Elise Olding

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Elise Olding
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a Research Director covering the complex challenges of organizational change and business transformation from a people perspective. Her areas of focus include organizational change, communications strategies and emerging trends in employee engagement from a hands-on practitioner view. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on best practices to achieve sustainable change and business transformation. She is a member of Gartner's Business Process and Transformation team. Read Full Bio

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“Engagification”of the Enterprise – Gamification and Employee Engagement

by Elise Olding  |  November 14, 2012  |  12 Comments

I had the pleasure of crafting one of Gartner’s top predicts for 2013:

By 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. (Gartner’s Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2013 and Beyond: Balancing Economics, Risk, Opportunity and Innovation)

Why do we need to consider gamification in our workplace transformation efforts? According to John Kotter, 70% of business transformation efforts fail. Add to that the impact of 71% of American workers who are not engaged or actively disengaged from their work (according to Gallup), and less likely to be productive. This paints a dismal picture for business change and transformation efforts as organizations are clearly not addressing the fundamentals needed for success. Technology, the program plan and/or a lack of vision are not the root issues; it’s the lack of engagement and buy-in from employees who need to embrace new ways of working. When transforming business operations, organizations will need to cement behavior changes and engagement as part of the work activities.

Gamification can help organizations make the workplace more engaging and productive. The same incentives that inspire game players to strive for the next level in a computer game can also inspire your employees to reach for a higher level of performance and engagement — if they are properly applied. Gamification hype is rampant, and the uses inside the enterprise are still emerging. My recent research found only a handful of effective implementations that demonstrated measurable, increased employee engagement. Gartner expects to see that continue over the next few years as lessons are learned and effective techniques are honed.

In presenting this topic at Gartner Summits and Symposiums around the world this year, the reception has been surprisingly positive. The number of organizations exploring the use of gamification for employee engagement continues to grow. During each conference there are a handful of attendees (some from very large organizations) that share with me their forays into using gamification to increase engagement.   

Here are a few tips when applying gamification within the enterprise:

  • Strive for collaboration. Gamification is often associated with competition, but it is great tool for enhancing business collaboration and maximizing business outcomes.
  • Define your transformation objectives, metrics and desired outcomes. Then consider what kind of behaviors you want to reinforce and apply the appropriate gamification techniques.
  • Understand what works in a particular culture. Not everyone is motivated by the same techniques. Even within a single organization, there can be many different cultures — some competitive and some more collaborative, some assertive and some more passive. Each group will have its own motivations.
  • Plan for iterations and “upping the game” to avoid fatigue, foster continued engagement and promote continuous improvement.

There has been some negative reaction to the term gamification – most recently at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona – so I’ve been trying out “engagification.” So far, there has been positive reception. It seems to get at the root of the challenge – which is employee engagement.

What’s your reaction to using the term engagification? Please, please comment!  

Check out the upcoming webinar presented by Daryl Plummer : Top Technology Predictions for 2013 and Beyond 

Follow me on Twitter:  @eliseolding

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