Gamification – Leverage Human Psychology to Improve Business
Gamification is a significant recent trend in business. Managers and owners are exploring the concepts of this surging trend in motivation and engagement and finding creative ways to bring the benefits of gamification to their businesses.
Gamification is the use of game playing and gaming principles (referred to as “game mechanics” or “game dynamics”) to motivate individuals to perform specific activities or achieve particular goals. It becomes incredibly useful in encouraging and amplifying engagement in employees.
Employee Engagement at Work
Engagement is the level of passion, enthusiasm and innovation that an employee brings to their position. It can be hard to quantify or measure, but it’s not usually hard to identify.
Let’s start by understanding what an engaged employee looks like. Say we have two employees that work in similar positions, with similar skillsets. One consistently arrives ten minutes early for work, is clearly happy to be there on most days, and regularly makes suggestions about improving the business processes. The other arrives on time, does only what is required, and is usually anxious to get out the door at the end of the day. Easy to identify which is more engaged.
Why should this worry you personally? Lack of engagement on the part of employees is not a new problem. As a matter of fact, experts estimate that over 70% of transformation initiatives in workplaces fail outright, due to low engagement on the part of the staff. You can implement all the brilliant ideas and plans that you can imagine, but without buy-in from your team, they’re not nearly as likely to succeed. Estimates are that US businesses lose between $450 and $550 billion (yes, with a “b”) annually as the result of low employee engagement.
Engagement = Better Business
A Gallup study shows that companies in the top 25% for employee engagement outperform their competitors in the bottom 25% in a number of critical metrics. For instance:
- 10% higher customer ratings
- 21% higher profitability
- 20% higher productivity
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 24%-59% lower turnover rate
Clearly, your employees’ engagement levels are important. So important, in fact, that HR departments and employers spend a significant amount of time trying to understand what employees want from their jobs, and how to deliver that within the company structure. In the final equation, it seems like you can either spend your time/effort/money figuring out how to engage your employees or spend your time/effort/money compensating for their lack of engagement after the fact.
The other obvious fact is that the potential payoff for re-engaging your employees is significant. Time and effort invested in rekindling that spark may well be worth the trouble. Really, the only question here is “how?” which returns us to our discussion of gamification.
What’s That Got to Do With Game Mechanics?
The creators of apps for our smart phones and computers understand the basic psychological principles of gamification thoroughly, and they make highly effective use of them within their programming. The result is a wildly popular environment in which the users are highly engaged. In fact, many people are so engaged with their digital devices that it raises concerns on the other end of the spectrum! (Watch any teenager for a few minutes to verify this truth.) It is possible to translate these concepts into effective tools in your business and use them to boost engagement with your staff.
The basic concepts at play in game mechanics leverage the motivations and desires that exist in all of us for community, feedback, achievement and reward. Astute business owners can use those same ideas to create programs in their practices that really motivate their employees and the results can be amazing.
Put Gamification to Work In Your Practice
Consider what programs you might institute in your practice that will engage your team in friendly competition and / or personal development. Perhaps you’d like to set up a contest around personal performance in the optical. Choose a metric like average frame price, or percentage of AR sales, and run a short contest for highest marks or most improvement. Incentivize your staff or partners to improve their performance on specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) by offering rewards for hitting certain targets. Rewards do not always need to be physical or costly – simple recognition at your staff meetings or tracking the team’s achievements on a white board in the back office is often sufficient to generate an enthusiastic response. Leader boards are used in sports and in general gaming for a reason – humans are highly motivated by them.
To be effective, your practice gaming challenges should follow these basic guidelines:
- Include an element of competition.
- Make an achievable reward cycle part of the structure;
- Offer opportunities for collaboration or team play;
- Use real- or near-real-time reporting to post and share results and achievements.
Good Tracking Tools Make it Easy
EDGEPro is particularly well-suited to supporting gamification inside an optical practice. Because the software calculates dozens of KPIs, and allows for easy tracking, it is not time-consuming to locate metrics which either need improvement or will lend themselves quickly to a gamification challenge. Regardless of how you choose to track your metrics, it’s important to return those results to your team quickly, reducing the time between achievement and acknowledgement / reward.
Give some thought to bringing your staff engagement levels up with game dynamics. The results could be a game-changer in your business!