So you have a shiny new G Suite intranet. It’s great, really, isn’t it? It holds so much promise, so much potential. And yet… your workforce isn’t (yet) enamoured. They’re complaining about change, about having to get used to another new system. They’re struggling to know where to go and what to do. And despite all of your communications and guidance helping them out, they still aren’t logging on much.
You need an intervention. You need some form of power, a weapon, or maybe an assassin to stalk through the office – or better yet, a superhero to come and take charge and swing everything in the right direction.
We can’t promise the Avengers will move away from dealing with Thanos to help, or that Super Mario and his crew will kart onto the servers and shake things up a bit – and we definitely haven’t gone doolally with all this talk of heroes and games. Consider it a cut scene, a prologue before we bring you into the point of the day.
That’s right – we’re here to talk about gamification for Internal Communications.
The workplace is not for games
“No, it’s not meant to turn work into a game,” writes Daniel Newman for Forbes. “[Gamification] plays on the psychology that drives human engagement - the drive to compete, improve, and out-do - and to get instantly rewarded while doing so. It’s the carrot on the stick that keeps the rabbit chasing. The technology is merely the means to put that psychology to work in the business sphere.”
Gamification for Internal Communications, as a concept, has been around for a while now, and it’s been taking hold by stealth. You might not even realise you’ve introduced it. Do you give out badges for good behaviour in your digital workplace? Have a weekly quiz? Do you have a leaderboard for most helpful employee, or reward-based incentive programmes? Then a word to the wise: you’ve already established gamification for Internal Communications.
The term “gamification” just means introducing game-like elements to your communications strategy – that’s things like levels, badges, leaderboards, points and rewards for behaviour. It’s about leading employees down the paths you want them to go by incentivising that behaviour. And as your workforce becomes dominated by Millennials and Generation Z, it’s these sorts of mechanics - the ones they’ve been using every day of their lives in social media and mobile apps - that will get them using the systems you want them to.
Gamification can drive adoption and team collaboration
In another study, 79% of responders believed they’d be more productive if their work was more game-like. As Millennials continue to represent a growing proportion of today’s workplace, this demand is only likely to increase.”
By gamifying everyday processes in your digital workplace, you can make them more interesting for employees. Introduce rewards for using the intranet portal for expenses submission, or for annual leave applications. Recognise the biggest contributors to conversations and blogging. Do it in a way that makes the employee feel warm and fuzzy, give them that adrenaline rush, and they’ll be more likely to come back and repeat the behaviour.
TalentLMS surveyed a group of US employees who had experienced gamification at work. They found employees feel that gamification makes them more productive (87%), more engaged (84%) and happier (82%) at work. They also found penalties and punishment for not completing a boring task would only work in 7% of cases - the carrot is better than the stick.
Any gamification for Internal Communications must be aligned to the wider comms plan, of course, but by appealing to the competitor within employees - to their self-interest, really - you can both recognise performance and help staff to expand their knowledge. It can even be a great team collaboration and team-building opportunity; imagine if colleagues could give out badges to thank someone for help, or to recognise the extra hours someone has been putting in on a project. This is not something that has to be driven from the top. In fact, when the employees run with your gamification, you know it’s become part of the way you do things.
Using gamification to embed your G Suite intranet
It’s not all fun and games, remember: this is about the serious business of getting employees to use and love your G Suite intranet. That means you need to attach outcomes to your gamification and drive behaviour change.
That scenario earlier, the one about employees giving out their own badges? That’s gamification 101, and it should be part of your G Suite intranet and digital workplace roll-out. It’s gimmicky, sure, but it gives people a reason to log on and interact within your intranet environment.
Gamification techniques also work brilliantly in learning and development scenarios. Even Deloitte - yes, a bunch of accountants - have seen success here. They were early adopters of gamification for Internal Communications with the Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA) training programme. HBR reports that participants exhibited almost addictive behaviours, with a 37% increase in the number of users returning to the site each week. The DLA embedded missions, badges and leaderboards into a user-friendly platform alongside its video lectures, in-depth courses, tests and quizzes, resulting in more engaged users who were more likely to complete the online training programmes.
“Games are a good fit for behavior change,” writes Emma Hanley for Poppulo. “They tap into a common need to create a sense of belonging and into our innate drives for competition, self expression, and achievement. Studies have shown that gamification can increase employee wellbeing in the workplace.”
Want people to get to know your new G Suite intranet? Introduce a scavenger hunt, where they need to find information embedded in different sections of your G Suite ecosystem to score points and win prizes. Want them to post and interact more in your channels? Try the good ol’ public badge to display on their personal profile and show off how good they are with your intranet. You could even combine the two: a scavenger hunt for someone who’s got a badge as an expert in X subject or task? Now you’re a gamification expert!
Make content or interaction more interesting and engaging
Encourage contributions to social and collaboration platforms
Increase the submission of user-generated content
Encourage general participation and adoption on the intranet or social network
Signpost which content and contributions have value
Provide a “call to action” to encourage user behaviour
Support specific goals such as peer-to-peer recognition, ideation and training
Remember to measure progress as your digital workplace takes hold
Outcomes aren’t enough, though; you won't know if the gamification is working in your digital workplace unless you measure the progress towards those outcomes. Set milestones and small steps in your engagement plan and take stock on a regular basis to make sure your employees are both enjoying the gamification and making the progress you want them to.
You might’ve set the overall goal of 75% of employees logging on and interacting with the G Suite intranet on a weekly basis - lofty, but it’s good to aim high! You might then niche down and say actually, the Slack integration is the most important gateway to getting people to use the G suite intranet, so you measure the number of active users there, especially if they’re sharing links to your Google Drive or Google Docs for team collaboration. Or, you might want to drive adoption of your mobile app to raise awareness of the portability of your G Suite intranet, so you measure the active sessions.
Make sure you hook up your G Suite intranet to your Google Analytics account to get a true overview of the audience using your digital workplace. This will let you see the total amount of logins from both existing and new users - measuring that all-important adoption curve - plus the number of sessions each user has, the paths they’re taking within the intranet, and how long they spend on the intranet on average.
Because let’s face it: the badges and leaderboards are fun, but the games are there for a reason. You want to be able to prove it’s working, to see the progress happening as you introduce gamification for Internal Communications. Think of the analytics as the gold coins you collect on your way to save the princess from the dragon, and get your workforce loving your G Suite intranet.