Nowadays, it seems companies are increasingly giving importance to the happiness of their employees. And with right reason. Fulfilled and engaged employees are more likely to stay and be productive. It’s a win-win for the company and the staff.
Yet, a recent Gallup poll showed that 70% of employees feel they are not engaged in their jobs. The same poll showed that this high level of employee disengagement could cost an organization roughly $350 billion a year in lost productivity.
It's clear that it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain employees. And with Millennials entering the workforce, managers must learn to tame a different kind of animal. Millennials have grown up in an education system built around instant gratification.
I mean, let’s be honest, being a millennial myself, I received awards for holding the door open for my classmates and shiny medals just for passing the 6th grade. Not rocket science, yet I was still told I was special for doing so.
Other millennials have grown up in a similar environment. They look for fast results, rewards and quick growth. This is how we were raised.
So as a manager, how do you gain control of your workforce and get your staff to bring in the results you need?
Gamification: the concept of using game mechanics or game elements in a non-game context. This can mean badges, a point system and moving up to the next level when employees perform well. It can even be as simple as creating leaderboards to showcase your highest-performing employees.
The benefits of call center gamification are many. But the number one reason companies adopt gamification is to engage and motivate employees.
Money used to be enough for Baby Boomers. It’s no longer the case for Millennials.
As a consequence, the corporate world has taken example after the gaming industry, where users have motivators other than money. A call center called LiveOps implemented gamification elements and found that agents were able to reduce call time by 15% and improve sales by up to 12%.
How did this happen?
When gaming, users aim for the top position or score. If used right, intrinsic motivation (personal motives) can be stronger than extrinsic motivation (external rewards such as money).
Gamification can reduce training time
Call center gamification has also been shown to improve training by increasing the amount of information employees retain and reducing the length of time it takes to do so.
Why? By making training more fun. Students rather take part and role play (or even watch their coworkers role-play) on how to take a complicated customer call rather than listen to a 1-hour course on the subject.
Gamification has allowed companies to reduce their training time, thus saving money and getting new employees ready to start taking calls sooner.
Gamification increases productivity
Nobody likes to be bored at work, and 89% of employees say it’s important for their workplace to be fun and social. By making the workplace more fun, it can also become more productive. When done well and employees have strong intrinsic motivators, work doesn’t feel like work anymore and they can actually look forward to their job.
Not only does it boost productivity by making the workplace more fun, but also by making it more competitive. It provides an easy way to acknowledge and reward top performers.
Recognizing top performers plays a crucial role in employee satisfaction as it makes staff feel valued, thus further increasing their motivation to succeed in the workplace.
Danger zones of gamification
Gamification isn’t the answer to a poorly run call center. It won’t fix management issues, inadequate hires or poorly trained staff.
Gamification is a tool to be used as an enhancer. It has to be done correctly and must be backed up by good management practices.
Gamifying unnecessary tasks
Call center gamification needs to be well thought-out. Avoid creating a point system for a task that’s not getting done because employees find it tedious. Some work-related tasks are inherently boring, even when you dress them up with points, badges, and leaderboards. Filing documents won’t get done more often just because employees now receive a badge for doing so.
Games should be optional and not mandatory. They stop being fun when they are made to be an obligation. Employees should have the option to participate (or not) and other forms of learning and growing should be available.
Not all staff learn the same way. Some prefer hands on, shadowing or even reading material. Make other possibilities of learning available for your employees and let them choose.
Firing, cheating and getting ahead
Leaderboards can be a delicate topic. It can quickly become a "survival of the fittest” competition with the wrong company culture.
It can point out the best employees just as much as it can the weakest employees. Therefore, it’s important you set clear guidelines as how management takes action on such results to avoid gamification backfiring through employee demotivation. Rewarding and training should be key, not scolding and firing.
But not only can it set tension between staff and management, but amongst employees as well. What starts off as friendly competition can turn into feisty fight where employees cheat the system to score more points. In a workplace where employees turn on one another in order to get ahead, nobody wins. Cooperation and communication are essential to a thriving gamified workplace.
Gaming loses its purpose
Setting up and maintaining a game-like system can be challenging. The novelty can wear off and employees stop using it. Or the system is not set up correctly and staff loses sight of the real end goal thus affecting productivity negatively. After all, gamification is essentially created for employees to stay on track, not play around mindlessly.
Gamification is a tool of the future that can serve a great deal to retain, train and motivate employees. The key is really to have a well thought out action plan for adopting the tool within an organization.
Are you considering adding gamification elements to your call center? PlayVox can help you do so. Find out more here.