Roll them up! Humans are motivated by points – school ranks, appraisal ratings, share prices, mileage information…everything has a number to it, and entices the human mind to compete more. How else do you explain gaming addiction? Everyone knows it’s just a screen meant to entertain you for a bit. However, that doesn’t explain how closely we monitor our progress through the numbers and rankings. There’s a lot of adrenaline rush when you see the scores improving and a dash of depression when it is worse than your previous best.
And in came gamification. A buzz word a few years ago, before AI and Analytics took the franchise on buzziness 🙂
I think gamification is still relevant as a tool for HR folks and it is much easier now. Like all tools, there is a lot of planning and forethought required before blindly rushing into the game (pun intended).
Let me try to illustrate with an implemented example.
The thought of gamifying rewards and recognition in the organisation where I worked felt appropriate nearly six years ago. However, it took me nearly three years to get the concept accepted. Interestingly the first doubt I had to tackle was that of ‘misuse’. As HR folks we have seen far too many times how a benefit has to be withdrawn due to a few ‘corrupt’ minds. This is very much against the grain of the thought that we have an empowered adult population and they would know what to do best!
You can’t fight doubt or fear with those sorts of arguments – so, I decided to wait. It was sort of clear that the existing mechanism of recognition was failing. This, I could easily highlight using the survey results, exit interview feedbacks and other information. I ‘socialised’ the concept with a few senior managers and leads and employees. Just to get the pulse. Almost all were gung-ho.
Then we got together a small team to brainstorm the concept to the consequence. A lot of the loopholes were thrashed out. I think the consequence element was very important. How will it benefit? What will the points mean at the end? We also needed to be clear on the scope as well as the results: did we cover everything meaningful to be recognised? What were we encouraging as a result of this plan? Did it create any behaviours that would be detrimental to the company culture?
A lot of the answers boiled down to manager maturity. This is one statement we HR folks are always ready with. “If only, our managers did a better job of leading!”, we all love to say. Yet, a lot of manager behaviour is wrong because they are not given guidance or role models on what is right! It of course led to the big realisation that the process would be incomplete without manager’s being given a chance to understand the intent and what to do better at recognition.
From the start it was clear a system, a tech piece, was required to execute this. We started brainstorming the rules by which the logic would work.
All the discussions were recorded and presented in a ppt format for the consumption of senior leaders. The crux of it was that our annual awards would also be selected from the nominations received in the system. Our monthly schemes would also be selected from the nominations here. Recognition of all varieties would get a chance – project contributions, teaming, improvements and customer appreciations – each category had statements and points associated. We gave no choice but to have this system adopted.
And then we began. Every new initiative thrives on two things appeals and reminders. Appeal must push change. Reminders will create momentum.
We got our UI folks to envision the whole. They gave a lot of inputs. And made things a bit more fun and of course created appeal.
We created a space in our monthly meetings to mention this upcoming change. And we announced the name of the initiative on our Annual Day. Effectively, we were giving people a chance to get to know about this change and start the process of getting managers up to speed.
Our first month of roll out saw a total of 1045 points on the system. Nominators got points too. We got teams to see how their team fared on recognising colleagues and managers took it upon themselves to get the word in. Monthly awards were a huge boost, because managers who were on the panel realised quickly how little of a recognition culture they had created in their own teams (worked like a mirror 😊).
As a spin off, some managers started posting the nominations onto their monthly slides, giving it a little more fillip.
The dashboard of the system gave each individual a quick snapshot of their team toppers. And their own points.
As they say, it’s the simple things that matter. The fundamental change that took place was that employees started feeling recognised because they would receive an instant email with their manager on copy once a nomination got approved. And the monthly cut off ensured the recognition was given on time. We added a slide on discussing the process and the benefits in our manager development programmes.
Bi-annually toppers on the league table across the organisation, were also awarded separately.
To all those who are wondering what we named the system: it was called ‘Bonanza’!
To quote a senior manager in the organisation, “Ever since Bonanza was implemented, we haven’t had a single instance of staff grumbling about their colleagues who won the monthly recognition awards. This was rampant before Bonanza started. And that to me was the success factor that mattered most.”
It took just a few months to change the culture of only a few get recognised to ‘I too matter’ and I can say gamification helped achieve that CHANGE.