We often receive the question what does good gamification look like, but to me, it should also be about what it feels like. If it feels wrong, then we have missed something. Wrong can make gamification feel childish, manipulative or irrelevant.
To create a good feeling, the user experience and the business process need to be aligned. User motivation is core to making it feel right. To start you need to understand what is perceived as motivational and what isn’t.
For the end-user, the process should feel effortless, in the sense that it fits right in with business as usual and it makes sense in the context. For example, a salesperson entering data into their customer relationship management system to keep their deal information up-to-date could result in a reward because it is behaviour the company wants to reinforce and it still fits within their day-to-day routine of what they ought to be doing. On the flip side asking the person to enter a mini-game to gain more points on a leaderboard without any link to work, would evoke questions on why do I need to do this and around relevance.
Rewarding in line with effort
Balancing rewards is not the easiest task in any gamification design. A few tips may work in your favour, namely, keep them in line with the local currency if they are in point formats, give an early reward to surprise and encourage, but then build serious milestones to work towards. If rewards are too easy to achieve, people will start to feel like their effort is worthless or the rewards are a joke. If you ever had the joy of being part of the guides, earning a reward badge usually came with serious effort and some fanfare when you hit a major one. In work, individuals still appreciate when hard work is recognised. The type of recognition can come in the shape of a personal note, a badge of honour, progression towards unlocking something bigger, etc. The key is that it feels proportionate to the effort you need to take to achieve it.
Smile like fun
A very frequent question we have from senior managers when they are considering introducing gamification is whether their teams will be playing rather than working. My typical answer is a counter question if they ever attended a sports event to talk business such as golf or a cup final or Wimbledon or anything not quite work like. In most cases, the penny then drops that the type of fun we are talking about is not like stand-up comedy or belly laughter, but it feels more like smile like fun and has a serious undertone. If the end-user on occasion puts on a smile as a result of unlocking a new reward or achieving a new milestone or gaining additional superpowers, then you are on the right track.
The biggest feeling I would like to evoke is to encourage a person to achieve more of what they are expected to achieve, whether that is in terms of work productivity or learning or sales performance or simply treating customers to their best ability. Encouragement comes from building moments of reinforcements, pats on the back for jobs well done and gentle nudges that you have all it takes to deliver. Today’s managers don’t always have time to give that individual focus, our systems when used as a work tool can aid in overcoming some of this. I would still say that the best success comes from a joint effort between systems and people. When managers are fully supportive of the gamified approach the results are exponentially higher than when it is just a system on its own.
What are the feelings you would like to see from your gamification efforts?