I invited Andy Blacknell, an Internal Communication specialist who has been a guest on a number of my webinars, to write about an emerging hot topic within Gamification for Internal Communications – badges. Andy explains the concept of badging, where it started – and how it could work as a part of employee engagement strategies.
Were you a Cub Scout or a Girl Guide? Can you remember the excitement of receiving a new badge and displaying it on your top? Well badges are making a comeback, but this time they don’t have to be sewn on. Open badges is an emerging educational technology from Mozilla; they are essentially image files containing information about what has been done or learned to earn the badge, together with who has issued the badge and the earner’s unique evidence.
Open Badges first proved themselves in 2013 via the Chicago Summer of Learning project. The concept was designed to address the issue that school stops over the summer holiday, but learning should not. It networked one hundred organizations to 100,000 students and helped youth from all backgrounds earn digital badges to document their new knowledge and skills.
Many other cities have since joined the badging movement along with lots of companies who’ve also seen some social opportunities. Have a look at www.onemillionyoungideas.org.uk/badgelibrary to see how companies like Salesforce, Barclays, O2 and Microsoft are starting to use Open Badges.
Impact on new hires – look out for Open Badges on resumes
You receive a resume from a graduate applying for a job in your Internal Communications team. As well as their grades and relevant qualifications, their online resume includes an open badge in journalism (issued by the BBC) and digital communications (issued by Mozilla). You click on them and see that they’ve been writing as a journalist for the last four years and achieved the BBC’s gold award and Mozilla’s bronze award for “Remixing the web”.
How might badging affect Internal Communications and help support behavior change?
Open Badges technology adds a powerful change driver to the suite of tools available to Internal Communications. Peer-to-peer communications and competition is a powerful way of engaging employees. They might not care about a global health and wellness program, but they will be much more likely to take an interest if their colleagues are “fitter” or “healthier” according to their backpack of badges. The same might apply to a financial education programme or an organization-wide transformation programme where employees might need to learn news skills and processes.
Open badges are a natural way to measure, encourage and reward learning. Why wouldn’t Walgreen’s and Tesco have an open badge for community involvement or Dallas Cowboys or Manchester United for kids football coaching?
I have an image, that could become an open badge, on my own website at www.blacknellventures.com. The “Give Away 10%” image reflects my commitment to give away 10% of my business revenue. If I set out some criteria for earning the badge and a way for others to display it then I could have my own open badge and help to drive corporate giving based on revenue not profit.
ING Group includes badging in tools to drive uptake of their intranet
Simply communicate features a case study on the Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation ING Group. One of the tools they used to drive adoption of their intranet is badging. Social Media Communications Advisor Marvin der Meer says “Badges can spark motivation in using the tool. They work very well in terms of recognition.” He says when employees join Buzz for the first time and begin building their own profiles, they get the badge ‘Starter’ on their timeline. If they are “talkative, contribute to conversations and add value to their communities” they become ‘Scout’. From there, Marvin says they can advance to the ‘Innovator’ level. Finally, if they are truly social, they receive ‘Guru’ status. Marvin says that the Guru status has been extremely helpful in growing the adoption of their intranet, because they are advocates and encourage others around them to visit and use the intranet.