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Using Gamification to Increase Engagement with Employee Recognition Programs

February 4, 2015

by Michael Giovannone
gamificationNo matter what type of initiative an organization is looking to implement, we’ve all seen that programs must be effectively communicated and supported from the top.  If not, engagement often takes a hit.

Some employee recognition programs see increased levels of engagement when elements of gamification are introduced.  These elements don’t have to be complex.  Gamification is simply adding game mechanics to elements of a program to increase levels of engagement.  Terryberry's Give A WOW program for peer-to-peer recognition does an excellent job of introducing game mechanics to an employee recognition program.  You can consider many elements of the Give a WOW program to be game mechanics: including the Recognition Wall, the marquee, the ability to customize your profile image, and the ability to applaud or comment on recognition.
To take gamification to the next level, which will increase engagement, consider adding an element of competition.  Competition doesn’t always have to award “stuff” or “points.”  Awarding “status” can be equally motivating.

The objective is to increase and sustain levels of engagement in the recognition program.  To do this effectively, we need to find ways to ignite the passion in management as well as with individual team members.
Most people are driven by the desire to be the best, to be recognized as a leader, or even to be associated with the best.  Oftentimes success can be achieved with this objective by incorporating “leaderboards” into the communication elements of a program.

Internal competition can be a good thing; it drives our inherent desire to be the best or to be associated with the best.  I’m from Ohio, didn’t go to Ohio State, but “my” team won the National Championship.  I associate myself with Ohio State, thus I feel good about myself and I feel as if I am also a winner.

This same concept can be incorporated into employee recognition programs.  The hierarchy of employees/departments/locations can be segmented by manager  or team leader.  As “team members” become active in the program, their team and manager earn “status” in the recognition program.  "Leaderboards” or “scorecards” can be used to track and measure participation in the program.  Teams/groups/locations can be ranked on the leaderboard based on measurable results of the program, like recognition submissions and results featured on the Give a WOW site and/or on the User Engagement Summary report within the platform.

We could also incorporate a “managers” leaderboard, to instill greater targeted competition.  Another option is to incorporate the manager's name with the team or location name on the one leaderboard.   e.g. The Blue Guys Team/ John Smith manager.  This public display of recognition via competition has proven to ignite the passion in people to go above and beyond.  No one wants to be on the bottom of the list.
Putting a carrot out there (points/gifts) for team of the month/quarter/year can also work to drive engagement.  Special badges could e created for Give a WOW to recognize achievement levels.  In the gamification concept, “status” is what often times drives people to go above and beyond and to increase levels of engagement.

You can also continue to run different “promotions” to keep the program fresh.  e.g.  "This week we are going to give points to both employees who give and receive recognition." and  "This month we are going to focus on recognition actions that support customer service."
As we know, communication is the key to success.  In conclusion, if we follow these 5 simple guidelines,  our recognition programs will achieve their objectives.

  • share with people what we want them to do
  • give them tools to become successful
  • track and measure what they do
  • recognize them (individually and and/or as a team)when they achieve results, and
  • provide feedback on processes for  improvement

Gamification of an employee recognition program is just one way to drive participation and engagement.  Support and buy-in from company leadership is key as well to reinforce the value of the program to the group.

MichaelGiovannoneMichael Giovannone is a Business Development Manager for Terryberry serving clients in Chicago and the surrounding areas.  


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