Can Gamification really turn traditional drudgery into productive engagement within the enterprise?
In a world where creative and innovative tasks are becoming an increasingly greater part of the world economy, it seems the archaic carrot and stick tools of motivation used throughout the Industrial Revolution are un-evolved tactics that fail to truly engage the modern day individual. Perhaps one of the biggest indicators of a lagging workforce culture can be seen in how the U.S. loses nearly $370 BILLION annually due to disengaged employees according to a Gallop Poll.
With such staggering disengagement and worker dissatisfaction, I can’t help but wonder… what if I could harness that zen-like focus I get when I’m fully immersed in a video game for twelve hours straight onto my real-life work instead?
Well, it turns out a hoard of start-ups and large corporations have also caught a whiff of what’s cooking and have started to build gamification applications and programs which have turned into a $100 million industry overnight that is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2016. Although there are many successful gamification examples that have cleverly incorporated game mechanics such as leaderboards, badges, and progress bars to provide real-time feedback and increased engagement, you have to wonder how in the world could you possibly make the most mundane tasks intrinsically motivating.
Despite the huge risk that 80% of current gamified processes may fail by 2014 due to employers simply replacing one extrinsic reward (money) for another (badges), there are actually quite a few enterprise gamification successes that have spawned from carefully applying game mechanics to fit the unique needs of each organization. As you’ll soon see, even the most mundane tasks can be successfully gamified to increase engagement. It’s time to take back that $370 billion and make a dent in our national deficit.
Enterprise Gamification Example #1: Salesforce with Nitro/Bunchball
If you have ever worked in any sales related role ranging from door to door soliciting or the dreaded cold call, you know firsthand how demotivating a multitude of rejections can be. Although thick skin and a narrowed focus on the prize can get you through the day, in the end it’s team competitions, leaderboards, and rewards that have typically had the most success in motivating sales forces.
While I’m not particularly excited about these extrinsic rewards and believe that there’s a lot more intrinsic tactics that we have not fully tapped into yet, I do agree that providing real-time feedback and visibility into tasks is a first step. Remember how in the Disney animation Monsters Inc., Sullivan and Randall had a competitive rivalry to be on the top of the leaderboard? It was apparent that the tracking and real-time feedback significantly affected the monsters’ behavior in speed and focus on the job.
Salesforce Motivation uses these same proven techniques to replace manual processes with a user-friendly sales application that displays a team leaderboard, a progress bar, and a featured challenge that can be customized. Team standings display which teams are leading in points and progress bar while the rewards tab offers either real life or virtual goods selected by employees. Moreover, Salesforce Chatter allows for teams to easily exchange info and keep each other updated in a collaborative manner. While many sales jobs have not typically screamed of intrinsic motivation, let’s face it, we all have to sell every day in some shape or form. Now with this tool, sales teams can get a steady diet of real-time feedback to keep them gunning on achieving their short and long-term sales goals.
Enterprise Gamification Example #2: Badgeville with Yammer
What do you get when you combine one of the largest gamification companies with one of the leading social media plug-ins? Yammerville… I made that up but in all seriousness, Badgeville has become a dominant force in enterprise gamification with over 150 major deployments with major companies such as Deloitte, Samsung, Dell, and my own company Accenture. Similar to Salesforce Motivation, Badgeville provides an out of the box SaaS service that has many customizable options for companies to configure any type of goal ranging from task related goals such as completing expense reports to learning goals such as leveling up a key industry skill. With the integration of Yammer, companies are able to leverage gamification and social reputation so that when badges are achieved from a goal, these achievements can be published through social media to provide visibility throughout the entire company.
While I personally have never cared too much for posting an accomplishment through social media, I have found myself twiddling on my own Accenture profile and seeing how I can complete certification trainings or volunteer events in order to get the added bonus of a virtual badge. Although badges run the risk of sapping intrinsic motivation and creating gaming/manipulation of the system behavior, I have found that these badges can actually enhance intrinsic motivation, serve as a pseudo resume, and expose me to other skills/interests that I already have a liking towards.
When extrinsic rewards such as badges are paired carefully with a goal that you already have intrinsic motivation for, the effect can be positive. If extrinsic rewards such as prizes or money are large enough that they supersede intrinsic motivation, then all the unintended behaviors I mentioned are likely to occur and the benefits of gamification are lost. Because of this fine line and need for customization, Badgeville has created a gamification framework that can apply to a myriad of companies. Whether this is just a scheme to boost revenues or an effective methodology to improve productivity in enterprise remains to be seen.