Though it may sound like it, gamification does not mean putting fun ahead of work. Instead, it’s the process of using rewards, points, incentives, and other concepts taken from games to incentivize and motivate employees.
GameEffective.com writes, “Making work cute or ‘fun’ or ‘game-like’ doesn’t work, but using gamification like a fitness tracker for work works well, changing more than performance and affecting the culture of thinking and talking about employee performance.” The site offers several key elements to help make the most of your gamification efforts.
Real-Time Performance Management
Most companies use some form of performance appraisal. This can be informal—“Great job on X, Bill”—but ideally, there is a formal process with objective and transparent criteria (more on this below). Unfortunately, most companies that have a formal performance management process focus on quarterly or annual appraisals. This makes it difficult for the manager and the employee to tie specific behavior to the performance appraisal. By contrast, gamification focuses on immediate results to more closely align behavior with results.
Objective and Fair
Nobody wants to come out of an evaluation feeling they were treated unfairly or held to a different standard than another employee. The perception of subjectivity or unfairness in an evaluation process can have devastating effects on the effectiveness of that process for both employees and their evaluators. A game’s metrics should treat all employees fairly and objectively. The real-time aspect of gamification evaluation helps ensure subjectivity is kept to a minimum.
Another benefit of a successful gamification program is the transparency it can provide.
This means transparency not only in terms of the metrics and purposes of those metrics and the program in general but also in terms of how coworkers are performing on the same objective and fair measurements. This transparency can help motivate employees—whether they see they need to make improvements to get in line with their peers or if they are encouraged by their success relative to those peers—and it also helps promote a sense of fairness, because they can see everyone is being tracked according to the same transparent metrics.
While transparency is important, that doesn’t mean employees should be rewarded based on their relative performance. The goal is to promote the correct behaviors as opposed to pitting employees against each other.
Gamification is increasingly popular in boosting employee engagement and performance. But keep in mind that gamification is serious business. You must make sure you are designing the objectives, rules, and rewards of the game properly in order to be successful.
Lin Gresing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor for the L&D Daily Advisor.