3 ways to Gamify your Workplace

 

It all starts with airport bingo. “What the heck is airport bingo?” you might be asking. Well, that’s the exact same question my wife asked when we had a 2.5 hour layover in a smallish sized airport. We were taking a personal trip and in my haste to obtain the cheapest available fares we ended up with a dreaded layover. Not only that, this particular layover was in some podunk off the beat city with little in the way of amenities. It’s at times like these that my wife can be a bit agitated. I needed to do something and I needed to do it quick. How can I make this boring moment into something enjoyable. That’s when I saw it! A child on a leash. I know that doesn’t seem like an epiphany to you, at most likely seems quite odd. However, seeing this child tethered to his parents struck me as ridiculous and somehow, not totally uncommon.

 

I leaned over to my wife and said “You want to play airport bingo?” I slowly explained that we would both make bingo cards and fill them out together. The first person to get full line of squares wins. Things inside the squares included someone sprinting (like they are trying to make a flight), a ZZ Top length beard, camo on a non-military person, and of course the infamous child on a leash.  

 

We sat for 2 hours playing this game, talking, and generally enjoying our layover. Waiting for our next flight was inevitable. We had to do it, but the way in which we waited was absolutely up to us. We gamified our need to wait.

 

Gamifying is an amazing tactic for conditioning behavior and incientivising the task you want accomplished. Complacency is like a cancer to your organization and it must be fought. Bringing a bit of levity and competition to the tasks that need focus can incite a new sense of vigor and excitement for the work your team is doing. It’s no secret, people would rather be having fun than completing some monotonous task, but what if you could make the task enjoyable? You can easily incentivise the work that needs to be done and the completion of the necessary tasks, all while allowing your team to enjoy their work.

 

I once worked with a large customer support group. They had recently seen a huge slump in customer satisfaction and they wanted a way to get things back on track. After some careful interviews and observations we realized that it wasn’t a customer satisfaction issue. In fact customer dissatisfaction was just a symptom. The real problem was disengaged employees. With this in mind we went about finding ways to incentivise the behaviors the company needed. As it turns out, customers satisfaction started pretty high each week and then declined rapidly as the week wore on. Our conclusion was that employees were much more friendly and helpful early in the week. Later in the week however, they became fatigued and cared less about the resolution to their customer’s issues. In other words, they were recharged over the weekends and started each week fresh, but hated their jobs by Thursday and Friday. We began working together to change the employee experience. The best way to keep them engaged in their efforts for the whole week was to make it more enjoyable. We decided to set up a competition. It would start on Wednesdays of each week and it would carry through Friday. We made it clear that the 2 people that closed the most tickets with ‘problem solved’ over these days would be pitted against each other on Friday afternoon and given a difficult customer problem to find a resolution to. The winner of that one-on-one competition would get their name up on the winners board for the next week and a $15 gift card. The winner’s board was a large visible area that everyone passed walking into work. To sweeten the deal, their manager brilliantly suggested that the person with the most appearances on the winner board each quarter would get an extra day of vacation. Once the rules were set and shared with the team we sat back and watched. Their negative feedback on customer surveys dropped by 40% by the second week!

 

As it turns out, when people enjoy their work, they do a better job. When you add an element of competition and incentivization people are more likely to focus on the necessary tasks. It’s not rocket science. It’s human behavior. If you want people to enjoy what they do and complete even the most menial of tasks you have to gamify their efforts.

 

There are 3 components to gamifying:

  1. Impacts the Business –  It has to be directly influencing the results you want or the completion of certain responsibilities. A game that doesn’t actually help your team achieve the goals of the organization is just a waste of company time. Remember you are trying to encourage them to focus and enjoy the work they are supposed to be doing. The gamification is just the decorations on the tasks that need to be completed.
  2. Enjoyable/Competitive – If your team isn’t having fun then what’s the point? The goal with gamifying a workplace is for people to excited and happy doing the responsibilities in their role. When applied correctly it builds comradery and increases productivity.
  3. Incentivised – Whether it’s a small monetary incentive like a $10 starbucks gift card, a large quarter bonus, better parking spot, or simply having their name put up on a winner’s board people like to receive something for their efforts. “Shouldn’t your employees’ salary be enough for them to stay engaged?” You might be asking.

 

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