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How to use gamification to engage employees

Rich Hein | June 7, 2013
More companies are adopting gamification to improve engagement with both employees and customers. Learn why gamification is an evolution in management practices, how to get started and where career opportunities lie.

Omnicare was experiencing long wait times at its helpdesk. The employees were experienced and knowledgeable about the service. The company wanted to gamify a solution to improve efficiency. It started by adding a leaderboard and showing the reps the board. They also issued cash rewards to employees with the fastest times on the floor.

However, the results weren't what management expected. Immediately wait times increased and employee turnover spiked; people were quitting their jobs and customer satisfaction plummeted. The difference here versus the Target example is that the client didn't think about what was motivating the reps.

These helpdesk employees were high tech and, according to Zichermann, felt like they already had a sense of control over their own life. When Omnicare introduced a scoring system as it did, these employees felt like Big Brother was watching them. "To a Target cashier, it's positive feedback to a high-end helpdesk rep, it's Big Brother," says Zichermann.

So Omnicare iterated and changed the design of the system. Now instead of being all about time and motion, they set up a series of achievements that reps could reach. The reps are given a challenge at the beginning of every shift. For example, a helpdesk support analyst might receive a note like this at the beginning of their shift, "Today find three customers who have a specific problem with billing and help them with billing." As they progress through these series of challenges, they are given short-term rewards that are achievement and recognition oriented (non-cash incentives).

"Time in their waiting queue was halved, customer satisfaction went back up and employee turnover was down. It's a very different design, but with the same core premise and with wildly different results," says Zichermann. The bottom-line is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Ford Motor Company
Bunchball worked with the Ford Motor company in Canada to help add gamification to its learning portals to assist sales and services teams that must become familiar with new car models, financing plans, technologies and options every year.

After testing and implementing the methodology, Ford's learning portal saw a 417 percent increase in use and its younger audiences, in particular, were more engaged, which resulted in better sales and customer satisfaction, according to Paharia.

3 Tips to Help Management Get Started With Gamification

  1. Delegate someone to be the point person for advancing the gamification idea. According to Zichermann, one of the main things folks can do to get started is to find the person who would be the right kind of engagement advocate internally.
  2. Get your point person certified in gamification design. This is an essential step and will provide the basic frameworks to get started.
  3. Identify where the engagement issues are with your employees and/or customers. Using this gamification framework and methodology, the point person can apply this knowledge against whatever engagement issues your company faces.


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