To find examples of passionate engagement, Deloitte looked to World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. "You get into the game in early stages and you're given very modest kinds of challenges that you can do yourself without any help," Hagel says. "And it draws you in further and the challenges get harder and harder and you're given an environment where you can connect to others and create teams to address those challenges."
However, he warns companies against trying to create a complex World of Warcraft-style game right from the start. "In my experience, relatively few of those are successful," Hagel says. Instead, he suggests that companies start with small projects, see how employees actually use them, and build from there.
Video games, after all, have been evolving for decades. Corporate gamification systems can take time to build, as well.
Virtual rewards fuel gamification success
When employees are rewarded with cash bonuses, the bonuses can quickly become an expected part of the compensation package. Virtual rewards, however, don't cost the companies a lot of additional money, allowing companies to easily create new rewards to motivate new behaviors.
Here are some examples of how virtual rewards can be used:
- Badges: A badge is a kind of honorific that can be used to recognize employees within gamification programs or more broadly through a company's social network, newsletters, and other communication channels. Common badges include "employee of the month" but can really be anything -- "mayor of the password reset process," "social network maven," or "files firefly." That last one is a badge participants get for sharing more than 30 files in ISW Development Pty Ltd's Kudos Badges, designed to be used as part of the IBM Connections platform.
- Status symbols: Prime parking spaces, choice of offices, first pick of vacation days, access to the best conference rooms, lunches with senior management, or membership in exclusive networking or leadership groups.
- Virtual currencies: Company script, or points, can be used in place of real money to reward employees in order to create psychological distance between actions and their rewards. Increasing the number of points it takes to gain a particular reward is easier for employees to adjust to than a decrease in the size of the reward.
- Virtual goods: If a company uses virtual meeting environments and avatars, those avatars need stuff: clothes, shoes, hair, furniture. Employees can be rewarded by having a greater variety of items to choose from to outfit their avatars and virtual environments.
Korolov is a freelance business and technology writer in Massachusetts. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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