Game on! One of the fastest growing trends in corporate communications is the use of gamification to engage audiences. If you’re not familiar with the term, gamification is the process of engaging people through game design, loyalty, incentives, and behavioral patterns. In layman’s terms, it means you’re getting your audience to participate in a competition or achievement system.
The Marketing industry has certainly embraced this method, but there are still some internal communicators who haven’t been as quick to hop on board. The key is promoting engagement through rewards, such as points, badges, prizes, and leaderboards . The structure and experience provided are the most important parts, and communication will drive the process.
Before you decide if gamification is right for your organization, there are some principles of the method of which you need to be aware.
Decide On Your Goals
It’s important that you’re clear on what your gamification strategy will accomplish. Engagement is the ultimate goal, but are there additional tangible business results you want to advance via adoption? Do you want people to earn rewards by promoting the brand outside work? Maybe sales or email address collection are your goals. The clearer you can communicate your objectives, the more your audience is engaged and likely to participate.
Establish Specific Actions or Tasks
All games have rules and so should yours. Be clear on the actions your employees have to take in order to earn points, rewards, or status. For instance, should they comment on your intranet articles or accomplish training modules by certain dates? Engagement won’t be achieved if your participants feel like they received unclear instructions and they’ve been robbed of their rightful rewards.
Find the Right Game or Contest
Games vary widely in formats and objectives. It’s important to design your contest that suits your culture and drives appropriate behaviors. When I worked for a health insurance company, we wanted to build a culture in which employees felt like they worked for a health and wellness organization. Thus, when we had companywide contests, they tended to be health-related – who could maintain their weight during the holidays or who could record the most steps (via pedometer) during a particular week or month, for instance. So think about what kind of game that best reflects your organization.
Also determine whether the competition should be individual- or team-oriented. Sometimes people enjoy singular achievement, and sometimes they find inspiration by working with others. So do you want to foster collaboration or self-accomplishment? This should be a factor when choosing your game structure.
Another fun example: When I worked for QVC, the leadership of the company had an organization-wide contest in honor of the 20th anniversary in which the employee who managed to receive the most publicity for wearing a specially designed T-shirt won a substantial prize. The photos and videos submitted showed how engaged and creative people can become when the contest is both fun, and rewarding.
There’s a saying in economics: incentives matter. Rewarding users to engage with a system of enticements motivates them to stay engaged in your organization. You’ll need to think of ways to reward employees when they demonstrate the behaviors you want to achieve. Most people have some level of a competitive spirit. So if you don’t have the budget for anything grand, remember that rewards can be simple and inexpensive. Physical items like pens, organizers, stress balls, as well as traditional prizes like badges, certificates, ribbons can provide enough incentive to get employees in the game. Gift cards are always a great reward, as well. In my experience, a $10 Starbucks card, for example, can result in a very high rate of engagement.
Analyze Your Results
Whether your game-structured campaign worked, it’s important to look at the results and decide what worked and what didn’t. Was the contest the right kind for your organization? Did you make it clear what the employees should do? Were your incentives strong enough?
If it doesn’t work the first time, there’s no need to quit. Just rethink and tweak to get better results the next time. There aren’t a lot of people who don’t enjoy a fun, healthy competition or the chance to win prizes, so keep trying. Analyzing your participation and outcomes is critical to determining next steps. As with any communications campaign, make sure you have a comprehensive plan in place going forward so you can best evaluate an effort’s future success or lack thereof.
Have you had experience in the world of internal gamification? How did it work for you? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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