Gamification — Applications in the Workplace

There has been much discussion in recent years about the rapid growth of businesses and other organizations using “gamification” or the application of digital game design techniques to non-game contexts.

These techniques are being used across a broad range of applications to achieve a variety of goals.
Human-Focused Design

Yu Kai Chou, who has lectured at Stanford University and in Ted Talks, describes gamification as “Human-Focused Design,” a process to optimize for the human in the system by taking into account feelings, motivations, and engagement. In contrast, most systems are “Function-Focused Design,” designed for the efficiency of the system or to get the job done quickly. The gaming industry is centered on human-focused design because the purpose of the game is to entertain, which requires mastering motivation and engagement. The term gamification refers to the application of these techniques to productive situations beyond pure entertainment.

Increased Sales Productivity

Salespeople are often described as having a competitive nature. Sales managers employ game mechanics to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty with sales teams, which is particularly effective when used with the data analytics, behavioral economics, and metrics of a sales acceleration platform. Contests, competitions, and leaderboards can be constructed around a number of different metrics. Managers can use levels of achievement, goal setting and rewards to drive the sales team’s motivation and engagement with the system, as well as to sustain the team’s engagement with customers and to increase lead conversion.

Hewlett-Packard (“HP”) utilized gamification techniques to engage its resellers of several major product lines through an on-line platform called ”Project Everest.”

Each reseller had a profile with visual representations of avatars climbing the mountain, representing sales achievements, with integrated schemes for rewards. Participating resellers could win prizes such as televisions and tablets. The grand prize for each of the target sales teams was the holiday of a lifetime. The project reportedly achieved a participation rate of 80 percent of resellers. The target goal was a 50 percent increase in revenue growth with the actual result being 56.4 percent.

Training and Education

Organizations have also used game mechanics as effective training and education tools.

By way of example, Astra Zeneca, the large pharmaceutical multinational, used a game based learning solution “Go To Jupiter” to teach employees internally about new medicines.

Agents earned points to reach a “stadium,” representing the official launch of a medicine, where they would answer questions to gain other points and badges to improve their ranking. The goal was to educate agents on the release of new products, check real-time training results, and to enhance team competition and cooperation. The results were that 97 percent of the agents used the solution, most outside of work hours, with 95 percent of users completing each training session.

Employee Recruitment

Price Waterhouse Cooper (“PWC”), the multinational accounting and financial services firm, used gamification techniques to improve employee recruitment in its Hungarian operations.

Job candidates were spending very little time on the conventional PWC career website, and the firm wanted to improve the quality of the applicants. The company launched “Multipoly,” an online game in which job candidates could participate and work in teams to solve business problems of the type that would actually be encountered on the job at PWC. Candidates spent much more time engaged in the game than in visiting the conventional career website. The firm found that those participating in the game were much better prepared for the in-person interview with more knowledge about PWC, its culture and the services it offered, as well as about skills necessary for success. Upon being hired, they had an easier time acclimating to the company environment.

Game mechanics can be applied across a spectrum of real life activities, and to achieve many different types of goals within a business environment. At its core, gamification centers on engaging and motivating people to certain behaviors; and has the capacity to enhance teamwork, build trust among people and encourage creativity.

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