Gamification is a hot topic in business life right now. Are games just fun and play or can they bring true value to employees and businesses? If the game is not planned correctly, there is a risk it is being played just for the sake of playing. The proper aim should be to make the game about the players and business objectives, not about the board.
How to build a game that achieves business results? At Sofigate, we played a year-long game called Sofipoly in 2016. Here is what we learned:
Set your targets
- The most important thing is to understand why you want to play. What kind of transformation are you looking to achieve in your business? How about in your organization? What kind of things do you really want to develop by gamification?
- Listen to your players and their ideas so you understand their needs and wishes. Involve the players in the gamification process already in the planning stages.
- Measure your targets. Make sure you can evaluate whether the goals you have set for your game actually come true.
Our goals were strategic: the game should be continuous and it should help employees to commit themselves to the company’s culture and concepts. Most of our colleagues work at our customers’ premises and see each other only once a month at the Sofigate Breakfast. We wanted to find an easy-going and inspiring way to help people create contacts, to share best practices and to learn from each other – as well as to adapt to our company’s evolving concepts.
Plan the game
- Design the elements of the game, such as schedules and scoring systems.
- Use creativity, allow your team go crazy, and involve creative thinkers in the planning process.
- Form a detailed and systematic plan on how to manage the game.
- Plan internal marketing communications to involve employees in the game and to make it exciting amongst the players.
When we had defined our starting point, we composed a project team that never experienced a dull meeting! Our approach was well-thought-out – but also brave and experimental. Although we had already used gamification as a working method in our management team, we did not have experience in setting up a game with such a vast scope. We needed to accept right in the beginning that we would learn more along the way. Our theme became “Be a hero, play the game”. It was the same theme we used in our recruitment communications.
Prepare the game
- Create all materials required in the game.
- Start executing your marketing plan.
- Make effort to involve all game managers in charge of different events properly.
We decided to launch our game at our Christmas party as most of our employees where there – and in a receptive mood. What we learned was that one should prepare the upcoming phases of the game well ahead and also gather new ideas along the way, to be able to offer people something new all the time. A game needs regularly irregular surprises, so that the players remain enthusiastic and active.
Start the game!
- Manage the game as planned.
- Keep an eye on the feedback, listen and learn.
- Build as you go. Stoke the fire where it is burning bright – and let go of the things that are not working so great.
During 2016 we awarded altogether 4 373 points in our game. We had 232 active players in two countries. One should not take people’s motivation for granted but should instead continuously try to sense what works. We wanted to offer our people different ways to participate: our players could collect points both virtually and IRL.
Cross the finishing line… but let the game go on
- Communicate the results and celebrate the victors.
- Take the game seriously: be patient and understand that transforming a company’s culture takes time. Get yourself and others involved – and stay involved even after the game is finished.
We wanted to emphasize that the things we brought forward by gamification weren’t ready or complete at the end of the game. Our culture is in constant motion, and all employees, current and new, play an important role in its creation. Every “Sofigator” has the main responsibility of developing his or her competence, also after the game.
About the authors
Tips brought to you by Sofigate’s Advisor Timo Savolainen and SVP Sanna Siniketo, part of the Sofipoly project team.