In part 1 of this article, I discussed the benefits of incorporating Gamification—the practice of borrowing motivational techniques from games and applying them to the enterprise—into the HR process.
I outlined two of the five rules for what and what not to do when it comes to this endeavor. The first two rules were incremental progress and reputational units. Continue reading for the final three do’s and don’ts of combining Gamification with your company’s HR process.
3. Autonomous Paths
People like feeling like they’re in control of their daily decisions (even if they’re not). The reality of the workplace is that an effective employee needs to be able to take instructions well and show initiative. So how do you retain employees with initiative and still get them to follow processes? The answer is autonomy. People need to feel free to do things their own way. Your employees are unique and your Gamification program should emphasize this.
One of the worst things you can do with Gamification elements is to build a program where everybody earns exactly the same recognition. How often have you been in a situation where a coworker won an award simply because it was ‘their turn’? Not only does properly quantified Gamification take the arbitrariness out of workplace awards, it also solves the problem of sameness. Different people excel in different areas and earn different badges. Enable your employees to choose the routes in which they express their identities: all you need to do is make sure your program is specific enough that not everyone will earn every accomplishment.
As an exercise, work backwards, considering what each individual employee is good at and how you might measure and recognize that talent. Then make those badges available to everyone. You might be surprised by who takes to what.
The greatest obstacle faced by recognition programs is authenticity; so many programs lack a sense of being genuine and employees know it. Gamification is just as much about bringing discipline to management as it is bringing motivation to employees.
By sitting down and mapping behaviors to points and rewards, rules are established. Management is compelled to weigh the relative importance of employee behaviors and agree to a universal policy. This level of consistency is a good start, but it needs more. How are employees treated according to their earned status? Currently, in your company, are bonuses, privileges and even promotions arbitrary? Even if management believes there is a process behind compensation decisions, how transparent is this process and how much of it is based in individual manager opinion? A gamified program is an opportunity to tie real benefits to real metrics. By adding this additional level of commitment, management is compelled to take the program seriously. Nothing makes the employee-employer contract stronger than management buy-in.
5. Content Refresh
Gamification is a program, not a project—it needs periodic management and content updates. Some content stays relevant forever, but what about skills that need upkeep? Should earned status be revoked or expired?
Status that grows stale should never be taken away, instead it should be dated from the beginning. While a ‘Photoshop expert’ is going to feel resentful if he loses his status, a ‘Photoshop CS5 expert’ is going to recognize the need to earn a ‘Photoshop CS6 expert’ status badge when it becomes available.
Even in situations where badges don’t grow less relevant over time, there is a need to continually provide new goals and challenges. And this shouldn’t be difficult—the workplace is always changing, new challenges arise organically—all it takes is an eye for creating new content to keep the program current.
With these five rules in mind, you can approach your next HR challenge with a fresh perspective. Nothing about the business world is simple and Gamification is no different. It’s a powerful tool, but a double-edged sword and a poorly thought-out program can do as much harm as good. Yet, inaction isn’t an option either. The modern workplace is evolving faster than ever and it won’t be long before Gamification is as pervasive as the LMS or CMS.