Counting our achievements and tracking our progress gives us humans a sense of accomplishment. If you’re like me, you enjoy checking your frequent flyer miles, credit card points, Fitbit steps, Facebook page followers, or LinkedIn profile strength from time to time.

Many companies are adopting internal programs like these to motivate and incentivize their employees to focus on strategic business objectives. If you engage and motivate your key players to strive, accomplish and compete, then you create an environment that brings out the highest productivity in your organization. Is it really possible to leverage the power of games to boost employee engagement?

New workplace incentive programs

Let’s talk about how you can launch this kind of a program at your company. Here are three different use cases from leading tech giants.

  • social performance platformFacebook uses the social performance platform Rypple for internal reviews and communications to support its social, collaborative, and fast-moving culture. It focuses on intrinsic motivation and allows employees to set priorities, create and compete in challenges, receive recognition from peers, and get ongoing feedback and coaching.
  • Cisco has a global social media training program with three certification levels and four sub-certification levels. It also has team challenges to incorporate a healthy dose of competition and collaboration into their training program. The results? To date, more than 650 Cisco employees have been certified with over 13,000 social media courses taken.
  • Google has a travel expense system that encourages timely submission of employee travel expense information. To reduce travel costs, Google employees who do not spend their entire travel allowance budgets are allowed to choose whether to be paid the leftover money in their next paycheck, to save it for a future trip, or donate the funds to their favorite charity. Within 6 months of this launch, Google boasted a 100% employee compliance rate!

The “Five C’s” of integrating games and incentives

  1. Customize: Games are about customization, whether it is adorning your user profile with unique abilities, traits, and appearances, or selecting a specific mission or story line. Your employees are keenly aware of their career choices. To keep them interested, you can customize career tracks by allowing them to choose options based on individual professional goals and current life circumstances within the context of business needs.
  2. Control: Games allow users to control every movement, decision and outcome. Your employees are equally interested in exercising ultimate control over their careers. With the freedom of ownership of their positions, activities, and the outcomes, your employees will feel like they are in the “driver’s seat” when it comes to their career.
  3. Cultivate: The progress bar in games is an extremely satisfying parameter because it displays how far you’ve come and how much further you have left to complete a level. Users can hone their skills and master a specific player level to advance. Create and encourage an environment where your employees have a clear path to level-up at your company.
  4. Collaborate: Your employees need to collaborate at work because, quite honestly, nothing significant can be achieved alone. They learn faster and better in teams and also sometimes leverage their social networks to crowdsource their research or decision-making.
  5. Culminate: When everyone understands the overall business objectives, you create and encourage an entrepreneurial culture. This active involvement and participation teaches them to be competitive and to focus on achievement.

In today’s engagement economy, where time and attention are becoming increasingly scarce and resources precious, your employees are likely to gravitate to activities that are authentically rewarding. If yours is a forward-thinking business it will infuse the engaging and transformative traits of games into the business strategy.

If you are already an active participant in this revolution, please share your thoughts on how your organization is leveraging game elements in your workplace to boost engagement.

Nanditha Vijayaraghavan

Nanditha Vijayaraghavan

Nanditha holds a Masters in Business Administration from Warwick Business School, UK and is currently working with Cognizant's Technology Vertical focused on... Read more