IC Matters › Engagement

Engaging Employees: Getting it right with Gamification

Emma HanleyEmma Hanley·

Using Gamification to Increase Adoption and Engagement of Internal Communication Campaigns

With an increasingly diverse and remote workforce and a proliferation of channels at their disposal, Internal communicators are always for looking new ways to truly engage employees, reinforce change programs, disseminate information and promote innovation. Gamification is being used by internal communicators to achieve these goals.

But what is gamification and is it a suitable method for delivering corporate communication?

Gamification is the use of game or play elements (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) in a non game context to engage and motivate people. It involves applying game theory to employee communication in order to encourage interaction and understanding of business critical information and behaviors. Put simply it’s making something mundane or difficult into something fun, interactive and rewarding – making something not a game into a game.

Why is gamification suitable for internal communication?

Games are good fit for behavior change, they tap into a common need to create a sense of belonging and into our innate drives for competition, self expression, and achievement (this is true for all employees, not just for Generation Y and the Millennials). Studies have shown that gamification can increase employee well-being in the workplace.

Once seen as a magic bullet, gamification has now matured and communicators are aware that not to use games for games sake but instead they are linking it to business and department goals and setting out clear measureable objectives for the initiatives. For example a simple scavenger hunt could be for the purpose of driving the adoption of a new intranet or a list of tasks to complete and number of posts on the ESN platform can be rewarded with badges unlocked and presented visibly in front of peers, colleagues and managers.

How do you use it?

Gamification really took off from 2010, so it’s been around for a quite some time, starting off in the consumer sector and then being adopted by internal communicators. Creating competition, and offering reward and recognition has been around before the first organizational systems theory was written. So I’m only going to offer three pieces of advice.

It doesn’t have to be digital – In order to achieve the engagement you want, it is important not to accidently exclude remote and offline works. The McDonalds stars program is one example of how this was done in a training context. I would welcome your experiences (please feel free to contact me and I will add them to this post).

Don’t underestimate employees – In the rush to deliver badges and rewards, it can be easy to overlook the fact that our employees are creative, busy, educated adults. Avoid being perceived as lame (‘lamification’ as it has been colorfully referred to) by providing challenges that don’t diminish the impact and value of employee contributions. Ensure rewards are valuable to employees, provide genuine intrinsic rewards and visible recognition opportunities from peers and senior management.

It doesn’t have to be complex or big budget to work – Francis Forte, Marketing Communications Specialist at Miami Children’s Health System in South Florida and her team have been using gamification with great success. Using embedded interactive features, including gamification in the form of interactive pop quizzes, has been key in increasing opens, awareness and engagement with their weekly newsletter ‘MCH Pulse’.

“Sometimes we get 300+ comments in just one article.”, Francis says, “It’s been really fun. And people tell us they look forward to MCH Pulse now. I get stopped in the hallways and asked – what was the answer to this week’s game?”

Further reading –


More stories

Recommended reading from the staff at Poppulo.