How to Gamify Your Business to Energize and Engage Your Staff

11/02/2016 08:38 pm ET Updated Nov 03, 2017

The concept of gamification has taken over hiring, education, and even Harvard's library. It works because it's engaging and fun. Society has adapted to the Internet in thousands of ways, with social sharing and collaboration at the center of our relationships.

Nearly two full generations have grown up online--the energetic millennials who make up much of our workforce and team-centric crowdsourcers working elbow-to-elbow with their fiercely competitive elders.

With such diverse generational work priorities, how can businesses motivate their employees without alienating workers at either end of the age spectrum?

Some companies are dabbling in an intuitive sandbox solution known as gamification. Games are our earliest learning tools, and we're finding out now that they work just as well for adults as they do children.

Gamification is a way to encourage desired behaviors, help employees develop necessary skills, and enable innovation through problem-solving. Businesses use it to improve performance, educate and inspire employees to advance in their careers, and to engage customers.

Nextiva, a business cloud communications company, has embraced gamification. The company's customers can use Nextiva Analytics, its comprehensive reporting and analytics program, to create leaderboards where employees can measure their performance against their co-workers. Rankings can be calculated by several measurable factors, including number and length of inbound, outbound or total calls, and by individual or team performance.

Nextiva CEO Tomas Gorny explains, "Gamification is focused on engagement. Human beings are naturally competitive, and friendly competition spurs them to improve. This leads to increased productivity for the entire team. Success can be measured and defined by innovation. In order to win, employees are challenged to find more streamlined processes to meet customer needs."

Today's businesses rise and fall based on how well they respond to customer service issues. Call analytics and Nextiva's gamification tool gives businesses an edge in highly-competitive markets. It allows employers to gain insight into how their employees are performing and how teams are working together, and spot trends before they become issues.

Can gamification work for your company?

When implementing gamification in your company, keep your end goal in mind. Engaging employees and building their knowledge is important, but the end goal should be increased productivity and efficiency. Your program should use analytics to encourage employees to compete in a friendly environment, and not add counter-productive stress.

Gamification based on analytics can help you pinpoint issues and streamline processes. This data gives you a clear understanding of what's happening so you can help your employees move forward.

If you're considering gamifying your company, here are some basic principles to keep in mind:

1. Set realistic, measurable goals. If you're running an inbound or outbound call center, define your goals and reward employees when the goals are reached.

2. Make sure your employees understand the benefits. Base your program on shared goals. Great customer service is better for both customers and employees.

3. Track progress. Determine a baseline performance metric before you launch the program, and track progress as you go.

4. Establish a rewards program. Games should always be fun. Little rewards along the way encourage people to keep moving toward the end goal.

Ultimately, if you would like to implement gamification in your organization, it needs to fit your unique environment. Its success will depend on how well you integrate the program into your corporate culture, and how well it fits employee motivation.

Games are something we understand on a primal level, and employees in any age group can enjoy playing. When done well, it's an opportunity to bring your group together and raise productivity across the board.