gamification

Photo credit: VFS Digital Design, via Flickr


To motivate employees, organizations in recent years are finding luck by combining play and work. Gamification is the buzzword for this innovative strategy and it’s based on a simple idea: the more you play, the better you work.
Take, for example, what Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota did recently to motivate employees to learn about the company’s health insurance benefits. Instead of sending out a round of memos explaining how insurance works — which, let’s be honest, are typically stashed away unread or simply tossed — the company invited its 3,000 employees to participate in an educational game.
Designed to increase engagement and reduce costs, the interactive online program uses videos, quizzes and games to teach employees about their benefits and how to make more cost-conscious healthcare decisions, according to a recent HealthLeaders Media story. Points, badges and more motivate employees to keep playing — and keep learning.
“Gamification is a great way to educate,” Matt Marek, a vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, told HealthLeaders Media.
Gamification is being used now in almost every facet of employee engagement and motivation, from performance to training to innovation management, but Brian Burke, industry analysis at Gartner Inc., cautions against getting too starry eyed over the trend.
“Gamification is near the peak of Gartner Hype Cycles and like most new trends and technologies, the initial hype surrounding the trend creates unrealistic expectations for success and many poor implementations follow. Like any new trend, gamification will move through the hype cycle from the peak of inflated expectations into the trough of disillusionment,” he wrote in a Forbes piece earlier this year.
Still, when done right, gamification can be effective as it is flashy and fun. Keep these best practices in mind when deciding if gamification is right for your organization.
Stay people-focused. Make it easy for people to share their experience, too. Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota found success with employee engagement by focusing on the people, not the flashiness of the technology. The company’s CEO, Michael Guyette, registered and used the educational program himself to set an example. As employees signed up and talked about it, interest spread naturally.
Think goals, not games. Games are fun, sure, but keep the player and your goals in mind first. “…gamification isn’t about turning everything into a game. It’s about using the best ideas from games, like loyalty programs and behavioral economics, to drive the behavior that businesses are looking for in their employees,” writes CIO editor Rich Hein in an excellent guide to gamification that draws on the expertise of Gabe Zichermann, author of the book “The Gamification Revolution.”
Be interesting. “Content must be ever-changing, interesting and challenging. Not managing content correctly is one of the biggest factors in gamification success. Remember that people get used to processes, and ‘new and shiny’ can quickly become ‘old and boring,'” according a story by Whitney Cook at CFO about avoiding gamification screw-ups.
And maybe this goes without saying, but do have fun! Gamification is serious business, but it’s still a game.
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