Tag Archives: gamification

To conquer the marketplace, you have to win the hearts and minds of your employees first!

According to a recent Gallup study, spanning over 142 countries, only 13% of the active workforce is engaged at the workplace. Most shockingly, actively disengaged employees outnumber actively engaged employees by a ratio of 2:1. The effects are only all to visible on both micro and macro levels. Chances are, if you turn your head to either side, you will most likely see an actively disengaged member of the workforce. Thus, before starting amazingly expensive and externally focused marketing programs, you might want to look at engaging your own employees at the same time. Little tricks can help, as will be shown later.

Gallup study employee engagement

Source: http://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/164735/state-global-workplace.aspx


Whilst there are numerous reasons for the continuous increase of disengaged employees, such as questionable hiring practices, inadequately trained managers for leadership positions or organisational politics, a common denominator found across many organisations is the focus on extrinsic motivation; or in other words outdated incentivisation structures.


The truth about motivation

The following clip, provides an interesting dive into sources of motivation and how current organisational performance management systems and therefore incentive systems, fail to acknowledge the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

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Source: Daniel Pink, The surprising truth about what really motivates us

If you have made it thus far, you have learned, that it is hard to almost impossible to incentivize creative or intellectual tasks with monetary rewards. In other words the reward structure does not fit the underlying motivational driver.

With the ongoing shift from a labor centric to a knowhow centric workforce, it is inevitable for organisations to change incentive systems to account for the increase in intrinsic stimuli needed.


Workplace Gamification to account for a shift in motivational drivers

To quote Dr. Stuart Brown, “Play is not the opposite of work. Instead, think of play as being at the root of gamification and when done well, people can engage in playful activities and still do business at the same time.” Workplace Gamification combines motivational theory with game techniques and design principles to engage employees in new ways.

About Gamification

Why is it that Angry Birds, a popular smartphone game, has been downloaded over one billion times, thus by almost 100% of the smartphone population with no incentive whatsoever. People seem to find time to play games in all walks of life which, according to Wharton Professor Kevin Werbach, is attributed to their inherent intrinsic motivational force paired with a positive neuro stimulus, also known as fun. Extracting the learning from years of digital game developments lead to the birth of a new practice called gamification, which is applying game mechanics and game design techniques to non-gaming environment, such as the workplace. Some public examples of applied game mechanics are the LinkedIn profile progress bar, which lead to a large increase in user profile completion or widely used loyalty programs, building on status, ranks and points.

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Applied gamification – a supermarket in Austria

I have blogged quite a bit about the topic of gamification and its application to drive user behavior. The use of leveling, scoreboards and ranks has been successfully applied, mostly with intrinsic motivators attached, such as status and public profile display. What I came across recently is however a great example of a gamification in a day to day application with amazing effects. An Austrian based supermarket “Billa” applies gamification scoring to induce an increase in spending.

The amazingness of this example is its easiness, customers spend 100 EUR and get a 10% discount, 200 EUR lead to 15% discount and 400 EUR to 20% discount. Tracking couldn’t be easier, to participate one is asked to use a store savings card and thus plays nicely into the see through customer concept, which makes any ROI calculation a relatively easy task.

Makes me wonder why this hasn’t been applied on a wider scale, particularly in this setting as it seems to heavily affect repurchase behavior and short term loyalty.

applied gamification - receipt


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People spend 9 billion hours on Windows Solitaire… what about your employees?

Some fun theory to start with:

Below’s clip dates back to 2009 proving that with adding fun to dull daily tasks, people’s behaviour can be influenced by introducing play aspects. Whilst this study is inconclusive in nature due to timing and selection bias, the shown increase of people using stairs by 66% vs the escalator suggests still valuable points to take away.

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Critique on the “study” / stunt:

The introduction of the game element fun lead people to change short term behaviour on both an experimental and non-trivial level. The question however remains if the human condition to recognise patterns will lower the fun element in the long term and thus dis-validate the spike in stairs vs. escalator selection. In other words, when will it become boring to take the stairs vs. going back to the elevator? The discount of other external influences, such as presence of cameras, crowd effects and word of mouth add further to the question of validity of said experiment.

Stuff to think about:

Without going further into issues of this experiment, it should trigger thoughts on how a behavioural change can be prolonged (e.g. Skinner’s theorem on operant conditioning) and how, when and or if fun elements as game elements hit a ceiling. In above’s experiment, it is bluntly obvious as any element to prolong sustainable change and induce behavioural change is missing. Once you have walked the stairs 2,3,4 or 5 times, the fun part of doing so and the associated engagement level starts to decrease.

Current application of game elements on real world problems:

A lot can be learned far from the scientific side of behavioural psychology. The application of game elements to non-game environments to induce behavioural change effects has already found wide application in both business models and marketing techniques. On the business model side, Linkedin with its profile progression bar and contribution graphs in groups as premiered the application of game elements, namely progression and levelling. Newer applications include FitBit, Nike+ and many other behavioural change inducing products. Very creative application of game elements can be found in Jay Z’s decoded experience on bing which levered upon virality, social sharing and explorer type behaviour.

The list of applied gamification to market problems is almost endless, yet many industries, such as B2B in general lag fairly behind to acknowledge the advantages of utilising game elements in both internal and external setting. Whoever is better to cite than Kevin Werbach, Wharton School of Business, who taught one of the first courses ever on gamification.

Kevin Werbach on Gamification:

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Current issues in research:

I could probably go on about various game mechanics, their application to reduce intrusive messaging to players and and and but this serves little to no point for one very serious reason. Besides studies on game behaviour online and some Gartner studies predicting a fail of large junks of gamification applications due to design elements, the scientific foundation and relevant research to build a solid foundation on a larger scale is missing. I wonder why research hasn’t caught up with a growing industry and managers acknowledging the application of game elements to real world problems. Question to be answered and researched:

> When will we hit a gamification ceiling and how can this be overcome (e.g. the Zynga fall of FarmVille reveals cycles in game elements)?

> Marketers like advergaming and gamification for external applications, mainly to induce marketing messages on an less intrusive level to consumers. Yet when and how does message aversion develop to the increase in gamified elements in the real world. The same applies to advergames and in-game advertising?

> How can we apply design elements to create sustainable fun elements for prolonged engagement or is the concept of iteration to be internalised?

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