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Gamification for Business – Recruitment, Management and Promotion

| Posted by Monica Wells Follow 0 Followers on Jan 24, 2015. Estimated reading time: 12 minutes |

One of the recent hot topics in business management is gamification. Even though it might seem to be another fleeting trend, it surely isn't – Gartner predicts the significance of gamification in business practices to rise exponentially by 2020. Even today, we notice the methods of gamification feeding into the mainstream of corporate management, and that's a sign it might become a viable approach to various aspects of business in near future.

Gamification – An Overview

Gamification is the application of game mechanisms and props to non-gaming contexts, such as project management, recruitment, talent sourcing and marketing. A major player in the gamification game is Gartner. This is how the company's vice-president, Brian Burke, summarized the main benefit of gamification applied to business:

When designed correctly, gamification has proven to be very successful in engaging people and motivating them to change behaviors, develop skills or solve problems.

In general, gamification is used to foster engagement and boost motivation – be it in employees or brand customers. In team management, gamification can help to improve productivity or overcome specific challenges. The context of gaming allows companies to source talent, efficiently train employees and motivate workers by granting them game-like rewards such as points, badges, levels or leader boards.

We all know games trigger the competitive nature in humans, which in the context of business drives productivity and provides an incentive for action. To say that gamification is all about competition would be, however, very reductive. The logic of games can also help to foster collaboration between team members and overcome certain communication problems.

Applying Gamification

Every game includes an element of risk. That's why before applying gamification to any area of business, managers should consult with trained coaches or have a specialized company design games for them to achieve defined goals. The application of gamification requires careful handling – if badly designed or poorly conducted, games can have a negative impact on team dynamics and result in team member alienation.

Experts agree that in order for gamification to be a safe practice, the process of progress tracking needs to be transparent, particularly talented employees should be properly recognized and justly awarded, and feedback should always be provided in real-time.

Because of its inherent character, gamification works best in those areas of business that rely most on motivation and engagement – project management, marketing and recruitment.

Project Management

Team managers can benefit from gamification in many ways. The daily reality of every worker is filled with a certain amount of routine tasks that quickly get boring – changing their form to resemble a game provides a method for regaining focus, maintaining a defined process of project development and fostering motivation or engagement among employees.

In the gaming context, workers will know that their accomplishments will be justly recognized through various tangible game props and this awareness proves to be a great incentive for action. The clarity of the process helps a lot as well – set goals are clear to everyone and tracking the progress is easier than ever. This is especially relevant to the generation of Millenials that have been brought up playing interactive games and are eager to extrapolate the logic of games onto other areas of life.

The regained focus on the aims defined in the game also considerably motivates employees to reach them faster. Since the primary goal of gamification is to recognize one's competence, talented workers will be even more determined to complete the project. In short, games help to stimulate our inner motivation by giving out objective rewards for levels achieved in our work – both features of great importance to the quality of project development.

If you're a manager and on the lookout for novel methods to motivate and engage your team, gamification is something to get interested in. Here are some strategies you can apply in order to gamify the basic components of project management:

  • Ascribe points to tasks that need to be completed;
  • Clearly define the rewards given out after completing certain stages of work (badges or stars);
  • Reward players in real-time;
  • In case of repetitive tasks, set up a level system;
  • After players reach a certain level, unlock additional rewards;
  • Recognize the most talented players in a special leader board.

Example – DevHub

DevHub is a local marketing platform that helps web developers from small and mid-sized companies to manage their virtual presence, track the success of their marketing campaigns and analyze business trends. Some tasks provided by the platform were either too complex, boring or unappealing that users would avoid completing them, lowering the overall figure of their completed projects.

As a response, DevHub implemented several game-like features to the platform. Users would, for instance, receive an immediate gaming feedback – badges, which were given as a reward for completing defined tasks. The effects of gamyfying those tasks surprised everyone – the percentage of users who now completed their projects leaped from 10% to a smashing 80%! Badges provided the incentive for work and increased the productivity of users, who didn't lose time procrastinating but focused on getting things done.

Example – Bluewolf

In 2012, Bluewolf launched a gamified Going Social program, the results of which are described in one of the blog posts on the company’s website. Bluewolf applied gamification to various areas of employee activity with one goal in mind: promote internal collaboration by bringing the element of 'social' to the core of business strategy.

First, the organization performed a thorough research and evaluated the current state of internal networking. This allowed game designers to identify the needs of Bluewolf employees in terms of the social aspect of the organization. They've created shareable pack profiles of employees, focusing on knowledge and the social, effectively helping employees to establish their own brands. You can see an example of a pack profile here

The company inspired employees to share their knowledge through gamified activities provided by Bunchball – Bluewolf implemented a special program called Nitro for Salesforce, which would count points and give out rewards to employees for every attempt at internal and external collaboration. Here's how their rewards store looked like. Employees earned points for sharing content on their LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, publishing posts on the company blog, or replying to a Chatter post.

The final step taken by Bluewolf was the creation of a special Going Social portal, which compiled all the resources, tools and guidance (video tutorials, beginners guides and presentations) for the purposes of the program.

As a result, the company noted an improvement in internal communication – visible in the graph presenting the rise of internal Chatter usage. The program also improved employee productivity – best seen in the following infographic released by the company. 

Recruitment

Engaging and sourcing talent are the central tasks of every hiring manager, whose main responsibility is to make sure new employees are skilled, productive and will fit into company's culture. In general, gamification applied to the recruitment process brings two main benefits – it helps to perform the process of candidate elimination faster and allows to test specific skills, which are hard to ascertain in traditional setting – such as creative thinking or driving innovation.

Gamification is a valuable strategy because it has the potential to unearth information about candidates, which in a traditional recruitment setting is inaccessible. By applying game-like features to the hiring process, recruiters can gain insight into the real nature of the candidates – their character, behavior and professional approach, as well as their problem solving capabilities and potential to apply knowledge gained in training.

The integration of games into the recruitment process has another significant advantage – it can be attractive and help in establishing the brand as a leader in its field. Many software developers still remember hiring events, such as Google Code Jam or Facebook Hacker Cup – used by companies mainly to attract talented workers. This is why gamification can be of greatest value to industries that suffer from skills shortage or a really tough competition in finding suitable candidates.

Example – US Army

An interesting, albeit ethically challenging example of games employed in the recruitment process is a computer game developed by the US Army, now serving as their top recruitment tool. Thanks to America's Army, candidates interested in enrolling can test their skills in a realistic setting of a multiplayer strategic shooter game that can be downloaded for free. Fighting alongside three fire teams, candidates can simply check whether they're soldier material.

For the purposes of the game, candidates are asked to fill an online profile with real data, join the Online Army and become a part of a community. During the game, talented players are additionally rewarded with Badges of Honor, which resemble the actual form of recognition given in the American Army.

Even though the game serves as a recruitment tool, a virtual game is only a game and can hardly reflect the real character of combat or one's dexterity and other physical skills required for the right performance. That's why the aim particular gamification strategy is twofold – it also works as a marketing tool, promoting the US Army and consequently increasing the number of recruits.

Example – Xerox

Xerox is known for its application of gamification in employee training. The organization offers several gamified learning programs, which are also integrated with a social network called Yammer. In such a social setting, game-like mechanisms foster employee engagement and motivation, as well as inspire workers to share their knowledge.

The integration with social media is crucial – seeing others completing tasks or levels and getting relevant rewards, such as badges, motivates other employees to work harder and achieve similar levels. Leaderboards published on Yammer can be seen by all players and so inspire them to act and reach a higher position on the board, which is constantly evaluated by everyone involved in the activity.

Xerox included an additional component to its gamified learning process – a comment section that allows players to provide their reasoning behind certain choices they made during the game. Sharing one's rationales with others brings benefits to the whole group – it allows the players to have a look at how others think and decide which solutions can be useful in everyday practice. The benefits brought by gamification in training were tangible enough for Xerox to continue expanding this section of their employee programs.

Marketing

Motivation and engagement are essential parts of a company’s internal structures, but also its relation with the outside world. Over the years many brands have recognized the value of gaming in its potential for stimulating customer interest and engagement. Some brands opt for highly sophisticated apps that have a practical application, others choose to include game-like aspects in a larger context of their marketing campaign.

Example – Autodesk

Autodesk is a recognized software provider for which user trials are of great importance. In order to make them more engaging, Autodesk decided to gamify the components of Undiscovered Territory, a new experience created for trial users of Autodesk 3ds Max. The main goal behind the application of game dynamics was to increase the usage of the software during the trial period and consequently improve the chance of a purchase.

Users would gain access to their profiles with an overview of their missions, information on their rank within the program's leader board, the number of points awarded to them, their badges and a selection of their achievements. The game-like character of the trial version proved effective – the trial version got downloaded by 10% more and trial usage rose by 40%.

Example – M&M's Eye-Spy Pretzel

In 2013, M&M's launched a very successful game based on the eye-spy game logic. The relatively inexpensive, but highly valuable game was situated within the company's marketing campaign promoting M&M's pretzel products. In the game, players were given a large graphic design of M&M's, among which was hidden one small pretzel. The task was to find the hidden pretzel.

This simple game brought tangible benefits to the organization. It effectively fostered user engagement with brand, resulting in over 25,000 new likes on the company’s official Facebook page, as well as more than 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments. A small part of a massive marketing campaign, the game provided a new fun way to engage with the company’s new product and spread the word about it all over social media.

Example – NikeFuel

There are many ways in which one can apply gamification for promotional purposes. Recently, Nike has launched a campaign entitled NikeFuel in which users were to compete against each other in their daily amount of physical activity. A special app would note all the sports performed by users and transcribe it into points. After achieving a certain level, NikeFuel would unlock special trophies and rewards. All this provided a great motivation for Nike's customers – not only to keep doing sports, but also share their results in social media and increase the brand's visibility.

This example demonstrates how gamification can be used by brands to keep their customers engaged and motivate them do repeat various tasks with growing excitement. Gamification can additionally encourage some specific behaviors defined by brands in their campaigns and motivate consumers to performs tasks, which are otherwise difficult to engage with in the traditional marketing setting.

Gamification can be a highly valuable tool for both internal and external purposes, providing a method for spicing up the routine activities of a company, all the while improving team performance and productivity, fostering collaboration between team members, promoting and increasing the visibility of brands and driving innovation in sectors that benefit most from talent sourcing.

To learn more about gamified strategies for enterprise and fully understand how game mechanics can be applied in business, have a look at some of the largest gamification resources, Gamification Wiki provided by Badgeville and Gamification.co. For an in-depth analysis of enterprise gamification, check chapter 9 of a video lecture entitled Gamification by Kevin Werbach, associate professor and gamification specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. 

There are many companies that provide ready-made apps to manage your gamified processes. Before investing in one, be sure to check gamification app comparisons available on the web – here's one from TechnologyAdvice. You can also benefit from countless consultancy companies that will prepare custom-made gamification scenarios for you – for an exhaustive comparison, have a look here. Finally, to keep up with this rapidly developing field, stop by the gamification news column at the Entrepreneur

About the Author

Monica Wells is a Content Marketing Specialist at BizDb. She combines a deep background in Internet Science with intense expertise in New Technologies. She is a seasoned educator lecturing about leveraging the potential of the World Wide Web for professional development.

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Gamification isn't for everyone by M Scott

Gamification is a hot topic - it definitely can work in many specialties/spheres. I have only seen one example of a customer service vendor implement (and stand by their decision of doing so) and that would be Freshdesk. Similarly, there's also been a lot of opposition to gamification in customer service. The argument is that, as a job that's classified "low class" or worse yet, "miserable" as one would see a call center. There was one argument that gamification places a intrinsic reward with an extrinsic one, making the process less motivating. It's something we're heavily considering in our own support software (see it in action here) - but until we get enough votes for it we might just go with regular time tracking. In my opinion, time tracking isn't gamification however. You may let someone know they're 2nd fastest in the list by showing them a table, without any "badge" beside their name...

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