OCTOBER 2014

SIX STEPS TO GAMIFYI NG EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS
AND ENGAGEMENT

BY TRENT FLOOD, VI CE PRESI DENT, EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

It can sound like a “ka-plunk” or “ding.” But that little sound coming from your phone,
computer or game system is gratifying when it represents a completed level or achievement.
Our obsession with badges and leveling-up demonstrates the power of games, and
companies are noticing. Increasingly, organizations are asking how they can drive further
employee engagement by integrating gaming elements into traditional communication and
business programs. In fact, gamification has gained so much momentum there are now
dedicated certifications and annual events. However, getting started can seem daunting.
Here are six steps to consider when integrating a gamification strategy into a
communications program:

1.) ARTICULATE THE END OBJECTIVES GAMIFICATION WILL
ACCOMPLISH. Before doing anything else, organizations need to
stop and think through what they hope to achieve. Is it improving
customer interactions, driving adoption of a tool or process,
encouraging specific behaviors, addressing a particular point of
employee dissatisfaction, etc.? Designing a gamification strategy
that drives tangible communication and business results
accelerates buy-in and adoption, as people are more likely to take
part when it’s clear their participation will make a real difference.

2.) IDENTIFY SPECIFIC EMPLOYEE ACTIONS OR TASKS TO TARGET FOR INTERVENTION.
Some may think of gamification as simply adding games to existing internal communications
programs (think a mock “Jeopardy” round at a sales meeting or an app-based game on a
mobile device). These can be entertaining and informative, but the most dramatic results
happen by engaging employees while they actually perform their jobs.

Target, for example, introduced a system that rates associates’ speed during the checkout
process. Red indicates too slow, while green equals success, and employees can track their
performance over time and in comparison to teammates’. By incorporating some of the best
elements of gaming – instant feedback, competition and achievement – such systems can

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encourage greater behavior change and awareness than just sending
out an email or memo. Identify the specific tasks, activities or
interactions that, if carried out in a different or more effective
manner, could help achieve your overall objective. That is the
moment to gamify.

3.) FIND THE RIGHT GAME. Strategic communications planning
requires choosing channels that support overall objectives, not
just for the sake of using a particular vehicle or tool. The same is
true for gamification: Games vary widely in formats, storylines and
objectives, so carefully consider a design that drives appropriate behaviors. For instance, if
Target’s objective was to increase interaction between associates and customers, its
gamification strategy would have been inherently flawed. But since the goal was improving
efficiency, the game design drove the right kind of behavior.

In another example, Lockheed Martin wanted employees to become more aware of their role
in protecting company data. Rather than rely on straightforward (and potentially dull)
compliance training, the company created an online “seek and find” game. Employees were
presented with an ongoing and immersive storyline, then asked to find certain objects
related to the subject at hand. For example, employees might find themselves inside a
virtual airport and challenged to find an unfamiliar USB stick or a sign indicating a free Wi-Fi
connection. Upon locating the object, employees experienced a “teachable moment,” where
an explanation of how the object could jeopardize cybersecurity would appear. Thus, the
game design took a traditionally technical subject and made it relatable, engaging and
educational.

4.) REWARD BEHAVIOR. Positive reinforcement is key to encouraging any type of change, so
find ways to immediately reward employees as they demonstrate the behaviors you want to
drive. Rewards don’t need to be expensive; effective solutions can include points that can
be redeemed for prizes or badges that can be displayed in email signatures, in the online
employee directory or on physical ID badges. Think points alone aren’t enough of an
incentive? Remember that people spend hundreds of hours flinging birds at pigs, playing
words on a board and matching brightly colored gems…all for bragging rights. That’s
powerful.


“What key
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What are the
associated
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5.) INSPIRE BOTH COLLABORATION AND COMPETITION. Many
games incorporate elements of teamwork and healthy
competition. This can be a powerful way to unite employees
no matter where they sit in the organization. In one example,
Australian financial services firm AMP hosts an annual
innovation festival where presenters inspire employees to
brainstorm new ideas. To “amp” up the in-person event, a
mobile app with an interactive puzzle encourages employees
to both compete against each other while collaborating on
new ideas that will ultimately drive business results.

6.) LEARN FROM YOUR RESULTS. Even the most thoughtful, well-researched gamification
strategy can produce surprising real-world results. Sometimes the mechanics of a game can
encourage unanticipated (or unintended) behaviors or draw lackluster participation.
Analyzing participation in the game and its impact on real-life behaviors and business
outcomes is critical to determining next steps. As with any comprehensive communications
plan, it’s smart to include measurement into your upfront planning so you can best evaluate
an effort’s future success or lack thereof.

ABOUT US
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations accelerate business performance,
delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trust-
building connections — connecting employees with the company, connecting employees with
each other, and connecting employees with the outside world. We have a global network of
employee engagement specialists who can develop engagement strategy; deploy the tools
and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that support it; and
design the insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us
at ee.edelman.com or follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE.



How do
competition
and teamwork
align with our
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