3 ways to use gamification for engagement
Keeping employees engaged is one of the eternal struggles for HR managers, requiring a fine balance of rewards and encouragement.
The rewards are worth it though, with engaged employees contributing much more to the workplace, in terms of productivity, safety and general culture.
Speaking of rewards, these are one of the many ways employees can be kept engaged, with incentives giving them something to aim for. This is taken to another level when features of gamification are used to structure these programs.
1. Get informed
Effective managing at any level is all about being aware of any trends, fads and tricks of the trade currently circulating within your industry or even in others. Those of you keeping up to date may have come across the term ‘gamification’, but what does it mean? And is it actually worth caring about?
According to technology research specialist Gartner, gamification involves using game mechanics and similar experiences to motivate people through mostly digital means. Basically, it means making more things in the workplace fun, in a video game-y sort of way.
By game mechanics, Gartner means features such as leaderboards and points, where employees can compare scores against one another. The aim is to get staff to engage digitally, and encourage the use of technology such as smartphones and other devices in the workplace.
2. Know your audience
This part should be easy for most HR managers, with an intimate knowledge of a team’s inner workings necessary to keeping staff happy at work. Being familiar with your staff’s likes and dislikes, as well as general demographics, should be enough to start implementing gamification processes effectively.
According to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), there are three main behaviours that need to be present in employees if they are to respond to gamification programs:
- There has to be some level of motivation already present.
- Staff must possess the ability and resources necessary to complete the tasks.
- Employees should take action when triggered.
For these programs to be most effective, staff need to possess all three of these attributes, as gamification relies on them to operate. HR managers need to be aware of the triggers that their employees respond to in order to prompt motivation in these programs.
This extends to choosing the reward as well. If suitable incentives are not chosen, employees will not respond.
3. Be clear and concise
Of course, the best rewards program in the world is useless if staff are unable to understand it. This follows on from the above point as well, as knowing how to communicate is just as important as being aware of what motivates them.
This is especially true with concepts such as gamification, which can become complicated if staff aren’t brought up to speed. According to Aon Hewitt, complex rewards programs can negatively affect employee engagement if workers can’t see the benefits of them.
The firm discusses this with what it refers to as ‘total rewards’, meaning all of an employee’s incentives, from base pay to travel rewards. If they can’t tell how they’re going to be rewarded, it’s unlikely they will put the effort in.
“Employees are telling us that nothing about their Total Rewards package stands out,” said Partner and Employee Research Leader Ray Baumruk.
“This lack of differentiation could be damaging to attraction, and many of the least understood programs are also the ones viewed by employees as less competitive.”
According to the IRF, this can be monitored by creating feedback programs that provide information at certain timeframes and scheduling programs accordingly. Long-term projects may require feedback for staff once every quarter to ensure that they do not lose site of the goal.