Have you been hearing a lot about gamification? When it comes to employee engagement, data reveals gamification has quantifiable results. Research suggests a 36 percent downtick in turnover, and 48 percent of employees say they feel more engaged when game-type strategies are introduced.
But is getting results as simple as adding a leader board or a points-accumulation system to your company’s digital infrastructure? Maybe not. According to Gartner's most recent predictions, 80 percent of gamified engagement systems will fail if not implemented in the right way.
Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure, spoke with OPEN Forum about the present and future of technology and engagement. He sees the next steps for employee growth to be directed at fluid, unobtrusive events throughout the work year. And games have little to do with it.
What’s a key component to look for when using technology to cultivate employee engagement?
I won’t be surprised if, in the next three to five years, we see a renaissance around employee engagement with technology. A lot of people are realizing that the human element is the most important aspect of the business. People are what matters. There’s been a bit of an absence, a vacuum, when it comes to technology, in terms of how to really nurture and sharpen that element.
How can we use technology better when it comes to employee engagement?
I’m not one to share the full gamification vision; I don’t think employees want to run around comparing scores on how many points they got, or how many badges they have. They’re not going to be hanging out on company software, bragging about being on the leader board. I know a lot of people talk about it. There might be some tiny part of the bell curve who are into that. But that’s the exception.
What's your vision for the future?
In my mind, in five years, from the employee’s side of things, they get a notification: I’ve got to do my seven-minute refresh on OSHA compliance; I did it, I got a great score, I’m happy. Whereas today, I think half of all [company] training happens in a classroom. They get handouts on paper. Where we need to be in five years is that in-person training is rare rather than common—and let’s not divert ourselves on racking up pretend points.
You’re talking about a more autonomous culture of training and re-training. How might this lead to more engaged, goal-oriented, productive employees?
Instead of the three-day march, you want to have 20 five-minutes sessions spread out over the year. Training can be a carrot or a stick, and technology can facilitate one or the other. With the current generation, technology has to facilitate the carrot. You want to make it a non-issue. You don’t want employees to say, "Training sucks." You want them to say, "What training? I guess I’ve been doing it along the way."
What’s at stake for business leaders?
Two words: performance and retention. Your best people are worth five to 10 times your average employee. Lots of research has been done on this, and if you’re not growing them in their careers, they’re going to leave.
With Gallup research showing that a lack of growth and engagement leads to as much as $550 billion in lost productivity among U.S. businesses, reaching your staff in ways that develop, expand and measure their advancement is about every business leader’s bottom line.
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