You Want That Feedback. You NEED that Feedback!
I often talk about how we all desire reward, status, achievement, self-expression, and competition (or “comparatition,” but I’ll save that word for another post.) Game designers actually figured out a long time ago that they could address all of these desires through an appropriate mix of game mechanics to make experiences fun, enjoyable, and - dare I say – addicting. They use game mechanics like points, badges, leveling, trophies, leaderboards, newsfeeds, and avatars to keep you playing Angry Birds, Farmville, or Call of Duty way past your bedtime.
What continues to crop up as I talk to companies looking for ways to make the workplace environment more enjoyable and conducive to creativity, achievement, and productivity is that at the core of all these mechanics is one thing: Feedback.
Just as Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson) said in A Few Good Men, “You want me on that wall. You NEED me on that wall.” We all want and NEED feedback. Without it, we’re lost.
When your kid goes potty for the first time on their own, they look to you to know that what they did was a good thing. You turn in a report to your boss; you expect feedback about the contents of the report and if it met her needs. If not, you’re left wondering and likely uncomfortable. When you put your ATM card in the slot, you get a signal that you put it in the right way. If you enter your PIN correctly, you know it. You need to know! Do you comment on the meal that your spouse made you? Of course you do. “Love the mashed potatoes!”
Imagine a world where you never know where you stand and if what you’re producing meets the needs and expectations of your co-workers, your boss, your family, or your friends. You’d go through the day in a stupor wondering if what you’re doing is making any difference, if you should even bother doing it anymore.
In the workplace, however, it is very difficult to provide consistent and meaningful feedback. It can be exhausting and difficult to provide. Managers don’t have enough time in the day to look in on and comment on what their reports are producing. They’d never get anything else done. This is where game mechanics can come in.
As an employee, I don’t expect my boss to personally come over and provide constant and consistent feedback that I am focusing appropriately on what is important to the business. However, I do want to know that what I am doing is the right thing – that I’m on the right train on the right track. Don’t tell me in 8 months during my review that I’ve been producing crap and things need to change or else. Give me the feedback that I crave on a regular basis. But, let’s automate it so it doesn’t take up all of your time.
Whether knowingly or not, feedback that addresses my desire for reward, status, achievement, competition and self expression is already occurring in numerous ways: bonus pay signifies a reward, status is represented by my new job title or larger office, achievement is highlighted at the company meeting when I receive employee of the month or recognition for a project well done, I compete with my colleagues on how many accounts I can handle, I self express through the pictures on my desk.
The challenge is that most of us want more consistent and accurate feedback that what we’re doing is the right thing. A yearly bonus or title promotion leaves a lot of room for uncertainty. One of the biggest reasons why valuable employees leave employers is because they did not feel appreciated or appropriately recognized for their contributions.
So what if there were ways to provide the feedback that employees want in a consistent, automated, yet meaningful manner? There is! Game mechanics implemented into the workspace where they are already spending hours of their day can provide this much-desired feedback.
At the end of the day I can look at the missions I’ve accomplished and know that my boss can SEE the value I brought to the organization today. I don’t need to walk over and casually mention that I’ve been killing it this week; she sees the progress I’ve been making - as do my fellow employees - in the newsfeed that permeates our intranet. Others are motivated by pre-determined achievements and want to keep up to demonstrate their value. It also provides a clear path for success. People aren’t wondering if what they are doing is valued. “Should I focus on getting these reports done or schmooze with the boss at lunch today? Will he even know that I finished these reports today?”
A byproduct is that managers end up providing clearer expectations so that true contributions to the company’s success are incented and rewarded and those clearer expectations drive greater transparency which leads to greater excellence in the workplace.
LiveOps, a Bunchball customer, uses game mechanics to recognize 23% improvement in call handle time and a 9% increase in customer satisfaction. In addition, their onboarding time for new agents has gone from 4 weeks to 14 hours!
What would your bottom line look like if your employees and team members were 15% more productive? Implementing game mechanics into the workplace, when done thoughtfully and in a meaningful manner, drives tremendous productivity.