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Play to win using  gamification to rejig staff engagement 

Jun 03. 2019
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By Nontawat Poomchusri, 
Sharon Chu
Special to The Nation

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It wasn’t that long ago that the Pokemon Go craze brought millions of people to the streets, parks and public spaces in Bangkok and around the world, allowing many adults and children alike to enjoy the outdoors for hours on end while chasing virtual monsters.

By making the whole experience fun and interactive, Nintendo actually got people active, something many might not otherwise have done so willingly. Now, banks, insurers and asset managers are using similar gamification techniques in the business environment in a variety of ways to motivate employees, recruit new workers and strengthen their engagement with the overall corporate culture.

The idea that gaming elements can be useful in the workplace is not new, with sales groups for years making use of leaderboards and other gamification-like mechanisms to foster friendly competition and an increase in revenue. What is new is that more and more workers are familiar with and enjoy gaming on their phones, tablets or laptops. As gaming concepts and terminology gain prominence among young employees, it’s probably not surprising that companies eager to attract, engage, incentivise and retain this new generation of digitally-savvy workers are taking games seriously. 

The unique selling point of gamification is the potential to learn from games, to draw on what makes them so engaging and to apply those principles to achieve concrete outcomes in a business environment. Of course, there are some challenges and issues to consider when deciding whether and how to use gamification in internal processes. Clearly, it’s not a silver bullet for all situations, so you’ll need to define the specific objectives, desired outcomes and metrics to evaluate its success, while also understanding that not everyone will be motivated by the same gaming techniques.

Gamification can certainly be leveraged to embed behaviours that drive a meaningful culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing across any organisation. And that in turn drives productivity, creativity, innovation, professional development, job satisfaction and, most importantly, decreased turnover and increased profitability.

There are many different ways companies can implement gamification creatively. Instead of asking employees to answer an online survey, companies could launch apps with games to combine social with gaming aspects to make it fun and engaging. Instead of making workers go through a series of lengthy videos to learn new compliance requirements, firms could create an online game that would assess the staff’s knowledge and guide them through areas in need of improvement, setting up incentives that would give high scorers recognition and prizes.

Here are three processes that could benefit from gamification, with specific examples:

1. Recruiting. A financial services firm looking for engineering talent for its new mobile lending service could post coding challenges in its banking app as users log in to check their account balance, with particularly high-scoring users receiving an invitation to submit their CVs for tech jobs at the institution. 

Hackathons, where groups of computer programmers and graphic designers get together to collaborate on software projects, could also be a popular way to find new talent with a particular set of skills within a gamified environment. At the end of the pre-determined time for the hackathon, sponsors could offer job interviews or placements to the teams with winning project ideas, while also gaining valuable insight into their skills or how they would perform on the job.

2. Training. Given the increase in cybersecurity threats and data protection issues, an insurance firm wants to make sure its calls centres, which employ a younger workforce handling sensitive information, are aware of the information security policies and guidelines and implement them vigorously. The company could use techniques like classroom games, online games and in-person simulations to keep the audience engaged throughout its revamped “Information Security” programme. One of the games would include an online mission-based quiz game with different levels of progressive difficulty that can be played on both a desktop computer and mobile device.

3. Performance management. Gamification techniques could be very valuable to the whole process of performance management, serving not only to better and more accurately recognise certain achievements and behaviour, but also to build engagement as employees can also recognise their peers in a more public and social way internally. Managers could give an award or badge each time employees complete certain tasks or reach a certain goal, helping to build a timeline of achievements that would then help with the employee feedback process and evaluation at the end of the year.

Gamification of human resources has developed a lot in recent years, but it’s still in its early days. Games and gamification have begun to alter the way HR professionals and employees experience various HR processes. That is certain to grow further in the years ahead with more widespread use of new technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, and increased use of analytics on the data generated from gamification processes.

Nontawat Poomchusri is country managing director and the financial services practice lead for Accenture Thailand.

Sharon Chu is a managing director at Accenture and the greater China talent and organisation practice lead.

 

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