Gamification: should you be treating your employees like kids?
Maintaining a serious – and often boring – work environment used to be commonplace until organisations realised the benefits of injecting a little fun. Many psychological studies have proven that learning in a fun way is the best way. It not only uses different parts of our brain, but also increases social collaboration and knowledge sharing.
With the plethora of social networks so accessible to all, we have become accustomed to instant reactions and continuous gratification and recognition. For every Facebook post, tweet or Instagram, users expect comments and "likes".
This instant feedback is now used in a corporate world; rewarding colleagues with badges or “liking” a post on a corporate social network. However, there is an unwritten consensus that reactions have to be positive, otherwise we simply do not react at all. When Amazon introduced a feature to enable employees to anonymously post comments and potentially negative criticisms of one another, they caused a massive uproar and negative employer branding.
So, what’s the point? Very clearly, showing a positive attitude and recognition between peers is a wonderful way to acknowledge someone’s contribution to a project, and to the company in general. This has always existed in one form or another. Ten years ago, you’d send an email to that person, copying in his/her manager, to express thanks and gratitude. Today, awarding a social badge follows the same philosophy in a more modern way, as you can choose different badge categories. At Cornerstone for example, we have some serious ones (“Focused on client success”, “dependable”), and some funnier (“cool”, “smart”). I can testify those are all very much used and appreciated!
Beyond the social recognition, this kind of feature can be linked with a form of non-financial reward. If you acknowledge someone’s quality with a badge, or confirm a person’s newly acquired skill following the successful completion of training, you can use this badging system to give access to more premium training content for free, or even some sort of cool swag. I've personally found the things I've been given really quite useful; I’ve received umbrellas, winter gloves adapted to use with a smartphone, a first aid kit to take on holiday. I've appreciated them all!
These may seem like small gestures, and indeed they are not as impactful as a well-deserved promotion or pay rise. However, they help generate good feeling and a positive attitude in the organisation. Also, you're creating a culture of recognition and reward. The impact is high for a very limited investment!