The idea of gamification at work is a highly misunderstood one. Leaders and human resources professionals feel that gamification is all about points or leaderboards, or about developing expensive mobile apps. It is NOT! It’s about Motivation Psychology which leads to specific behaviours that ultimately lead to employee engagement and improved company culture.
The definition of work gamification is:
“The Systematic facilitation of helping team members combine measurement, motivational psychology, and basic fun in existing or improved Work Processes or Activities with an objective of fostering desired behaviours and results through human-focused game design” (Source: The Ultimate Guide to Work Gamification by Arthur Carmazzi)
Company culture is not as complicated as expensive consultants would like you to think, there are fundamentals that can be tweaked based on later behavioral psychology studies and group dynamics surveys. The problem is the MOST organizations are applying Outdated strategies and processes based on Outdated information. Which kinda sucks if you have a limited budget and need to see real results.
Company values are also sometimes a barrier, When organizations have conflicting values or too many values… you end up having a strong lack of interest from employees. and when organizations start to apply game mechanics to goals or employee engagement without really understanding the NEW psychology, they often wonder why employee motivation went the wrong way.
So let’s look at why the right process of gamification works and why a culture with gamification provides a competitive edge
PILLAR #1 – REVERSE ENGINEER OBJECTIVES
Users are people and people are emotional so any work gamification and culture strategies must first address the Emotions they are trying to create and nurture those emotions through gamification. To do this You need to reverse engineer your goals.
Most gamification and organizational culture strategies measure results related to goals. This takes too long, especially if we are dealing with projects or annual reviews. We live in a new age where a person is not that patient, we want to see instant feedback, instant messages, instant gratification because of the technology lifestyle most have adopted. So if we are connecting our gamification objectives to employee engagement… what Behaviors will ultimately get employee engagement, and what emotions will be associated with those behaviors. Only then can you identify appropriate game mechanics for a culture gamification initiative.
It easy to measure the “Behaviours” regularly, even daily, to promote the emotions that lead to success. And if those behaviors are consistent, the goals attached to the behaviors will be realized.
PILLAR #2 – RECOGNITION IS NOT THE ONLY GAMIFIED EMOTION REQUIRED
The biggest mistake managers make in designing a work gamification program is believing the “Recognition” is the only emotion required to create employee engagement or improve culture. Recognition, while powerful is not always the primary motivator for everyone.
The emotional drive of achievement, finishing something) is an equally important motivator. While “Achievement” is not necessarily the achievement of BIG or important things and could be as simple as cleaning your desk. The key is completion, the end of a project or task that gives a sense of achievement.
And let’s not forget about the emotion of belonging. The feeling that you are part of a group, team, or tribe.
These are a few of the primary emotional drivers that affect employee behaviours, performance, and company culture.
Any game mechanics need to cater to these other emotional drives plus include the drive for Diversity. This Drive supports the element of FUN. Anything that takes you out of the “normal” state of things create diversity, and as long as it does not violate an emotional drive for security (too much), it will be fun… and when you add other drives like Belonging or Challenge, i.e. going surfing with your friends, it gives even more enjoyment.
PILLAR #3 – ANTICIPATION IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ACHIEVEMENT
When we gamify behaviours, it is important to remember that excitement comes from anticipating a result more than if comes from achieving the result. So our gamification strategies should need to set up to provide consistent and immediate measurements that show progress, or the lack of progress, as we go through our achievement journey.
In a performance measurement plan feedback is key, but most spread the feedback out too far, and our excitement to finish, progress, and achieve dwindles because we are not fed the anticipation of achievement or reward.
The Squadli work gamification app supports this type of instant feedback and makes negative feedback non-confrontational.
PILLAR #4 – RESURRECTION IS REQUIRED
Any online game where you can die will allow resurrection. There is a reason for this. You may suck! Whether it is competency, experience, or even a lack of motivation at the beginning… if you cannot “START AGAIN” you will probably give up. And the is where many work gamification strategies go wrong. people give up because it seems that it’s always the same people who win.
We not only need to restart the game weekly or bi-weekly, but we need to create anticipation elements by creating multiple Levels of Measured Success. So even if someone is not part of the Company Best group, they may be part of the Innovation Best group and have the sense that the next resurrection will allow them to climb the ladder of even more success.
PILLAR #5 – WORK GAMIFICATION REQUIRES AN ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE OF TRUST
While Gamification can support improving trust, the concept of a safe environment is essential to organisational culture success. When people feel they can let go, and be a part of an alternate work universe and play a role, they are more likely to follow through and maintain the diversity. Even those who are “Serious” can loosen up when a majority becomes involved making it even safer.
One of the strategies laid out in the book GAME ON – Reinventing Organizational Culture with Gamification relates to an acceptance and general understanding of the brain’s genetic clarity getting process (Ambiguity Relief). This expands a person’s “Common Sence” and allows more acceptance of different “HOWs” that often lead to being judgmental, confrontational, and reducing trust simply because these other people Obviously are not approaching an issue correctly… according to your own Ambiguity relief process.