An increasing number of companies and organisations have started to notice their employees' gaming interest and are now using gamification to include gaming or competitive elements in their work processes. The idea behind gamification is simple: add a game element to work processes in order to motivate employees, enhance or change behaviours, and aid in education or work training for new employees.
Recent statistics of video game players in the US show that 58% of the population play regularly, that the average age of gamers is 30 years and that 62% of so-called gamers are adults.
Gamification has been tested in several work areas, including the health-care and insurance sectors, and it is most effective when employees are given immediate feedback on their work and when integrated into existing IT systems. In the manufacturing industry, gamification can be used to change risk-taking behaviour and prevent accidents in car factories. Game-based learning processes can help companies make sure that their employees retain important information from their work-related training. Time-based game elements can be used in customer support and customer relations to help companies to increase the number of cases that fulfil time-related phone queue goals, and how quickly phone calls can be resolved.
Gamification has proven to be extremely useful in the retail and grocery market. A good example of this is the integrated gamification solution that Cognizant developed as a pilot project for a large American discount grocery chain. The purpose of incorporating gamification in the checkout counters was both to be able to measure how quickly each employee scanned their items, and to make the work task more effective. A symbol showed the checkout employee if the established time-goal for the transaction had been met, and employees could then challenge themselves to work quickly and earn points. The test resulted in 30% faster checkout times, and an average time savings of six seconds per transaction. If these results were applied to the retail chain's 8000 stores, the average annual savings from the increased efficiency would be 15 million dollars. After evaluating the pilot test, the majority of the employees were in favour of the gamification process. But even the employees who were not in favour showed a 10% reduction in their transaction times.
Including elements of social competition where employees (both as individuals and in teams) race towards an established goal is expected to be so commonplace that it won't be long until it is regarded as a natural part of the design process for IT systems. But in order for gamification to be effective and reach its intended results, clear goals must be established. Employees must be given direct feedback on their work, and the difficulty levels of game element must match their individual skills.
The most important aspect is that gamification of work elements must be seen as rewarding and socially enriching. This means that gamification gives the best results when employees work together rather than competing against each other. Cognizant's Fantasy Metrics gamification solution, which is inspired by the popular Internet-based statistical game Fantasy Football, can be used in order to allow a store's employees to work together as a team against other stores. The solution gives the store manager access to the store's sales results and other key numbers, which can then be easily compared to results from other stores. Weekly status updates of the store's results in comparison with other stores can be used to not only improve team building, but also to identify any training needs for the staff.
By Mohan Kalyan, Executive Vice President for Cognizant's Emerging Business Accelerator