Gamification In The Workplace - 10 Mistakes To Avoid!

There is a strong growth when it comes to adoption of gamification and employee engagement technology among a vast number of companies. But, according to Gartner, many of the gamification projects fail, and they fail not because of technology implementation but because of poor design or execution. 

Here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid and some ideas to consider when implementing a gamification platform in the daily life of your contact center team:

1. Don't focus solely on contests and leaderboards. There is far more to gamification than just contests, points and prizes. Positive reinforcement, collaboration, motivation, teamwork, better employee engagement at the agent and team level - just a few examples where the focus can be. 

Make sure that competition and contests that are in place are not rewarding the same top 5% of your team - this could quickly discourage the rest of the team. Automatically increase the challenge if somebody won - decreasing the chances of repeat win and giving others a fighting chance.

Contests and challenges don't always need to end with cash rewards or extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic reward system goes a long way and giving small bonuses with extra breaks, or late day start options could be an excellent option too. Later in the article, I am going to include a point about balancing extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.

2.  Make sure that your team is ready and committed. Gamification doesn't happen but itself and requires buy-in and participation of all levels. Agents need to be willing to adopt, learn, and use the platform on a daily basis. Managers and team leaders need to do the same thing, but their responsibility expands further with analytics capabilities and sometimes additional functionality that is visible only to a management level users. Management is also responsible for breathing in life into gamification platform by creating contests, giving rewards, creating challenges and giving individual goals, and more - it is up to managers to regularly fuel and service the platform to push the success. Bottomline is that gamification platform needs to become a part of the corporate culture - and that's a challenge on its own.

3. Turning gamification "On" and "Off" doesn't work. As it is with everything else - consistency is the key to success, and it is the case with gamification projects too. Big or small - once started you can't just turn it on and off. That's how gamification projects fall apart - management needs to be fully committed to making it a full-time project. In parallel with consistency gamification and employee engagement programs and technology need to provide value and reward the right behavior. Gamification is not a "game" - don't gamify behaviors that does not give benefit to your company. Make sure that your gamification project has a clear goal and that you're gamifying a particular set of KPI's or parameters that will influence that goal. Modifying agent behavior, giving agents auto-management tools, increasing engagement, motivating culture of teamwork and agents helping each other - what will be your top 3 areas of focus and which KPI's and indicators will you choose to gamify?

4. Find intrinsic and extrinsic reward balance. Don't make rewards too easy to get and find the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic sides. Ask you platform provider for advice - chances are they have already guided dozens if not hundreds of companies through the same challenge. Balance is an important thing - you can't just focus on intrinsic rewards (badges, points, leadership boards, etc.) -  extrinsic rewards (monetary rewards) should be present but in smaller volumes. Intrinsic rewards are important on a daily basis and similar to computer games provide a sense of accomplishment, growth, and achievement - without costing anything. Extrinsic is there but as a big payoff for leading the charts, being the best and driving the success for the team.

5. Don't silo your gamification platform - bring in your data from other solutions - CRM, call center management platform, etc. Make data from these platform actionable within the gamification framework. Many don't know about this, but gamification platforms bring to the table analytics, machine learning and in some cases AI capabilities - that give trove of opportunities (especially to the managers). This is where you get the chance to learn from your team performance, find out optimization opportunities, understand and leverage performance capabilities at an agent level. Don't miss this chance - talk to you gamification technology provider and ask - What data can I bring? How can I leverage it and what other companies are doing in my niche with similar data? Avoid trapping your gamification and employee engagement solution in the silo!

6. Don't limit the power of the users - give some control to your agents. Ability to create, modify and customize their platform avatars and portions of their interface or, for example, provide your agents an ability to challenge each other in the form of micro competition one vs. one, or team vs. team. Give them the ability to cheer for each other and congratulate their colleagues with successes. Social media has some great examples of how this can be implemented. These are small things they don't cost anything and agents feel like they have some control and say in a way the platform works.

7. Introduce gamification beyond top 5 KPI's. It will help in a long-run to introduce gamification in more that one area. For example training and knowledge tests, employee onboarding, employee community activities, - think of the areas where gamification can extend. Leaderboards can go beyond the top 5 KPI's and highlight other achievements - in case of nGUVU and our platform there are 15 plus niche categories that we use for the leaderboards. One other application example can be rewarding and displaying your top team players that help onboard new employees or assist others the most. As I mentioned before with gamification think of the areas and behaviors that you want to influence with gamification.

8. Create a community for your "players" - agents. Leaderboards don't work that well when you don't know the people you are playing with. Make sure that you have functionality in place that allows your agents to interact with each other - send "high five" or a "cheer," create a challenge, send a message, active a team event, etc. 

This is where you want to make sure that there is functionality that will reinforce teamwork, collaboration, and communication - if you're supporting all three your gamification project will have a better chance of success in a long run. 

9. Don't gamify behavior that doesn't provide value to your team and company. Too often gamification and employee engagement technology is considered a kind of "magic bullet" that fixes all behavioral problems... Yes, gamification can go a long way and has a powerful impact on agents behavior, responsibility levels, and self-management capacity. Your players are smart if you're trying to promote behavior that brings no value - they will figure it out, and it will lead to discouragement and de-motivation. 

Before you implement any gamification strategy that drives the behaviors you want, ask yourself what value these behaviors will provide to your players. Sometimes the value can simply be
entertainment and fun, but on top of this it needs to include real value.

I am going to mention this again - ask your gamification platform provider about best practices when it comes to behavior rewards and KPI's gamification.

10. Never try to fix a broken service or product with gamification. If your service or product is "broken" - tend to it first before engaging in a gamification project. I truly believe this point is very much self-explanatory.

Gamification can go a long way in correcting agents behavior, driving performance, improving collaboration and teamwork, and increasing the level of employee engagement. Before you start your project ask - what are the behaviors and kpi's my company wants to improve, do I have the support from both managers and agents, is my team ready for a full-time project? Talk to your gamification provider - about your industry and company type best practices. Chances are they have already done a few similar projects and know the best path.