TECH & SCIENCE
IN this brave new world of rapid technology growth, it’s hard for businesses - especially smaller businesses - to keep up with the ever evolving landscape. One great new revolution is quickly superseded by another, and for a business looking to implement a new technology based strategy, it can be bit like the old arcade game Frogger, where you wait safely on the bank, second-guessing yourself as you try to pick that perfect log, at the perfect time, lest you get swept under the water. There are so many apps, so many platforms, so many cloud-based services that ‘revolutionise’ your productivity, but when it comes to actually tailoring and implementing any of these products into your specific business, well, that’s largely left up to you to work out. This, along with lack of employee engagement, are two of the major reasons why 70 percent of business transformation efforts fail, according to Gartner research. A business needs it’s employees to be ‘on board’ a big change, helping to steer and drive it, and the business needs to foster that enthusiasm. One relatively new strategy to engender such enthusiasm is the concept of ‘gamification’. Gamification can come in a variety of forms, but the basic premise is digital motivation through a series of videogame like mechanics - rankings, scores, levels, personal bests, badges. The goal of gamification is not to turn a workplace into a LAN party, replete with PCs loaded with first person shooters, cans of Red Bull, and pizza boxes, but it does utilize strategies well known and perfected by video game developers over the last several decades. Gamification taps into psychology that drives human engagement - the drive to compete, improve, and out-do - and to get instantly rewarded while doing so. But just as any video game developer will can tell you, the success of video games or gamifying a workplace, comes down to research and execution. If done well, gamification can have major benefits - fostering a fun and engaging workplace culture with clearly defined goals and targets. If done poorly, gamification can make a business seem cold, calculative, and overly surveillant. Gamification tends to work best with business that have outputs which are easily measured, such as sales, or units produced per hour, and works less well where performance or success are more arbitrarily measured, such as jobs involving writing, creativity, or counsel. Two great uses for gamification are training and mobility. Rather than simply send out an email detailing new workplace policies or practices, gamifying this process, perhaps via an interactive quiz, can help an employee learn this new information more thoroughly. Moreover, because we increasingly find ourselves in mobile workplaces, rather than stationary work desks, gamification can aid in keeping all employees in the same, ‘digital office space’, with the ability to communicate and collaborate with one another, rather than be entirely separated from the workplace when out of the office. On the other hand, two major potential drawbacks can be workplace stress and the dehumanization factor. Apps tailored to constantly measure employee performance can rapidly cause workplace fatigue and possible resentment, while having computers essentially supervise employees can make workplaces feel clinical and less empathetic. The question then, is finding the right balance of gamification to keep your employees engaged, but not stressed or overwhelmed. Actually, this is a question for almost all digital transformation today—how much tech to infuse, and how much work to keep human.
◆ LEVEL UP: Traversing rapid changes in technology can be a huge challenge for businesses, and keeping employees engaged in these changes can be equally so. One strategy many workplaces are implementing is the concept of ‘gamification’ - driving changes and engagement through interactive apps.