechanics and game design techniques in order to engage and motivate people to achieve goals. This doesn’t necessarily involve cutthroat competition – it can encourage positive cooperation.

Games across the enterprise

This isn’t merely about achieving sales goals. You can apply these techniques across a variety of real world business scenarios from CRM to staff training and beyond. Gamification can be of particular value to help motivate staff to harness the full potential of new tools as technology transforms and disrupts their working environment.

With an accent on sales, a couple of illustrations help show this:

·        Wireless Zone saw a “176 percent increase in total sales, 35 percent increase in specific product sales and a 9 percent increase in profit in the first month they ran FantasySalesTeam,” according to Microsoft.

·        Datix Inc. claims 71 percent of enterprises see improvement in sales performance when they implement gamification but it isn’t confined to sales, it can impact other business objectives. Datix claims gamification has been shown to help make more mundane business tasks, such as data entry, learning new processes and other monotonous activities more engaging.

·        Yahoo! improved service quality and customer satisfaction by 10 percent in just two weeks, boosting employee engagement and improving morale.

So can gamification help build amazing customer relationships and help convince employees to get on board with new technologies?

Gal Rimon, CEO of enterprise gamification platform Gameffective believes motivating employees by making work fun will foster better work habits, because it uses what is natural in human behavior.

“Gamification uses intrinsic motivation, which is a much stronger driver of long-term engagement. It also uses sophisticated game mechanics and takes a long-term approach to behavioral changes and employee work-habit creation,” he says.

These techniques aren’t confined to employee management and motivation. Think about those customer loyalty points you pick up at your local coffee shop: If you do decide to collect them it seems perfectly natural to take a little joy when you fill up the card, and everyone likes a free coffee from time-to-time. It’s a natural sequence of human reactions to achieving something and is a perfect example of customer-facing gamification.

You can gamify your customer relationships (and improve customer loyalty) with rewards, free products, points. You can even model customer behavior by offering rewards to those using self-service channels when they have a problem, reducing the pressure on support staff.

“When organizational goals are aligned with player goals, the organization achieves its goals as a consequence of players achieving their goals,” Gartner observes.

The most important element to successful engagement through gamification is to identify and recognize what those goals might be.

Take a look at how Orange Business Services can help you build great customer experiences, and read about how we helped support Saudi Arabian Airlines enhance its customer services through digital transformation.

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.