With less than 30 percent of workers today committed to and satisfied with their work, leaders need to find ways to change their employees’ attitudes and habits. One route runs through non-financial recognition and rewards. Badgeville Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder Kris Duggan suggests that “gamification” not only can help employees to engage with positive behaviors, but can actually get them addicted to habits of excellence.

Badgeville Booth

Badgeville at E2 Conference

Schmidt et al define employee engagement as employees’ “involvement with, commitment to and satisfaction with work.” Gallup recently found that over 70 percent of employees are disengaged. This means that less than 30 percent of your employees care about your customers, their colleagues and the business. (And by the way, the percentage of people who care about you is far far less than that).

Defining Gamification

Gamification, according to Duggan, is “taking techniques that make games engaging and addictive and applying them to things that are not games.” In particular it’s about providing rapid non-financial recognition and rewards to reinforce positive behaviors. As Aristotle put it: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Duggan gave me examples of how Badgeville had “gamified” onboarding, performance management, and services efficiency. The company works with many F1000 businesses to increase social collaboration, learning management, and adoption of all enterprise applications such as Sharepoint, Salesforce.com and IBM Connections.

Applying this to Onboarding

Deloitte had a challenge. They had designed a leadership training curriculum for senior executives that they knew had a positive impact in those that went through it. But there was no structured way to encourage executives to start and complete the program. So Badgeville put a series of gamified elements – badges, leaderboards and status symbols – in place for participating in and completing courses that everyone could see. By doing this, time to certification for participants reduced by 50 percent.

Performance Management

Users of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems face a similar adoption and usage challenge. The harsh reality – 50 percent of all CRM implementations fail. Badgeville implemented a “Big Game Hunter” program for Salesforce to increase usage and engagement with the system. Sales people started out at “Chicken Hunters” and worked their way up to bigger and bigger game statuses, as they utilized more and more of the CRM system’s features. For one customer, compliance increased over 40 percent.

According to Duggan, the magic is in identifying the behaviors to encourage and then setting up rule systems to recognize them. In employee-facing programs, this can be driving collaboration, increasing training and compliance efficiency or improving general productivity across enterprise applications.

Implications for Businesses Today

Policies, procedures and rules are push approaches designed to force people to do what the organization needs. At best, they deliver compliance. Inspiration, enablement and encouragement are pull strategies, making it more enjoyable for people to do what they should. These have the opportunity to develop breakthroughs as people go beyond what is asked to find new ways to pursue their cause. While none of this is a game, why not find ways to dial up rapid rewards and recognition?

3 Steps to Get You There

This is about encouraging BRAVE behaviors.

  1. For each employee, figure out what behaviors have the most impact.
  2. Make sure those employees know what is expected and have the tools, resources and support required to do what they need to do.
  3. Recognize and reward behavioral steps along the way as well as end results.

This is a good example of step 9 of The New Leader’s PlaybookSecure ADEPT People in the Right Roles and Deal with Inevitable Resistance

Make your organization ever more ADEPT by Acquiring, Developing, Encouraging, Planning, and Transitioning talent:

  • Acquire: Recruit, attract, and onboard the right people
  • Develop: Assess and build skills and knowledge
  • Encourage: Direct, support, recognize, and reward
  • Plan: Monitor, assess, plan career moves over time
  • Transition: Migrate to different roles as appropriate