There’s more to engaging, motivating, and empowering employees than simply giving lip service with buzzwords like “you’ve got this,” “quick win,” and “continuous improvement.” Numerous studies link employee satisfaction, performance, and engagement with management’s ability to provide actionable, positive feedback and coaching. Yet managers continue to fall short.
According to a recent Gallup survey, only 23% of employees worldwide and 32% in the U.S. fall in the “engaged” category.
In order to be successful, managers need to be better equipped to provide ongoing feedback and employ effective strategies to boost employee engagement. One strategy is incorporating gamification in the workplace. Implemented correctly, gamification can increase motivation and engagement. Highly engaged teams outperform the rest in business outcomes critical to your organization’s success.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is a strategy that drives motivation and engagement and creates a culture where employees continuously work to achieve the organization’s business objectives and, in turn, get rewarded and recognized.
It involves adding elements of games (think of the best video games or apps) to non-game activities such as working and delivering customer support. In a contact center setting, this can mean badges, a point system, and moving up to the next level when agents perform well. It can even be as simple as creating leaderboards to showcase your highest-performing team members.
Gamification works because it brings fun and interactivity into the workplace, where tasks, training, and activities are often lacking in keeping employees interested and motivated.
There are three elements to motivation — autonomy, value, and competence — and all three are important to incorporate in a workplace gamification strategy to positively impact employee behavior and achieve organizational objectives.
Reward, recognition, and competition are all excellent motivators. Gamification works well within a contact center environment because it leverages a number of game mechanics to keep agents engaged and focused. It can also be successful in curbing bad habits and promoting better behavior, although that shouldn’t be your primary reason for implementing gamification.
Examples of Gamification in the Workplace
While not a new concept, brand-name and small companies alike use gamification in the workplace to engage and motivate customers, prospects, sales teams, developers, and contact center agents.
Some examples include:
- A large technology company uses riddle game techniques to attract skilled job candidates. This same company uses a game-like app with rewards to encourage employees to save on travel expenses.
- Training organizations offer prizes and rewards for completing learning modules and interject game-like interactivity to keep employees interested as they progress.
- Contact center managers leverage gamification techniques and tools like badges, point systems, and leaderboards, as part of an overall quality management solution to attract, engage, and retain high-performing agents.
Benefits of Gamification
The number one reason for adding gamification in the workplace is to engage and motivate employees. A gamification program can be especially useful for a remote workforce, where employees are distributed across multiple locations and may not get much face time with one another.
Gamification offers benefits to agents while helping contact center leaders meet business objectives.
- Makes work, feedback, and learning fun and engaging – Leaders need to find ways to motivate different types of personalities and age groups in customer service centers. Adding game-like elements is one way.
- Decreases stress – Delivering customer support is stressful, and agents feel pressure to deliver outstanding customer experiences with every interaction. Adding some fun and rewards to everyday tasks can help alleviate some of the stress and provide extra motivation to excel.
- Promotes collaboration and a sense of community – Friendly competition between teams, especially with remote workers, can bring a collaborative spirit and sense of community to dispersed teams.
- Increase employee productivity – By making mundane tasks, training, and customer support challenges more fun, gamification can also make agents more productive. When employees have strong intrinsic motivators, work doesn’t feel like work anymore, and they can look forward to their jobs.
- Boost retention and reduce churn – The goal of contact center leaders is to enhance the employee experience which in turn positively affects customer satisfaction. Agents who are engaged and motivated are more likely to stick around.
- Enhance training and learning experiences – A TalentLMS study showed that gamified employee training significantly increased employee motivation (83% felt motivated) vs. non-gamified training.
- Improve quality – Gamification should be tied to positive feedback and teaching moments as opposed to adding a “hunger games” mentality. When gamification is tied to training and positive recognition and feedback, it can improve quality, ultimately yielding happy customers and a sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction for agents.
10 Reasons to Bring Gamification into Your Contact Center
1. Break up the Monotony
Incorporating gamification elements into your training and coaching programs is one way to help decrease boredom that sometimes comes with traditional training methods. Add in points, badges, and prizes for completing training to recognize agents’ progress.
2. Friendly Competition
Gamification helps drive agents’ sense of healthy competition within themselves and with others to get them engaged to improve their skills. Leaderboards are a great way for agents to see where they rank within their team and, in turn, increase productivity and job performance.
Points, levels, and badges leverage feedback, competition, and public recognition to help change agent behavior. For example, agents can earn points when they resolve specific campaigns or cases or take a high volume of calls or emails.
We learn when we make mistakes. Negative or low gamification scores are a good way for agents to learn about problem areas and their job performance. It also lets supervisors assess and take the necessary action to help with training and coaching.
5. Social Collaboration
Let your agents showcase their rewards and contributions with public recognition. If they have just completed a difficult call or campaign, they can easily share this with their team and get positive feedback from their peers.
With humans’ attention spans on the decrease, chopping up workplace training content into bite-size pieces and adding in elements of game, interactivity, and breaks into your training makes a big difference for agent engagement and retention. It’s essential to provide ongoing training and learning for your team — they can’t keep delivering great service if their skills aren’t up to date.
Related article: Remote Agent Training In Contact Centers: 5 Key Strategies
There’s a direct correlation between high-performing teams, retention, and delivering outstanding customer experiences.
Performance feedback and coaching are must-haves in the workplace, yet contact center managers often struggle with how to do so in a consistent and productive manner.
Each customer transaction and interaction must be handled with the utmost speed, knowledge, and professionalism. We all know one bad banana can spoil the bunch. So if you’re delivering feedback to your contact center agents every month (or even every week), you’re not giving them the real-time information they need to improve their next customer interaction.
8. Performance Management
Activity trackers are popular with consumers of all ages. In fact, more than one in five adults wears one to track progress toward their goals, gamifying the process of improving their health. Just like a fitness tracker, gamifying feedback and progress toward a goal is highly motivating for workforce performance management.
9. Employee Engagement
Managers are in charge of ensuring that employees know what needs to be done, supporting and advocating for them when necessary, and connecting the dots between employees’ work, performance goals, and the organization’s success.
Contact center management is about empowering agents to engage with customers and within their teams, and adding elements of gamification can help. Customer-centric organizations know that engaged and well-trained front-line employees contribute in terms of more revenue and happier customers.
Related article: Agent Engagement: Why It Matters and 6 Ways to Nurture It
10. Quality Management
When agents feel empowered, they provide better service and more engaging interactions with customers. A good quality management program should help empower agents — not just supervise them.
Celebrate agent success. When an agent provides exceptional service and receives positive customer feedback on a call, it can easily go unnoticed. Provide opportunities for your team to celebrate excellent service by peers, supervisors, and management. Agents who get the proper recognition for their exceptional performance become more empowered and engaged — and this translates to more satisfied customers.
Keys to Successful Gamification in the Workplace
Gamification is an effective strategy to retain, train, and motivate employees. The key is to have a comprehensive action plan for adopting it in your organization.
- Set goals for gamification that are aligned with your contact center and business goals.
- Clearly communicate the goals and processes and strive to keep it friendly and motivating to avoid unintended consequences such as boredom, cheating, and a “survival of the fittest” mentality.
- Tightly cement game elements with frequent feedback and learning opportunities.
- Vary the rewards and incentives to appeal to different types of motivation. Some agents value extrinsic rewards and are motivated by competitions and leaderboards. Others seek intrinsic rewards such as personal growth and development.
- Leverage gamification as a powerful tool to encourage a sense of community and collaboration in your company culture. This is particularly important when you have remote and dispersed teams.
- Track metrics for success and improve the strategy and tactics as you progress.
How to Get Started
There are many gamification solutions on the market, so the first step is to set goals and metrics, then identify the first area(s) of priority to improve agent engagement and motivation. Make sure your solution closely aligns with those goals. It’s also important that the metrics you gamify do not drive bad behaviors in agents. Think through the goals and objectives and ensure you are driving positive changes which ultimately help achieve larger business objectives.
As with any technology you use in your business, you need to implement and fine-tune the solution you choose for the best business results. Be sure the gamification tool you select inspires the agents to not only change their behaviors and improve skill sets, but helps them achieve intrinsic motivation, a sense of achievement, and personal growth. After all, happier agents deliver better customer experiences.
Learn more about gamification in the workplace and other ways to boost agent engagement in our eBook: Top Tips for Engaging and Motivating Agents.