The idea that games can be used for learning is not new, in fact some of the most successful games started out as educational tools. It is only a natural extension to bring the concept of games into the workspace. Games being infinitely more interesting and enjoyable, can be used to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. People have a natural desire for achievement, completion, status, and rewards. If designed right, games also get people to collaborate towards a common goal. And yes, games can get addictive as we all know from childhood – recall the countless hours spent on scrabble, monopoly, and what not.
Thanks to technology and the virtual world, game concepts have begun to work their way into key HR processes as well. As companies look for new ways to attract, engage, incentivize and retain people, games have been used both for achieving serious goals as well as just for giving people a chance to have fun. The end result, shown by several studies and examples, was amplified engagement, effectiveness of messaging and ultimately, improved productivity. With the rising trend came the rising number of gamification methods and companies that primarily focused on building the same for larger organizations. Gamification slowly made headway into the IT industry, where the sheer number of processes and platforms that an employee must interact with on a daily basis is endless. It provided the ultimate “playground” for the use of gamification, and it has been an uphill ride ever since.
Gamification, in small or large ways, has been employed by companies for various purposes. But of them all, the main has been to make processes previously viewed as “boring” less tedious, more engaging, and incentivized. Performance appraisals, joining or onboarding processes, additional recruitment systems, tasks completion and more – typically viewed as cumbersome by the large employee population – were ripe for the picking. The introduction of game elements, such as challenging individuals towards a goal, making the goal path transparent, building in the element of real-time, increasing interactivity by building a community, etc. were built onto the platforms to transform the user’s experience. It employs Design Thinking to build a ‘gameful experience’ for the end-user and creates value for the player and all other stakeholders. But building a Leaderboard, or challenging people to do more was not enough. At least for us at Infosys. A large part of gamification is to drive desired user behavior, and this was taken into consideration for the gamification platforms that we created. A couple of examples given below will give you a better idea of our experience on Gamification.
In August 2014, we introduced ‘InfyPark’, our gamified platform to engage and educate employees, both existing and new, on a topic that is of utmost importance at Infosys – our culture and value system. Our culture forms a vital part of who we are as a company, and is imbibed at an early stage in an employee’s career at Infosys. Client Value, Leadership by Example, Integrity & Transparency, Fairness and Excellence (CLIFE), as well as our Code of Conduct, form the strong foundation on which the company is built. And this provided a great start to introduce gamification at Infosys as well. Here, teaching values and culture through traditional methods like classroom sessions and interactions were tried and tested, but creating a combination of traditional and non-traditional methods (videos, games and reading material) made InfyPark a success. Built around the idea of a theme park, employees could play scenario-based games and earn points, which pushed them onto a leaderboard. The games are interactive and easy to play, like hangman and snakes and ladders, but they drive the point home as you need to apply your knowledge of company culture and code of conduct to get the answers right and earn more points. While accessible via the intranet, the platform is also available to new joins on an exclusive portal for them. Over 8,000 employees joined InfyPark within a few hours of its launch, and thousands more have joined over the last year. It has proven to be a successful employee engagement tool, with a larger purpose of learning, than just pure engagement. The platform was built exclusively to our requirements and several hours went behind conceptualizing each scenario for the games.
Another way in which we employ gamification to engage employees is through ‘Accelerate’ – a gamified platform created as a part of our initiative to get more people deployed on productive work. We term this as ‘Zero Bench’, bench being the well-used industry term to label someone not on a project. Zero Bench is a next generation people initiative that aims to maximize the potential of our talent who are currently trained and in between projects. We want to ensure that every individual is actively contributing towards organization goals by opening up opportunities for short duration projects (client and internal works). We do this through “Accelerate”. This gamified platform is present for people to post modular work based on their project requirements. We have seen tremendous response since the launch, supplemented by continuous communication through our internal channels. The work creators can leverage the potential of a transient workforce and the work performers can deliver quality work while in between client projects. The future of this platform is to create an open market place for employees and job creators across Infosys to come together in a disintermediated manner. Here too, there is a cricket-theme based Leaderboard, with rewards in place for top scorers as incentives. Accelerate has seen great uptake in the last few months since its launch as well.
We are seeing more potential in Gamification, especially when it comes to engaging the next generation workforce. While it is true that Millennials are the least engaged generation, it is equally true that this is the group that is most willing to experiment on new ideas that help them contribute and showcase their work. Using Gamification is one of the solutions a company can use to create an impact on engagements as well as become an attractor for talent. With technology evolving to make the platforms accessible on handheld devices, the potential is infinite and exciting. Imagine the whole workforce getting into a single collaborative space on their handhelds without even being in office? The game is on.