For example, Charlie Kim, CEO of NextJump, wanted to encourage his employees to use the corporate gym because he felt it would better their health and lead to improved productivity and a happier work force. NextJump began by offering the five employees who used the gym the most in one year a $20,000 reward. The incentive program boosted gym use from about 3 percent of the workforce to 12 percent.
Then Kim made a game of it, and challenged teams of employees to hit the gym with the promise that they would split the same $20,000 pot. The social value in being on the best team raised the number of employees using to gym to 85 percent, Zichermann said.
Zichermann also pointed to Ananth Pai, a public school teacher at Parkview Centerpoint Elementary School in Minnesota, who turned groups of failing third-graders into overachievers who attained fourth-grade reading and math skills using old Nintendo games.
Pai used off-the-shelf learning games on Nintendo DS systems to make learning fun, so much so that students even played in their free time. "Could you imagine if your employees played in their free time?" he said. "Can you imagine the productivity? What would your products look like?"
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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