August 7, 2012 at 1:49 am #167368
What can you do to motivate employees to reach their objectives? An emerging trend is something called gamification. More and more private sector companies are implementing gamification programs as a way to improve employee productivity, efficiency, performance and engagement.
One of the leading providers of gamification solutions is called Badgeville. I exchanged several email correspondences with the CEO Kris Duggan on how it is being used by such companies as Symantec, Interscope Records, Deloitte and Samsung. Below I list four ways in which these companies are using the product. As you read, think about how gamification could be applied to government.
A good example of gamification that you may be familiar with is Foursquare. Users are “rewarded” with points, badges and other methods of recognition for completing certain tasks. With Badgeville, a similar dynamic is adapted to the world of business. “Competitive game mechanics are key behavior motivators,” writes Badgeville CEO Kris Duggan. “However, there are many gamified examples in the workplace focused on collaboration and highlighting expertise across a peer community.” Along with its main Behavior Platform, Badgeville also has a series of Badgeville Connectors. This allows the gamification and reputation platform to integrate with systems and applications already in place with various business. “These Connectors,” says Duggan, “offer pre-packaged, configurable game mechanics within the existing software experience.”
Use Case #1: Help Desk Gamification
Zendesk is used quite widely as help desk software, but it also be used in tandem with Badgeville to encourage help desk employees to work better, faster, and more effectively. By setting up badges for high customer rating scores or completing a certain number of service calls within a set time period, the employees are recognized and rewarded for their hard work. Support tickets are completely more effectively, reducing the need for follow-up calls.
Use Case #2: Software Developer Collaboration
Even though gamification lends itself to competition, it can also work as an effective motivator for collaboration. Taking the case of software development, different team members need to work together to get the project finished. Badgeville can integrate with Microsoft SharePoint, making it easier to manage shared documents and files. Employees can be rewarded for their contributions, demonstrating who added the most to the software being developed.
Use Case #3: Sales Badges
While standard commissions can be effective in improving the performance of your sales team, using Badgeville with Salesforce can further reward key behaviors beyond the actual finalized sale. The gamification of tasks like tracking opportunities and running reports can ensure that the staff is looking at the whole picture and not just closing the deal. Someone has to do the groundwork and Badgeville can reward those who do.
Use Case #4: The Social Employee
What if you are looking to grow your company’s social media presence? Badgeville can be used for that too. Whether you have an online community powered by Bazaarvoice, Lithium, Jive or any number of other platforms, you are able to monitor activity across all the networks. “If a company wants to surface rewards for behavior within an online community and surface the same user’s reputation score in their CRM system or mobile application, they will easily be able to “port” this reputation across experiences,” writes CEO Kris Duggan.
In what ways do you think gamification could improve government operations?
August 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm #167398
Definitely in any gov’t call center or support operations.
Could even be fun in like contracting, grants, COTR worlds – not fun tasks so maybe badging can incentivize and make a competition
August 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm #167396
@Chris – Would be beneficial to training. I am thinking of the Boy Scouts’ merit badge system in which you trained for a skill or knowledge area and received a merit badge for successfully demonstrating the knowledge/skill. Once you obtain a specified set of merit badges, you would move up to a new level. Find a way to link incentives to badges and you will have an effective system for encouraging training.
August 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm #167394
I like the example from ZenDesk – incentivising work that employees are already doing by adding certain metrics and data that reward them for doing it better. My only problem with the system is that it discourages employees from doing anything they won’t be rewarded for.
But I also think using in gamification in call centers would be a good application.
August 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm #167392
I like the idea of using in the COTR world. Add a little excitement to what can sometimes be mundane paper drills.
August 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm #167390
August 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm #167388
Good point on the potential drawback of such a system. There would need to be a way to manually assign misc. badges so people get credit for going above and beyond.
August 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm #167386
Samuel why do you think it’s a bad thing for employees to only do that for which they are rewarded? Aren’t performance plan critical elements, metrics and measures written to make exactly that happen? For example here at Commerce we exist and are tasked to facilitate international trade so we reward that. We don’t exist and aren’t tasked to cure cancer and we don’t give employees perofrmance awards for doing so because that would undermine faciliating international trade. Of course if you tripped across the curse for cancer we could give you a special act award but that’s not likely to happen.
Isn’t that how we live our lives? For example right now I am on an exercise and eat and strength plan and therefore drink collard smoothies. (They taste good.) However I would prefer to eat french fries but because I won’t be rewarded with optimal health by doing so, I avoid them.
August 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm #167384
Lots of reasons there, Carol. I suspect not everyone is like you (or me, for that matter). I got paid to work for government, and didn’t need any gamified BS rewards. In fact, I would be insulted. Recognition from the boss, you bet, that worked. Little badges, Nah.
There are some problems with extrinsic motivation and rewards, but it’s kind of a long discussion if we wanted to get beyond the superficial aspects.
August 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm #167382
Irony that this post and the post on the badminton scandal were sitting atop each other. So, beware WHAT you reward, and the unexpected consequences of the reward system, no matter how trivial.
Personally, I don’t believe gamification is a good fit for government. It has benefits for for-profit companies. I can think of probably ten reasons why I don’t think it will work sustainably, BUT until I see actual empirical data demonstrating that gamification boosts employee performance in government, I’d have to keep somewhat of an open mind.
But, we’ll never see good, hard data on the topic, so we’re kind of stuck in the my opinion, your opinion state.
August 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm #167380
Robert, nothing wrong with that stance: let the data speak for itself.
August 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm #167378
I hear what you’re saying. In circumstances where the task is very regulated and the desired outcome is very specific, it’s not a bad thing to reward employees for doing that specific task quickly and efficiently.
My hesitation came when thinking about the zendesk example, and rewarding employees for making a certain number of customer service calls within a given period of time. I can envision a situation in which an employee would be so set on making lots of calls that he or she would disregard common phone courtesy, or speak so fast that the call would be unintelligible to the person on the other end. That employee would get rewarded with more “points” for making 25 calls in an hour, but would they potentially have less effect than the employee who made just 15 calls in an hour, but represented the organization well and created stronger ties with the customer?
I think a good manager would have to make sure that the badge system incorporated several different metrics (such as customer approval and engagement) to keep employees from gaming gamification.
August 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm #167376
I think this could be used as a tactic, but, as government, we always seem to want to make it a strategy instead. If your agency has happy, respected, high-performing employees, this could be a fun boost for all.
But many government workers feel unappreciated by management, legislators and the public, haven’t had significant raises in a few years, and work with sub-standard equipment. I’d feel manipulated if I worked in an environment like that and management tried to gamify my work without any tangible extrinsic rewards (like time off or money).
August 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm #167374
Interesting take. I could see how employees might feel slighted if they didn’t feel they were receiving the proper tangible extrinsic rewards and management tried to gamify their work with virtual trophies.
August 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm #167372
Janina R. HarrisonParticipant
I think that my job gets extremely dull and it is so sedentary. Moral is low because of no raises and bad press on gov workers. I would welcome some effort to gamify, put a little fun into the daily routine. Think about the innovation it might spark to get better and better processes to beat the game.
August 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm #167370
I personally agree. If it’s done correctly, it really could jazz-up the day.
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