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Offsite vs on-site employee events? the gamification angle

February 17, 2015 • gal

Employee events – outdoor activities,  group lunches, holiday parties, and corporate events are important to-dos on the HR executive’s list. Their purpose is to motivate employees, encourage peer interaction and improve satisfaction, loyalty, performance and retention. Yet, not all employees feel ecstatic or motivated by paintball, having to reveal their yeast allergy to colleagues over lunch, or consuming egg nog at the must have holiday party.

Nevertheless, research shows that peer interaction positively affects employee engagement. In fact, according the Corporate Executive Board, peer interaction drives employee engagement by 36 percent. Employers are well aware of this – they wouldn’t hold social events to start with.

The interesting question is how offsite parties fare when compared to daily on-the-job interaction? CEB research shows that peer interaction that happens at work is more effective than peer interaction during extracurricular activities. Hence, while meeting for a barbecue at your team leader’s home is nice, interacting with peers at work on a daily basis has a more pronounced effect on boosting engagement and productivity – the “inner work life” that makes employees happy at work (see this link in the Harvard Business Review).

On the job interaction can be driven by gamification. Many people think that gamification is only a way of driving the individual, however it is a very effective tool for driving positive peer interaction and engagement during work hours – through the promotion of positive team interaction. Following are 4 examples of how enterprise gamification can do this

  1. Gamify peer interaction in eLearning and awareness creation

    Take a sales team as an example. If a new product is launched, everyone should know everything about its features, advantages, and differentiation. Why not use elearning gamification – with team-based challenges? Team based competitions shift the focus of elearning and internal product communication to employee interaction and even more importantly, on the job interaction.

  2. Find engagement leaders – use the employee engagement funnel

    An employee engagement funnel is a figurative funnel  through which new, or unengaged, employees pass to become more engaged with the company’s goals and strategic drives. The latter stages of the funnel are based on peer interactions where employees become leaders or ambassadors who share their knowledge and skills with colleagues – making them aware of new offerings and interacting with them. Gamifying activities that consist of leadership in training and teaching others – on the job, both encourages this behavior and rewards it. And it is 100% on the job.

  3. Good deeds gamification

    The problem with using competition-based leaderboards and badges to drive engagement and productivity is that not everyone thrives on competition and therefore, these activities may be counterproductive. In fact, they ignore and alienate the real growth and attempts made by the non-top-performers who are nevertheless performing extremely well. One way to overcome this is to use social gamification to encourage good deeds (helping with on-boarding, sharing materials, engaging with social networks and knowledge management systems). At the heart of this model is earning Karma points. One can use good old fashioned games to do this such as card collection — think kids collecting baseball cards — where employees collect cards for each person they interact with in a certain timeframe and then “fill” an album. Another great way is to use “pat on the back” games, where people are recognized for positive peer interactions.

  4. Gamification as a means of peer communication and recognition

    Since enterprise gamification that uses the right calls to action and communication can influence employee behavior, it is an effective way to nurture peer interaction, drive motivation, and then reward it. This is the secret to achieving a win-win situation — even after the holiday party egg nog episode is all but a distant memory.

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