Gamification in business is still in its early stages. A quick look back in the last few years would tell you that games and business weren’t seen together much.
These days, as businesses seek ways to improve their operations, gamification has been widely considered and adopted as a way to boost employee—and even customer—engagement.
Games, seen as a past-time activity inversely related to productivity, are now used as a device to support success. For businesses, gamification opened a door. Games are effective in training, imparting new knowledge and spreading policy awareness. Games are used to encourage friendly competition that drive employees to do better.
Just how popular has gamification gotten? Google Trends shows gamification queries are increasingly used in searches. Gartner, a leading research firm, has long supported the idea with facts—going as far as saying that Global 1000 organizations are likely using gamification as the primary tool for growth and business transformation since last year.
Gamification in Business: Solving problems
High performing business environments are directly correlated to the level of employee engagement.
Gallup reports companies with a highly engaged workforce perform much better than companies that don’t.
They get 147 percent more in revenue, enjoy 25 percent to 65 percent less turnover, and fill up seats 37 percent more in an everyday basis.
Employee engagement is a major key in business. However, business leaders do not aggressively address this area. Deloitte reports that “while 90 percent of executives understand the importance of employee engagement, fewer than 50 percent understand how to effectively address this issue.”
What makes employees disengaged?
There are many, many factors.
If you’ve been an employee before, you know how real boredom, low productivity, burnout and lack of drive are rampant in any workforce. In call center situations, a disengaged workforce can mean many things: lost revenue, customer churn, inefficiencies in processes, and many more.
Since employee engagement is a real and pressing problem, it demands attention. With how much money is lost and not made when employees are disengaged, new trends and practices are emerging.
Of course, gamification is one of them.
Those who have adopted gamification solutions early on are already experiencing impressive success rates.
That comes to no surprise: gamification is rooted in science—behavioral psychology, to be precise. It revolves around the concepts of motivation, reinforcement, reward and behavior modification.
Gamification is all about boosting employee (or sometimes, even customer) engagement using game mechanics, virtual and real rewards, and recognition that drives desired behaviors from “players”.
Gamification makes information and tools visible to employees so they can make self-directed improvements and tweaks to their performance.
Gamification in the Call Center Context
Call centers are staff-based, operation largely through big production floors and back offices. Gamification is a powerful agent empowerment tool given this situation.
Gamification provides reps, agents and teams with real-time performance data that are more visual representations of key performance indicators (KPIs). Gamification solutions are used for agent motivation—to improve their performance and rank by providing challenges, activities, quests, campaigns and tasks. These levels and activities are designed to boost their performance by allowing them to “level-up”.
With the wide adoption of social media in the workplace, it helps that gamification can also come in a form that comes with social media integration. For enterprise level contact centers, internal social media communities are integrated with gamification solutions. It’s a fun diversion from the ruthless environment that’s associated with sales and CS floors.
Gamification: Recognition, Rewards, and Results
Here’s the deal with gamification: even when employees are playing games, gamification fosters and creates a framework where employee behavior and the things they aspire to contribute to the goals and bottomline of the enterprise.
As an example, agents included in the gamification of the workforce for employee engagement may be increasing their performance to rank better in in-team competitions. This, of course, in turn, contributes to the enterprise. They achieve results on the key metrics, they make their goals, and the business benefits.
Gamification injects competition, fun and even friendly banter into the everyday workflows of call centers.
The “something in it for me” thinking is tapped into.
People are fired up by recognition—and it has a lasting effect. You probably still remember all rewards you’ve gotten in grade school. The stickers, the random compliments.
This attitude towards recognition doesn’t change much in people even as we get older. HR Solutions Inc cites recognition as the key driver of employee engagement.
It’s not surprising that recognition surpasses other ways of motivation, according to the study. Research results cast light on the concept that even as adults, people still want to feel appreciated for a job well done.
It seems simple enough to use this information to drive growth in businesses and keep employees engaged, yet research shows many organizations have been ineffective in using recognition as a tool to drive employee engagement.
According to HR, only 59 percent of employees say their higher-ups let them know when they’ve done a good job.
A balance between what employees give to the enterprise and what they receive is fundamental in sustaining higher productivity that is related to an engaged workforce. Rewards are in the center of this concept.
While many studies over the years have suggested that non-monetary rewards are much more effective than compensation, it’s still undeniable that money matters. It works like this.
When employees feel that they are underpaid given their contributions, their motivation will suffer. When it comes to encouraging employees to improve performance and deliver beyond what the situation requires, the power of compensation and rewards in pushing employees to go that extra mile is present.
In sales organizations, commission and even “draw” setups where agents are allowed to get their projected commission in advance are ways to keep the employees engaged in the business and the work. This way, agents own the KPIs and they strive to reach them.
Gamification of the rewards system has been present in many contact centers. Leaderboards, group quotas, team competition are widespread and effective.
Think about the impact of rewards on engagement. It’s easy to see that organizations should take the road of using rewards, the question is how.
Gamification in Action
Software plays a big role in workforce gamification in call centers. There are also programs that are administered manually, although industries are shying away from this because some employees feel that unfairness got in the way of the games working.
Gamification is new but the widespread and rapid adoption of it in contact centers, especially in sales, have allowed the emergence of best practices.
Here’s a rundown of some things you should include and be doing within your gamification program, and the things you shouldn’t be doing:
- Train all staff how to use gamification software and teach them how to maximize the software to get the most out of it—including rewards
- Use tangible and monetary rewards
- Balance productivity, quality and customer experience.
- Volume-based games in sales situations may not work for the customer but QA can support this
- Apply gamification to as many activities in the sales floor, just ensure that it’s fair
- Follow the gamification system as it’s meant to work
- Refresh and update the gamification type, system and rewards program regularly to keep employees interested in participating
- Get employee feedback
- Give employees equal access to rewards and participation
- Encourage competition so long as it’s friendly
- Underscore the importance of customer satisfaction. Make it the core of your gamification programs
- Enforce a fixed schedule for audit to see how to improve your gamification efforts
- Aside from KPI-based rewards, recognize good behavior as well
- Neglect improving systems
- Using the same method and rewards for years
- Change promises mid-gamification program
- Not communicating system changes
- Allocate work based on tenure
- Encourage negative competition that affects employee morale
- Lose sight of floor goals
- Neglect customer service goals
- Let gamification work on its own
- Give only KPI-based rewards
- Offer unrealistic levels to achieve or rewards that expire
- Expect the staff to know how to best use the software right off the bat
- Treat reps like children battling for rewards that don’t exist
- Encourage high numbers with suffering quality
- Use gamification for only one portion of the floor, excluding other teams
- Encourage agents to check their rankings every hour
Get in the game
Gamification is widely used by standard procedures aren’t well-defined yet.It entails embedding gaming techniques into workforce engagement programs and into the production process. One of the main components is also rewarding employees for participating and reaching goals within the gamification process.
We’ve written about companies that have successfully integrated gamification into their production and process.
It entails embedding gaming techniques into workforce engagement programs and into the production process. A main component is also rewarding employees for participating and reaching goals within the gamification process. We’ve written about companies that have successfully integrated gamification into their production and process.
Since gamification is still in its infancy, it’s best to get on the program early on to reap benefits. Just follow best practices to ensure that you’re on track to getting the benefits it promises.
Now, gamification’s promise of more revenue and growth for businesses is only limited to the implementor’s imagination. I know that in the coming years, gamification will continue to be big and the same reason applies to why many tech companies are developing software that supports and promotes gamification.
Back office situations—for marketing, sales enablement and ops—haven’t been widely mentioned in the same sentence as gamification yet. But the drive of businesses to maximize productivity and have a high-octane workforce will surely push changes to include these departments in gamification programs in the near future.
Gamification is the here and now of employee engagement.
Those who remain undecided will be left out in the dust.
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