Innovative managers have traditionally used contests and incentives to motivate employees and eliminate the tedium of performing routine tasks. But now, gamification is becoming widespread as managers and HR leaders use game mechanics and theory to drive behavior by injecting a little fun and a sense of community into non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health management and social change. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.
Employees earn points, badges and awards for meeting training objectives, project benchmarks or achieving individual goals by capitalizing on the basic human behavior need to be recognized and/or rewarded. The idea is to inspire competition and reward employees for changing their behaviors or engaging in routine tasks that often get pushed to the back burner. For example, some social performance metrics rank workers for making team contributions, supporting co-workers or supplying feedback, while contests may reward employees for reducing errors, increasing customer satisfaction rates or up selling products and services.
Technology and social media makes it easy to engage dispersed workers through games. One manager uses a virtual donut eating contest to motivate home-based call center agents while another rewards employees who implement new initiatives or ideas.
The games differ from company to company and culture to culture, but the objective is to ensure the rewards resonate with the specific user group. In other words, while badges and points will motivate some employees they may not work with everyone. But games work because who doesn’t want to have fun and get paid for it?