As we work on "gamification" programs for top-notch companies that are seeking greater employee engagement, we've been learning a lot about what motivates people to want to do better, learn more and satisfy their customers.
And when it comes to playing digital games to learn more about their company's products, services and brands, you might be surprised to find what gets them to strive to do well and win at these activities.
It's not necessarily material gain or even tangible recognition. What we've found in this growing part of our practice, at many clients, is that employees just like to be able to say they beat their coworkers.
Imagine those player performance rankings that are part of every social video game, whether it's online or at the arcade: Employees participating in gamification activities mainly just want to sit atop those rankings. So providing simple bragging rights are a really important component of most successful gamification programs.
Sure, we're finding that some enterprises also want to offer prizes such as gift cards and branded t-shirts and other swag that recognizes and promotes the brand and the employer, and many employees appreciate that stuff.
So far, most employees don't seem to be interested in types of "badge" recognition that are big in certain forms of consumer social gaming. Badgeville and Bunchball have caught on in a big way in those formats, and maybe some day at least virtual badges will serve as a motifying force in internal gamification. But for now, they seem a little bit corny to most people as a tool for employee engagement.
In any event, neither badges nor prize hardware can hold a candle in enterprise social gaming to the notion that employees can trash-talk one another about their gamification performances. And that actually makes sense. As long as it's friendly competition, bragging rights are a great way for employees and management to spur one another to get the most out of today's increasing number of gamification platforms.