Why Human Resources Gamification Improves Employee Engagement

Human resources gamification creates engagement

Imagine a workplace where your employees effortlessly know which problems to solve and work together to solve those problems, each and every day.

Gamification and human-focused design are relative newcomers in the space of workplace and employee motivation. Yet they have already shown marked increases in employee output, collaboration, and productivity.

You have the chance to improve employee engagement too with human-focused design, but it isn’t easy.

The most common problems

Through human resources Gamfication with attention to human-focused design instead of function-focused design, your firm can create a culture and foster behavior that self-perpetuates into loyalty, engagement, and ultimately your company’s longevity and prosperity.

But there’s usually a problem: employee motivation.

Most work experience designs are usually either too extrinsic and, less often, too intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation isn’t enough

Work is often too focused on extrinsic motivation. People are primed to be in it for the money. Or they are mainly motivated to work at your company because they are afraid to lose that position. You could say there is too much black hat design in the job (the motivation that engages but doesn’t make you feel in control and therefore makes you feel bad about the activity in the long run).

Let’s consider sales roles, often cited as a low-engagement and high-burnout job.

Some salespeople burn out simply because they just don’t believe in what they are selling. But even they do, sales is often an exhausting activity. For example, I would be happy to tell you about Audible, which I use almost daily, but after a while I predict I would tire of telling other people they should use it, too. Should they? Maybe they  shouldn’t.

In addition, lead gathering or even the high stakes of a nuanced sales conversation grow repetitive. Also, sales people have to do with high amounts of rejection and fear of loss (Octalysis Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance). From a list of 100 prospects, maybe only a hand full may be interested, let alone happy, to receive your sales call.

There are just not enough intrinsically motivating aspects in the sales (and other ) job. The creativity involved in listening and problem-solving and negotiation is limited and often not enough to keep the individual motivated. There simply isn’t enough intrinsic motivation to balance the extrinsic nature of such a sales role.

A greater emphasis on white hat, intrinsic design (the design that makes you feel good and in control) can make a big difference here. Create meaning, make space for creativity, an interactive community, or awaken curiosity with surprise design elements all are able to bring harmony to even a plain cold calling sale role.

But it’s not all about intrinsic motivation either

But designing work to be overly intrinsic arguably isn’t sustainable either.

Consider volunteer work. Most volunteers don’t volunteer for more than 100 hours a year. There isn’t enough extrinsic motivation to make them do it: you earn no money, and there are no consequences if you don’t show up for example.

Or consider charitable donations. We can click a button on our smartphones to save lives, but why don’t we do this more? It is because the intrinsic motivation isn’t enough to make us take the this action. As a result, many people automate donations so as to get past the hurdle of finding the inspiration to do what they know they should do.

Harmony between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

When you succeed in creating harmony between extrinsic and intrinsic motivational design, your employees will feel this every day. It will feel just right. Not too intrinsic that they do not work hard to achieve your targets. Not too extrinsic that they start hating their targets.

 

The Octalysis Group designs for such balanced experiences for many companies worldwide. We love to see the feedback when we hear that sales people are finally “being heard”. That it is not only about KPIs, that they start to feel that they do meaningful work with other people. That there is more trust. More autonomy.

Activity Loops Building Toward an Endgame of Loyalty

So far, this all may seem tricky and terminology-heavy. Let me put it simply. While the science of the brain hasn’t been unraveled, we at The Octalysis Group understand how motivation works.  And we have spend many years fine tuning our approach so that we have the tools and understanding to create long term employee engagement in corporations, government organizations as well as start up companies.

The target for any company is to create incentive-driven activity loops that motivate people well into the Endgame of an experience. The End Game is when an employee understands what needs to be done well, has leveled up in his journey. This is where the Veterans in your company reside. And many veterans leave because there is nothing more for them to experience. Their job has become too monotonous and uninspiring.

However if you create a balanced design you will notice that people will choose to stay with your company regardless of what another company offers them. Just like I will probably always stick with Apple no matter what Samsung, Huawei or Google does.

In the case of the slowly burning out salesperson, while we may not be able to change the work itself, we can change the environment.

Does this sound overwhelming?

As I mentioned, experiences are usually either too extrinsic or too intrinsic. At the Octalysis Group, we have a lot of hands-on experience both in diagnosing which parts of an experience have gone awry and also enjoy designing improvements to those experiences. If an experience, for example, is too extrinsic, we could introduce intrinsic motivators like narrative, community, and surprise.

These design changes should come with the experience. Just like developing a game, the design for humans must come in the design itself, not as an afterthought. We understand how to embed these motivational triggers into an employee’s workflow instead of making it stick out like an irritating itch.

Understanding the Core Drives of human behavior is a starting point to analyze the nature of an experience and moving toward the design of something new that works.

What we do, and how we do it

Whether you work with us as a client, advisory, or workshop (great for pitching to senior managers in your organization), we will introduce Octalysis and take a deep dive into your company’s employee engagement design.

To learn how we can assist your firm in creating employee engagement, get in touch with Joris Beerda right now.

Leading Octalysis Expert, International Keynote Speaker, Behavioral Scientist and Managing Director of The Octalysis Group.

Joris‘ career in creating engagement spans almost 20 years, in 4 continents and 17 countries.

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