CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

JUNE 2017

GAME CHANGER
Using Gamification to Support Lasting Change

By Vanessa Hammett, Employee Engagement, DC
Liz Swiker, Employee Engagement, DC
You don’t have to look far to find gamification in your daily life. Whether it’s earning points for
recycling, continuing a Snapchat streak, or achieving a Starbucks reward, brands and companies are
tapping into our primitive need for competition and recognition to capture our attention.
Gamification is a trend that has been seeping into the workplace for nearly a decade – consider
Google’s famed in-house currency “Goobles,” SAP’s carpool competition or Deloitte’s eLearning
program.

At Edelman, we’re turning to gamification to tackle a pressing business challenge: engaging
employees in organizational transformations to meet the needs of their customers and an ever-
evolving marketplace. This may come to life through a new strategy, a new organizational structure, a
new operating model or process, or new behaviors – and sometimes, all the above. While
gamification is fun, it has a business purpose and benefit: a study by Aberdeen Group found that firms
incorporating gamification in their contact centers achieved far greater annual revenues compared
to all others (23.8% vs. 6.9%).

In this edition of Connections, we’re building on our previous recommendations with focused learnings
on using gamification to turn dry, complex topics (like a new organizational structure, new product
lifecycle or behaviors) into an interactive experience that allows employees to practice and interact
with elements critical to embedding lasting change:

Reframe your thinking: you’re a gamemaster now.
In traditional employee communications, we tell For a consumer goods company, understanding
employees what they need to know about a the purpose of several new roles in an operating
company transformation. With gamification, we model was a critical takeaway. Accordingly, we
lead employees to find answers on their own and designed probing questions at each stage of the
help them practice the salient points along the game to stimulate thoughtful conversation
way. Start by asking yourself what every around the “why” behind the new roles and
colleague needs to know when they step away responsibilities.
from the exercise – is it the strategy itself, key
According to the CEB, organizations are
performance metrics, behaviors, activities or
experiencing more change and uncertainty
tools? Build these key learnings clearly into your than they did at the peak of the global
program and reinforce them by encouraging financial crisis, and 73% of executives expect
your audience to think critically as they discover that to continue increasing. Therefore, we
them: what’s new, what’s different, what stays must continually work to create and enhance
the same? connections between people and strategy.

© 2017 Edelman
Leave an impression. Do it right: stand up for the resources and
Done right, gamification engages colleagues leadership support you need to get buy-in
personally in the change and creates a for gamification
memorable and energizing experience. Here’s What is standing in the way of making the
how: change successful? Is it colleagues’ time,
leadership consensus, participation, people or
Get rid of PowerPoint.
dollars? Secure the resources you need by asking
Strategies, processes and behaviors can be
yourself and your leadership the cost of not
difficult to grasp when they are just words on a
getting it right. One client fought tooth and nail to
page, presentations or a complex chart. Skip
have five hours of every colleagues’ time to be
traditional presentations altogether and opt
able to deliver the game exercise. Another
instead for cards, a board game or a mobile app
refused to proceed with planning until consensus
that make an abstract process tangible …
was reached by leadership on key elements of a
literally. One of our clients was surprised by how
process change. Still another decided leadership
engaged colleagues were when we used a
needed to be visible by playing the facilitator
board game to explain a complex topic that fell
roles in the game. These conversations were
flat when it was previously introduced in a
difficult, but necessary, to instill the importance of
traditional format. By leveraging gamification,
the effort in the companies’ paths forward.
colleagues not only paid attention but thought
about the possibilities, asked relevant questions
and understood an end-to-end process that was
critical to business success. Gamification is a powerful part of the
communications mix that can help employees
Acknowledge your unique culture embed transformation in their operations and
Use true-to-life scenarios, stories and examples to create lasting change. We’ve learned it can be
make the transformation real, and have others rewarding for employees and for the business: for
validate them. With our consumer goods client, the concepts we’ve developed, our unique
we soft-sounded our game scenarios and approach to gamification resulted in an
examples twice to ensure relevance: first with the employee effectiveness rating of over 90 percent
organization’s top 40 leaders, and then with a across clients. In a world where just breaking
group of cross-functional colleagues. For another through to employees is a challenge, that’s a firm
client who wanted to embed new behaviors in step toward lasting change.
the organization, we turned the mic over to
colleagues and asked them to share examples of
what key behaviors meant and how they could About Us
be demonstrated in their jobs.
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations
Tap into your colleagues’ competitive spirit build engagement and trust to accelerate business
Using a point system can encourage performance. Our global network of employee
participation amongst teams, so long as it is engagement specialists develop engagement strategy;
simple enough to not detract from the overall deploy the tools and processes to deliver it; create the
multimedia channels and content that support it; and
objectives of the game – which, in the context of
design the insight mechanisms to measure it.
change, is far from having winners or losers! For
one client, the competitive spirit was so strong For more information, visit us at ee.edelman.com, follow
that many teams worked ahead because they us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at
were so excited to “solve” the problem. employeeengagement@edelman.com.

© 2017 Edelman. For more information, contact us at employeeengagement@edelman.com.