12 March 2013

Gamification – an office Xbox or the answer to better internal communications?

AQ magazine is out now and it’s one of the best yet!

Having spent some time in various virtual realities for ‘research purposes’, Steven Worobec, speaks to AQ about its place in the IC world.

Gamification only really took off around 2010 and since then, the geeks of the gaming industry and the marketing buzzword wizards have taken it to a whole new level.

So what is gamification? Previously known as game mechanics, gamification is the use of game, loyalty and economic concepts in order to engage and reward individuals, solve problems and boost learning.

Or to use an alternative definition from Urban Dictionary … “A cynical practice by corporate douches where workers are supposedly motivated to work even harder on menial, pointless tasks by rewarding them with lame titles, meaningless rankings, coupons or a variety of other real-life trash loot.”

However you feel about gamification, the hard truth – regardless of the sceptics (me included) – is that it’s working. And what’s more, it’s gaining momentum.

Doubter think it sounds like a new way to waste time, but supporters claim it can help organisations accelerate digital transformation projects by engaging, rewarding and motivating employees and customers.

Maggie Buggie, Vice President of Digital Transformation at Capgemini Consulting, is one such convert and believes that, “gamification offers a creative and innovative way to foster collaboration and secure engagement around strategic priorities.”

But all that said, what does it mean for the Internal Communications industry?

Towards the end of last year, the internal comms industry started to get bitten by the gamification bug and departments around the country started to ask whether it was right for them – and with good reason. With companies like Accenture, who released an excellent report on their experiences with gamification and Google adopting the technique to drive loyalty and employee engagement, other companies are wanting in.

The idea of gamification does offer us a creative and innovative way to bolster loyalty, foster collaboration and secure engagement and it is not something that should just be seen as a digital led tool but one that could be used offline as well.

But before you jump on the bandwagon ask yourself if it really is the right solution for your organisation. Gamification has been around for a long time and people are only sitting up and paying attention now that it has become a buzzword.

My question is whether gamification is enough to keep employees motivated at work. According to a survey conducted by Social Cast with 6,300 World at Work members [infographic] “There is a fundamental shift occurring in the workplace, and employers are beginning to see that the secret to long-lasting employee performance and satisfaction has more to do with attending to intangible enrichment rather than material rewards.” Although I disagree to an extent and will be keeping my gaming in the comfort of my own home, the evidence is stacking up.

Gamification’s a nice thought and one that I have no doubt will take off in the industry but may fall just as fast when employers fail to commit to the idea or employees simply get bored.

Do you want to read more? AQ magazine is out now and it’s packed with industry insights including first issue blues, social intranets and questions on how involved your CEO should be with your internal communications.

AQ Magazine Gamification