In an ever-connected online world, where part of our life plays out on social media, real-life and in virtual worlds or communities, generating a feeling of true connection is becoming harder.
But enabling employees to feel a connection with their company and each other is important, it is what makes friendships and relationships work as well as a deeper sense of purpose when it comes to working.
In our projects with remote teams, our task is often to give members a sense of connection. Feeling a sense of connection and community with colleagues and like-minded people is often what helps to keep us motivated and happy in our jobs.
Like in the early days of Facebook, it was built to connect students within their university community. Now becoming more sophisticated with likes, shares, and messaging, social media has helped to create the right tools that can make us feel more connected.
The regular sharing and responding to shares as well as the conversations that they initiate is what strengthens the links. When it comes to real-life connections, it is a multitude of interactions that will cause us to feel part of a group, community or organisation.
Workplaces are an environment of shared experience and community, employees are connected to each other and their jobs via a network of reporting lines to managers which are all in turn led by the CEO or managing director. The common interest within employees of a company is to produce a product or service together and bring in revenue.
The tone and culture of a business or organisation is often aligned to the leader, the way that they treat people and the way that they act. This is then filtered down by the managers to the employees, but all of this alone might not be enough to create a sense of connection.
However in the workplace, employees of a company have different personalities, backgrounds and interests and in the outside world would not choose to be friends. Some might find it hard to find any mutual areas of interest besides work, that is why the role of gamification in creating a sense of connection becomes so important.
Gamification can add value in a membership community or workplace as illustrated by a knowledge or task-based community such as Stack Overflow. Questions are asked and voted on to form a list of ‘top questions’ which have been particularly useful. Members are encouraged to answer questions which then earns them kudos in terms of a specific knowledge field.
This concept could extend to the workplace as a directory on the intranet which matches up skilled employees within an organisation with people who need help. The employee platform could act as a directory of popular questions as well as a list of employees and their credentials. For example, an employee in the marketing department of a large company might need to call upon a member of the software development team for help with HTML.
Peer-to-peer support in a team can take the burden off the manager as employees help each other to solve common problems. This kind of system works well when all parties are matched well in terms of time, availability, feedback styles and levels.
Having a karma system to reward helpful team members can help in encouraging participation and mutual support within teams. It is also an effective way to recognise employees who are going above and beyond to help others which could be good criteria for a promotion.
It is important that such an online karma system is not all ‘work and no play’. As we have mentioned, social contact and relationships are at the core of human connection. As social animals, we humans will naturally want to talk about what was on TV last night, how the weather is and what we did at the weekend.
Having an online space for conversations such as this is an important aspect of creating a connection among employees.
Other activities which encourage social connection could be an online ‘pub quiz’ of questions set by the team on subjects of interest. It enables employees to share their interests and find mutual ties with others. Who knew that Dave was such a fan of Star Wars?
Gamification itself will never replace the personal connection, it is merely the enabler. At the core of a connection, it is always the people.
There are many ways in which gamification can help to create connections between employees. If you are interested in a digital or in-person solution to reinforcing connections among your employees then get in touch for a chat!