Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Don't hate the player, hate the game

I came across gamification as a concept fairly recently, and have been giving it a lot of thought. This post will explore my interest and hopefully generate some discussion, even if privately, about its potential use in both housing and HR. 

I can't recall precisely where I came across the concept but immediately I liked gamification. I've dabbled in game playing myself as opposed to being a dedicated gamer, but I have an ultra competitive streak and a bit of an addictive personality so I can see how and why gamification appeals, it's just that I know I could get in over my head on some games and spend more time on them than I need to, so I'm wary. 

But my kids are addicted to things like Candy Crush, Angry Birds and Minecraft, and collaborate online with their friends on more involved games like Call of Duty, FIFA and so on. And even my mum is addicted to Candy Crush and any number of Facebook-hosted games you can mention. It's clear to me that gaming and gamification has wide ranging appeal. 

I've also got quite addicted to the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) in recent years which combines my love of fitness and exercise with a gamification led approach. 

Indeed, the generations who will make up the majority of our future workforce have grown up with online gaming and the concepts of being rewarded for achievements in games whether solo or team based. 

But they are entering organisations, many of whom who are run by people who haven't heard of gamification much less want to embrace it. Even I'm a recent convert in the last 18 months or so. 

Gamification has huge potential benefits to organisations, so it surprised me in my initial research that most examples were based around learning and development. 

I think it has much wider potential than that. Although that's not to decry how good some of the training based gamification is. 

I've seen it myself in GGHT with the GCC. Building in gamification into an activity creates an element of competition, of teamwork and collaboration, of innovation and creativity, helps to embed organisational values and solve problems, engage the staff and build the organisational employer brand, and in this specific case too encourage physical and mental wellness (see About Me for why I'd like this).

So why wouldn't organisations want more of this?

I think it's because the generations who would most readily grasp the idea and implement it aren't sufficiently advanced enough up organisations in sufficient numbers to make a difference. 

Yet. 

But we are growing in number and in influence. 

So far in my research I've seen some good examples of gamification in learning and training. I have seen how some organisations have transformed their induction processes, and other elements of mandatory training like Health and Safety, to make them much more interactive and to engage their staff more.

But training and learning is, for me, only the tip of the iceberg.  Admittedly though I'd only researched its use in housing, but since then I've done more.  Here's a good list of the Top 25 examples of gamification in business.  I like most of these, particularly how the US Army has used gamification in recruitment.  Also notable is no.19 (Bluewolf) using it for employee engagement and brand development.  These though were in a minority - with most examples relating to customers or individual users, and not to employees.

This article discusses more on how organisations can use gamification for their employees, and is a useful read.  And its this that got me thinking of some wider possibilities.

I think organisations can use gamification in a few different ways:

  • Reward and recognition.  If employees can collect trophies and points for doing things (see below) then we can translate these trophies and points into a cash or near cash value which employees can use.  Senior managers could award points and trophies to reward good work.
  • Performance management.    A set amount of points could lead to a pay rise perhaps, and an individuals' score and trophy haul could be discussed in a performance management discussion and provide the base data for that discussion.
  • Collaboration.   Organisations already use Yammer and other internal social networks, but attempts at collaboration on key projects or duties, or just getting involved with other staff by liking or commenting on things could generate points and trophies.  Organisations could link someone's Klout score (if they use it) to Yammer and use that to encourage sharing and collaboration.
  • Delivery of services / job duties.  This does happen in some places, eg look at McDonalds where all their employees have those name badges with the different coloured stars.  I used to sneer at that, but look at the reputation McDonalds have as an employer and a developer of staff.  Its gamification in a pure form and an old one.  But it could be adapted.  What about in customer service or call centres, awarding points or trophies for dealing particularly well with a customer or a call.  Or in a sales role for hitting targets.  And hence the link then to reward and performance management.
  • Recruitment - see US Army example, but think of how that can be translated into effective selection processes in any organisation - testing an individuals' creativity by asking them to build a Minecraft world, or their problem solving or resilience by tackling a tough Candy Crush level, or even insisting on a certain Klout score before being able to apply for a role.  Or testing their teamwork by getting them to play a multiplayer Fifa game.
These are all pipe dreams at the moment, I think, but I'm excited about the possibilities of seeing some of them come to fruition and I am convinced within 10 years we will see all of them.

How have you seen organisations use gamification?  Have you seen some of my examples being done?

What do you think the future holds for gamification?

Till next time...

Gary

PS In other news, wedding date now set for Friday 26 August 2016 in Paphos, Cyprus!