Gamification software is all the rage!
Gamification is a funny word. People come to us looking for gamification, sometimes not having any idea what it is. They have just been asked by leadership to look for a gamification tool. They are looking for gamification as if it is the product, or the end result.
It’s as if they say “go find something our employees can play.” A savvy response might include, “What is the purpose of playing?” You could ask dozens of other questions, like how many people should play, how sophisticated should the games be, how often should they play, should these be complex games that are hard to win? What happens once a game is over?
“Go find something out employees can play” is as vague as “build me a house.” Where? How big? To accommodate who? When will people be there? Is this for you to live in, a summer house, or a rental? Again, you could ask many more questions.
Gamification Software Should Have a Purpose
We have built everything at Snowfly to include gamification principles. Gamification isn’t an end-user software package, rather it’s a set of ideas and principles you put on top of any other software package. Gamification is something that enhances your existing apps.
For example, if you have an onboarding package (or feature within a package), and you want every new hire to go through the onboarding process and fill out the correct forms within 48 hours, you might use gamification principles and features to have more people hit that 48 hours.
If you have a new series of training videos everyone needs to watch in the next two weeks, you might use gamification to motivate and reward people who watch the videos.
I wrote a post titled Speech Analytics With Gamification, talking about how to take a software product (speech analytics) and increase the effectiveness by using gamification ideas and principles.
Get the idea? You can take anything you want your team to do and apply gamification principles!
So you don’t buy gamification for gamification’s sake. Instead, you buy gamification because it will increase the effectiveness of your other programs. Your other programs have a reason (compliance, optimization, efficiency, etc.). Gamification simply magnifies those reasons, and helps you achieve your objectives.
What Does Gamification Software Look Like?
First, I’m sure you already have some principles of gamification in your organization, even without having software drive it. Do you have any type of reward system you track and recognize, such as employee of the month? Any system you have in place that recognizes and motivates employees probably uses gamification principles. These could be highly competitive systems, where there is a winner, or a hierarchy of winners, or it could be non-competitive systems where each person is rewarded and/or recognized regardless of what others have done (for example, everyone gets the prize if they complete the tasks). You might enhance that so that if an entire team finishes the tasks, there’s an added or team prize.
Gamification software looks much like that, but it is automated. You don’t have to wait for someone to tally up the numbers, or post who won what, or who achieved what level. Gamification ideas have been built into, no surprise here, video games for decades. There are scores, unlocking of levels, badges, leader boards, and other things that may help an individual or team feel they are winning. These tools help each person feel an sense of accomplishment (which comes from recognition) for something they did, as well as understand what their next objectives are.
Some people play into gamification very well. The basis of gamification taps into how we think and what we want. It’s based on psychological principles, which is why it can work so well.
You may have heard of badges, recognition, rewards. These are principles of gamification. Different companies approach this differently, but the principles are the same. Think of some of the brilliant ideas in video games that keep people coming back, but in your business applications.
Does Gamification Software Actually Work?
Yes, definitely. And, many times no.
If you implement a gamification system without knowing what the bigger purpose is, or even having a purpose, you’ll likely fail.
If you have meaningless end results (prizes, rewards, etc.), it might be fun for a few weeks, but the excitement of working towards nothing will quickly fade.
If your system is continually tweaked to the point where your team doesn’t know if they’ll actually get rewards because the rules or objectives keep changing, they’ll lose confidence in what you are doing and your program will quickly fail.
If your system is too complex, it will likely fail.
Gamification is great, when it is architected well. But just because you have something gamified doesn’t mean it will be more engaging over time, and give you the results you want. We talk to plenty of people who say “we had this gamification thing a few years ago but it didn’t work. And now our CEO doesn’t want to do anything with gamification because it never works.”
Please, please get on the phone with us. We have had so many conversations with organizations who have had these experiences that we have learned so much about what NOT to do with gamification. We’ve also had experiences with organizations who have architected and implemented a principle-based gamification solution that works over long periods of time (years). Seriously…. we know what works and what doesn’t. And sometimes what you think will work actually might for a bit, but the luster wears off. Your employees move on, and the next time you introduce something that looks cool but is kind of weak, they lose a bit of confidence.
Here’s a quick three minute read on gamification and incentives programs.
Here are blog posts we’ve written about gamification.