At Able and How we recognise the fact that organisations need employees to adapt to change, especially during times of economic uncertainty.
According to a study by psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe, ‘business readjustment’ can be a more stressful event than the loss of a close friend, or a child leaving home. Making sure that employees are properly engaged during the change is therefore very important.
There are many ways of doing this, but increasingly, organisations are finding more interactive ways to engage with employees. Adding a fun and social element to change efforts is something that we see as being adopted by organisations more and more in 2012.
‘Gamification’ is said to be the use of game design techniques, to enhance non-game contexts. The main characteristics of Gamification are:
- Quick feedback and recognition
- Ranking users to increase competition
There are obvious benefits to this technique. Quick feedback and recognition for employees working under changing circumstances is generally a good thing. It gives positive reinforcement when people have successfully completed a task, and creates short term wins, which is critical when trying to implement change.
Ranking users and increasing competition also has its benefits. The more recognition employees receive, the more ‘badges’ he or she wins. The more badges received, the higher the rank. The higher the rank, (presumably) other employees will want to join in the ‘game’ and achieve even more short term wins to compete. Essentially, a public ranking system can give social incentives to continue to progress, and in this case, further adapt to change.
However, it can’t all be good news. Gamification also has a few pitfalls which you should be aware of. For the feedback system to be quick, it runs the risk of being too formulaic or one dimensional. For feedback to be effective, it needs to be of good quality, and needs to focus on the relevant areas for each individual. Also, recognition through ‘badges’ or ‘trophies’ needs to be viewed as a means to achieving wider business goals. These are not ends in themselves. The short term wins are just small pieces of a puzzle which make up the overall change program.
Last but by no means least, everyone agrees that there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition. However in times of change, do you really want to display employees on a leaderboard with ‘winners’ and ‘losers’? What does this imply in times of uncertainty? If not done correctly, this part of gamification could even have the opposite effect to the one intended.
All things considered, anything that gets employees to participate actively to change is good. The quick feedback, quick recognition and element of competition, mean that Gamification is one of those techniques that – if designed in a way that takes into consideration the points made above – can be effective.