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Make 'National Fun Day at Work' an Everyday Event

For a few years now, the last Friday in January is celebrated as “National Fun Day at Work.” No one seems to know the origins of this event but as a concept, I really like it. But not for just one day. Work should be fun every day. That's where gamification comes in.

By: Gal Rimon, Founder & CEO, Centrical

Make 'National Fun Day at Work' an Everyday Event

For a few years now, the last Friday in January is celebrated as “National Fun Day at Work.” No one seems to know the origins of this event but as a concept, I really like it. But not for just one day. Work should be fun every day.

Developing ways to make work fun is something I’ve dedicated myself to. Actually, I founded a company committed to helping other businesses help their employees perform their best. 

Gallup tells us the majority of workers – Millennials –  aren’t engaged in their jobs. That’s another way of saying they’re not all that motivated to do the work they were hired to do. The implications to bottom line performance are quite obvious.  Add to that shortening attention spans plus an affinity for video games among this demographic and employers face a vexing set of problems. That’s especially the case for those with high numbers of frontline employees, the people who serve as the face of their companies in their direct dealings with customers. 

The proverbial cherry on this business challenge sundae is the business environment we’re in. It’s enormously competitive and roiled by constant change. New products, procedures, regulations, and more tend to make a day at work anything but fun.

And that’s where gamification comes in. Before going any further, gamification is not about playtime. 

Gamification helps organizations engage, teach, reward, and retain employees. In fact, the application of game mechanics, at the heart of gamification, is proving to be instrumental in improving performance in sales, customer service, and training. It’s been shown to increase measured sales performance by 3X.

Let me share the experience of Brian Snyder, a regional director with Cellular Sales, a Verizon premier retailer. He oversees about 6,000 sales associates – mostly Millennials – working in 700+ stores across 29 U.S. states. He was using a manual method to push sales initiatives that were limited to one KPI and provided performance updates infrequently, at best. What’s more, it couldn’t scale and did nothing to motivate his sales associates or, for that matter, the company.

Since his team members were seemingly always on their phones, Brian opted for a mobile-first approach with his move into gamification to afford 24/7 access. The switch permitted him to go from putting just one KPI to nine put in front of his employees. It also meant performance updates could be seen every hour. Since he was dealing with salespeople, competitive by nature, a series of challenges and missions, linked to KPIs and learning activities, were developed using a car race narrative. That was the game. And did they have fun competing on a peer-to-peer basis, team-to-team, and individually. Do things asked of you in the game and a participant gains points. Do them well, get more points. Incentivized motivation.

To bring the full sense of a fun competition, along with the points were badges to signify accomplishments, and leaderboards to see how everyone was doing. Employees saw the results of their efforts in the context of the game and, importantly, were able to get hints of what was needed to get to the next level; said another way, get closer to their bonuses. And because employees and managers had access to the same performance data, the dynamic of 1:1’s changed from catch-ups to coaching sessions. 

Using this gamified performance to motivate employees to drive past their goals, Brian saw his team achieve a 53% increase in sales of a newly introduced iPhone over the prior device launch. Now that’s a fun day at work.

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