The (Employee) Benefits of Integrating Gamification into Your Office

Done correctly, gamification can offer employees an equilibrium of professional advancement, cooperation, and communication, all while emphasizing a company’s core values.

Most HR professionals view low employee engagement through the lens of an industry-wide trend. It can, however, easily be shrunk down to some not-so-shocking factors. Monday mornings, late afternoon ruts, or simply spending too much time on a single project can result in decreased employee engagement. This has many asking the question: How can you combat the unavoidable mundane situations that keep workers disinterested?

Many HR departments are turning to gamification as a means to keep talent invested. In fact, according to a recent Gallop poll, 91 percent of employees say gamification increases productivity and work experience. The overarching science, in which employees are presented with reachable goals and realistic rewards for reaching those goals, has increased in popularity as Millennials have become the majority generation in the workforce. Gamifying your HR program can be the key to long-term employee loyalty among a group notorious for jumping ship.

Integrating these policies is a strategic process and requires careful consideration before implementing. When done well, however, gamification can not only lead to increased employee engagement and motivation, but an overall attractive bottom line.

Level Up Your Strategy

HR departments constantly are striving for innovative ways to help employees reach their professional goals, while keeping in mind their personal needs and desires. At their core, every employee, regardless of position, wants to feel that everything he or she does contributes to the greater good of the company. Some of the most disengaged employees are so because of a perception that their work is meaningless in the scope of the overall business. The solution: visible and tangible milestones that demonstrate the value of their work. Gamification centers on overcoming challenges, and seeing the payoff of doing so. The ultimate goal, for employees, is to knock down enough milestones to achieve some form of reward, be it a promotion, monetary compensation, or access to special benefits.

Applied to administrative processes such as training sessions, educational Webinars, and enrollment, gamification can transform traditionally tedious activities into attractive and engaging tasks. It is important, however, to personalize the system of acknowledgement and reward to the individual environment. Not only does it increase the overall likelihood of success, it highlights an investment on the part of management in their employees, which, in turn, can increase staff loyalty. Just ask companies such as Starbucks and Unilever, which have used gamification methods for training and customer loyalty programs.

The good news, at least for HR, is that while Generation Y might be responsible for the rise in gamification, employees appreciate its effects across all age brackets. That’s why it is key to design a reward and acknowledgement program that caters to all audiences. For example, gamification for older generations might mean the opportunity to earn more work from home days versus the Millennial who would prefer a company-sponsored lunch. This commitment to personalization demonstrates businesses are willing take initiative in creating unity and purpose in the workplace.

Potential for Wider Success

Integrating gamification policies in the workplace does not stop with an employee’s day-to-day operations. Gamification can be applied to any aspect of the business, most importantly to the tedious tasks. Consider, for example, employee benefits. While companies allocate huge budgets to provide the most comprehensive and valuable benefit programs for their employees, the actual process of enrolling often is seen as a chore, making it the prime target for gamification. In addition, gamification can be applied to onboarding strategies to make the process more interactive and enjoyable. Making onboarding more exciting can lead to better training, which ultimately can lead to better employees and a better company.

The advantage of gamifying benefits processes, such as enrolling in retirement or medical programs, is twofold. First, it entices employees to get the most out of their benefits offerings. According to a recent study we conducted among global HR and benefits professionals, 57 percent of those surveyed reported that a significant challenge they face is communicating their benefits offering to their workforce. With the temptation of a game or high score dangling in front of them, employees are encouraged to be more engaged with their program, reducing the amount of times HR hears, “I didn’t know we were offered that.”

Second, it reduces unnecessary spending on the part of the business. The more engaged employees are with their benefits program, the more likely they are to take advantage of it. An organization can spend top dollar on the world’s most advance benefits package—a company with 20,000 employees will typically spend $200 million to $400 million on benefits—but without employee knowledge or engagement, all of that investment goes to waste. In this ideal situation, employees are more aware of their benefits offers and take advantage of them, ultimately saving the business money. After all, the purpose of this spend is to aid the recruitment, retention, and engagement of employees.

Keeping Score

In order to complete the puzzle of gamification, HR must have an analytics foundation in place. Personalization, benefits, and more revolve around HR’s ability to understand employees’ behaviors, skills, and goals. Deciphering employee data from various teams, generations, backgrounds, etc., is a crucial part of a gamification plan. HR has to be able to anticipate what rewards and acknowledgements will resonate with their target employee, and that information lies in the numbers themselves.

Therefore, it is imperative that HR utilizes the right resources to break down and digest employee data into logical conclusions. Doing so will allow organizations to improve end-to-end employee experience, taking into account emerging consumer trends, Millennial expectations, and global workforce mobility. Armed with the right tools, HR can translate raw numbers into each employee’s story. Without that information, gamification is reduced to just another blind attempt to predict what employees might want.

The Long Game

Successfully incorporating gamification into HR processes not a simple task, nor can it be done overnight. It requires strategic implementation to drive results. If done correctly, however, gamification can offer your employees an equilibrium of professional advancement, cooperation, and communication, all while emphasizing your company’s core values.

Since it first emerged, gamification has evolved into sizable influence on the corporate environment. Yet it is still expanding, especially as it pertains to analytics capabilities. As HR departments dig deeper, they will uncover an even more intricate and sophisticated story, ultimately taking gamification to the next level.

Chris Bruce is managing director and co-founder of Thomsons Online Benefits.