What does sound more attractive: a traditional training course with participants sitting around tables and being loaded with a big amount of information at one shot or a game-like session, which requires participants to compete within themselves or with their own selves, and continuously pay attention?
The answer is obvious. Games are more entertaining. They are challenging and interactive, they have specific rules and require specific quantifiable outcomes. And what is more important; by its completion people often have emotional reactions and a sense of achievement when winning.
No surprise that gamification of HR processes has been there for a while. Of course many perceive the whole concept as a new buzzword. However, companies of different scales use mechanisms, very much alike to those in gaming, to recruit, motivate and train employees, as well as to improve their performance and efficiency.
Let us first of all define the concept and see what it has to do its implications in the learning process. According to Kapp, “Gamiﬁcation is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.”
For years professionals involved in teaching have been using gamification to encourage learners stay engaged, be willing to go the extra mile and interact with the others.
Gamification of trainings has several purposes. Firstly, as mentioned above, because gamification shares some of the principles of the psychology of learning, it helps trainings be more productive, interactive and provides participants with a sense of achievement and a will to grow into new levels. Secondly, it provides a platform for trainings which could otherwise be impossible or could be associated with higher cost. A flight simulation for pilots or a surgery simulation for doctors would save costs, would be safer and could provide conditions which would be hard to attain in a normal environment.
Training gamification can be done for employees of different levels, generations and professions. Some companies develop gamified trainings on their own, some cooperate with another firm or just acquire ready solutions.
Successful examples of training gamification include those developed at Deloitte, IBM, and Wall Street companies.
The Deloitte Leadership Academy deployed an innovative virtual platform to train executives. Technically developed and implemented by a firm specializing in gamification, the Academy generated content from educational institutions like Harvard, Stanford and others.
The initiative helps executives aided with any piece of technology (smartphone, tablet or pc) to learn in an interactive way and keep track of the overall training program. The technology makes it possible to design a customized training tailored to the executive’s needs and competencies.
IBM’s Innov8 is a game teaching business process management to the players, where they have to deal with a fictional company in order to build an understanding of IT and Business processes and the interactions among these.
Another example is the platform “Wall Street Survivors” used for the financial market, where the players learn the basics of the stock market and portfolio investment through a game.
Now let’s see what steps you should follow to gamify your training activities:
- Improve the feedback cycles, since gamification intensifies feedback and requires focus on each participants
- Clarify goals and rules of play, since the more specific they are, the more empowered the players feel to achieve goals
- Create an interesting narrative, since the more complete and interesting the narrative is, the more engaged participants will be
- Create tasks that are both challenging and achievable, since participants will lose motivation and get negative emotions in case of not being able to achieve goals
- Choose a partner that will help create the gamification platform
The gamified trainings let employees not only learn but experiment, without causing safety issues or losing their jobs and bonuses because of bad decisions.
- Find out your numbers – Use the HR That Works Cost Calculator and get to the bottom line of your HR practices.
- Create a rolling 90-day game plan – You must plan to succeed and without a plan, you plan to fail. Focus on one strategic objective per month and update your 90-day game plan every 30 days. Make sure the leadership team knows what you’re up to.
- Reinvent performance management – First of all, realize that most managers and employees will be glad that you finally ditched the old system. Then, watch the Performance Management Training and the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) recorded webinar and then conduct a workshop to see how you can generate a performance management system that works organically for your company.
- Introduce the Creativity Checklist and Employee Suggestion Form and require that people use it The ideas you generate should help pay for the HR That Works program for many years to come.
- Create a social media policy that works – Involve the head of IT, marketing, and a group of employees to fashion an approach that works for all parties.
- Use the HR That Works Compliance Survey every six months – Doing so will ride you of unwanted claims in the process.
- Conduct an HR survey of your management team – The HR That Works Management Survey will let you know how the management team views the strength of your contributions and where they need more help from you.
- Bring your employee handbook to life – Fact is, most employee handbooks are boring at best. On the Employee Handbook page is the contact information for our graphics expert, Summer Bonne, who will help you getting your handbook act looking right.
- Ask yourself this when you hire: Am I more interested in creating the future or preserving the past?
- Have some fun! Be creative! Get out of the box! HR has a real opportunity to generate some positive dramas at your company- and we all know we need those!
I am in, speak to, and also run Mastermind Groups and can personally attest to their power. When I was starting out my business more than a dozen years ago and didn’t have the money I do today, I did what Napoleon Hill suggested that you do in Think and Grow Rich–create your own fictional group (his “Invisible Counselors”). If you haven’t read that book a few times by now, go out and buy it today. Hill’s own personal group had people like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Lincoln in it. I had folks like Hill, Deming, Drucker, Godin and Bucky Fuller in mine. If I was a marketing guy or gal I might have people like Barnum, Ogilvy, Reis and Trout, Abraham, Levinson, Walker and Kern in mine. Here’s Hill talking on it.
If you want a copy of my Visionaries Workbook, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bottom line: Get into a Mastermind Group whether in person or in your mind!
By Kevin Trokey
I hear various broker conversations that include a similar complaint: prospects don’t seem to truly appreciate the value of the value-added services being offered. And, even when they do, they don’t use them after they become a client. There are many reasons for this, but I’m going to focus on a few within your control.
I’m assuming many of the value-added solutions you offer prospects are intended to help improve internal communications: You set up websites, deliver valuable content, discuss year-round communication strategy, provide communication resources to improve performance management and maybe you even suggest ways to improve communication with their clients.
I’m also assuming you can empathize with these conversations, and you have prospects to whom you present your solutions—prospects who would clearly benefit from having them, but never hire you to get the job done. I’m just as certain that some of your prospects-turned-clients never use the solution as either of you intended. That lack of use almost always happens for two reasons:
- Lack of motivation by the client or prospect to do the hard work of implementing the new solution, process or procedure that you are offering. This is largely because you lead with a solution rather than with a conversation as to why the prospect may need the solution.
- We, as brokers, leave them only to consider the price of our solution—or worse, leave them thinking it is “free” and, by reasoning, has no inherent value—rather than putting them in position to weigh that price against the cost of their current action (or inaction, as it were).
Leading with a client-focused conversation is a topic for another article; for now, we’ll examine some ways to quantify the high “cost of doing nothing.”
Determining the cost of doing nothing for corporate communications
To illustrate, let’s evaluate the costs for hypothetical ABC Co., based on the following information. If your prospect can identify this information for their own company, you can help them quantify their financial impact of poor communication:
- 50 employees
- Average salary = $41,674 (avg. annual U.S. wage according to ssa.gov)
- Revenue/ee = $100,000 (avg. revenue for small business)
- Profit margin = 10% (according to smallbiztrends.com)
We’re going to evaluate the organizational impact of poor communication in the following four key areas:
1. Organizational vision
Employers need to be communicating to their employees about where they are now as a company, where they are going, the steps they need to take to move from the former to the latter, and how they are performing as an organization at any point in time. Those who don’t are disconnecting themselves from their employees and exposing themselves to the high cost of employee disengagement.
According to a recent Gallup study, the cost of disengagement is represented by the term “payroll efficiency factor.” In an average company, this runs 63% (leaving an inefficiency factor of 37%). That means for every $100,000 spent on payroll, there is only $63,000 worth of work being performed. Let’s calculate for ABC Co.:
- Annual Payroll = $2,083,700 (average salary x number of employees)
- Engagement inefficiencies = $770,969 (Payroll x inefficiency factor)
- Let’s assume that only 1/3 of that inefficiency could be attributed to this area, we still have a negative financial impact of $256,989
2. Individual performance
Let’s be honest, almost nobody enjoys performance reviews—mostly because few managers have been properly trained on how to do them effectively. Many elements contribute to effective performance management, but ongoing communication between managers and direct reports is key.
A study by the Hacket Group cites companies who excel in this area show a 22% improvement in net profit margin. For ABC Co., that translates to:
- Annual Revenue = $500,000 ($100,000 rev/ee x 50 ees)
- Profit Margin = 10%
- Net Profit = $500,000
- Increased profit due to improved communication in this area = $110,000 ($500,000 x 22%)
3. Customer communication
We talk often about the importance of employee engagement, but almost as important is customer engagement. The key to customer engagement is twofold. First, engaged employees will result in engaged customers. Second, we have to ensure that we are communicating the right message in the right way to customers. When we do so (according to Harvard Business Review), the results are also twofold: engaged customers will spend 23% more with us, and the dollars that they spend will also be 23% more profitable.
Again, let’s see what that translates to for ABC Co.
- Current annual revenue = $5,000,000
- Engaged annual revenue = $6,150,000 ($5,000,000 x 23% increase)
- Engaged profit margin = 12.3% (10% x 23% increase)
- Engaged net profit = $756,450 ($6,150,000 x 12.3%)
- Improvement in net profit = $256,450 ($756,450 – previous profit of $500,000)
4. Benefit program
We all know that employers want their employees to place the highest value possible on the benefits provided, and effectively communicating that is the key to maximizing that value. What we may not all know is the quantified cost of that value: According to the McKinsey Quarterly study, effectively communicating a benefits program can reduce costs by as much as 20%. For ABC Co., that translates to:
- Annual benefit spend = $729,295 ($2,083,700 payroll x 35%)
- Potential benefit program savings = $145,859 ($729,295 benefit spend x 20%)
Totaling the cost of not communicating effectively
Organizational vision $256,989
Individual performance $110,000
Customer communication $256,450
Benefits program $145,859
Those are significant numbers! They are so significant, you may struggle buying into them. Let’s assume that they are overstated a bit—or, overstated by a lot. Even if the potential cost impact is only 20% of that total, the “cost of doing nothing” for ABC Co. is still $153,859.
I don’t know about you, but I think $153,859 is a significant amount, especially in a company with $500,000 of net operating profit. When it comes to financials, you can either impact the bottom line (what we have identified here) or you can impact top-line revenue. For ABC Co., whose profit margin is 10%, the alternative would be to produce $1,538,590 in top-line revenue. It’s pretty safe to say that that would make you the best salesperson in the company.
So, there are four areas where we all know that communication is critical and likely four areas where you have been offering solutions that don’t pique the interest of prospects or get used by clients. Perhaps if you helped them see the high cost of their current practices, those prospects would find the urgency to work with you, and perhaps your client would find the continued motivation to use what you have put in place.
As I said at the beginning, understanding this high cost is the first step. The second is putting together an implementation plan—and taking the responsibility for its execution—that will ensure your solution is used, and used as intended.
If your solutions aren’t causing prospects to buy and aren’t being used by your clients that do buy, don’t blame the solution. The likely problem is that the known “cost of doing nothing” and “plan for implementation” are missing from the picture.
It’s a picture you are capable of completing, you just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I want to?”
About the Author
Kevin Trokey is President of Benefits Growth Network, a firm specializing in growth strategies for Employee Benefit agencies, departments and producers. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Watch this brief video of Don discussing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Employer after employer is faced with hiring low wage earners who are seldom motivated toward high performance. Except for workplace newbies, most low wage earners are there precisely because of their lack of motivation, creating a classic Catch-22 for employers. If it’s true, as the saying goes, that “I’d rather have ignorance on fire than knowledge on ice,” how can you turn up the burners on low wage earners without increasing turnover? Here are three suggestions:
- Pay them a bit more. There’s no better example than the In-N-Out hamburger chain located throughout the Southwest. They attract the best in terms of low-wage talent largely by advertising that they pay at least a dollar per hour more than their competitors. Because low wage earners are motivated by survival, security, and the need to belong (in that order) the extra pay makes far more difference to them than it might to someone earning three to five times that amount. Pay them the extra money with the understanding that they’ll be excellent employees. Take a look at their web site www.in-n-out.com.
- Show them that there’s a way up. Whether it’s a landscaping business, a retail operation, or telephone bank, every company needs managers and supervisors. Show employees that there’s a career path for them if they follow guidelines and expectations, including training and experience. Offer examples of other employees who have climbed the corporate ladder and the path they had to follow. Have those employees act as spokespeople for career motivation.
- Help them belong to something larger than themselves. A classic example is Service Master: They don’t just clean buildings; they provide Service. A sense of belonging enhances cohesiveness and communication, whether it comes from a corporate theme, company uniforms, team sponsorships, or community activities. By the way, don’t assume that you know what your employees want to belong to: Ask them.
According to former America’s Cup Captain and Oxbow Corporation Presdient, Bill Koch, “The problem of competition is primarily a management problem.” According to Koch a few guidelines are steadfast reminders of the dynamic impact of the teamwork-technology-talent relationship.
- Develop team players according to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent attitude, 20 percent talent.
- Management’s job is to keep the team focused, not perform subordinates’ jobs.
- It is the team that wins. Management must be part of the team, along with customers and suppliers. Team members must have compatible goals and agendas.
- Everyone is equally important. The only ego that counts is the ego of the team.
- Along with teamwork, technology is the most effective tool to achieve your organization’s goals. Technology can be especially effective when used in areas in which others are convinced it does not apply. This is how an organization can make tremendous gains over its competitors.
- Always improve. Mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them, and you “don’t bet the farm.”
Timeless wisdom for any team.
Much has been written about the newest generation to hit the workplace. Of course, generalizations and a one-size-fits-all mentality have their limitations. Given the reality of the nature and nurturing of this generation, employers may wish to consider the following:
- Get very clear about what “privacy” and discretion means. Don’t assume they will think about it the same way you do. Up to the point they came to work for you, they’ve always been “on” from a technology standpoint. Text messaging in class, laying out their personal lives on MySpace, and so on. If you intend for them to keep something private or secret, make sure they agree to do so in a contractual document. For example, HR That Works users should consider having employees sign the Email/Internet Policy and review the Cell Phone Agreement.
- Half of this generation grew up with over-supervision (having their lives totally scheduled) while others were raised by one or two parents who had to work full time. Either way, they are going to expect or need supervision. They may not be as independent or responsible as you’d like. Being very clear with job descriptions and career paths is a must if you want them to perform.
- Much of this generation expects to get rich tomorrow. They have very little patience and have been told they can have something because they want it bad enough. It is important for leaders and managers to identify both short-term and long-term goals. Let them know that there will be no instant gratification and that they can expect to pay their dues. At the same time, let them know that if they do what they agree to do, you will live up to your promises as well and their future is bright.
- Many a Generation Me employee has grown up with parents who are over-worked and stressed out. It’s no club they want to be a member of. Unlike during the dot-com boom years, with its promise of instant gratification, Generation Me employees are not going to see an instant quid pro quo in working the extra hours. Whether they are right or wrong in their perception of a balanced life-style, employers are going to have to come to grips with this reality.
- Lastly, we have to be aware of their communication abilities. Many can’t write a decent business letter. They also have difficulty communicating in more than three sentences at a time. Employers may be wise to have them attend training sessions that improve communication skills.
Generation Me employees are arguably smarter, and more talented than any entry-level workforce in history. As we all know, someone’s emotional intelligence has as much to do with their IQ when it comes to business success. In the end, the greatest challenge for managing these employees won’t be in terms of high-tech, but rather in terms of high-touch.
When you’re trying to move up the emotional ladder, you don’t need to take a full leap at a time. Once you’re honest about where you are right now, you can then ask yourself what type of emotional response would be better. For example, if work just feels just OK, focus on it feeling good. Don’t leap to try feeling great just yet. Take it one step at a time and you’ll avoid the usual crash that most people go through. For example, if I love my fellow employees but hate my job, I could say that I love my fellow employees and I feel OK about my job. That’s the way to start. Once this statement holds true (the more you focus on feeling OK, the more you’ll feel OK) you can then progress to feeling good about your job.
See which statement most accurately reflects how you or your workers currently feel. Then consider changing the language to one step better and notice the results this produces in only a few weeks:
- I love the work that I do. I’m passionate about it and look forward to coming to work almost most every day.
- Although it’s not exactly a joyride, I take pride in the work that I do and feel that my fellow employees support my efforts.
- I’m not excited about the work that I do every day and believe that when I do produce good results, they are ignored.
- I dislike my work environment and don’t feel good about the work I do every day. I feel stuck because it would be difficult getting a new job right about now.
- I hate my job. I feel that management and my fellow employees dislike their jobs as well and it shows. I’ll quit working here as soon as I find another job.
Whether you’re a motivational speaker, marketing expert, or hypnotist, you’ve stressed the importance of incantation. Fact is, we are our most dominant thoughts. What thoughts are dominating your workplace?
If someone walked into your business, what thoughts would immediately be generated? Where are your incantations, whether related to your employees, clients, or customers? How are you capturing their minds, hearts, and energy? How excited and engaged does the workplace make you feel? How are you drumming in your message? Southwest Airlines has hearts on their planes, on their shirts, in their airports, in their advertisements — and they trade under the name LUV. Tell me that’s not a dominant incantation!
As Al Reese and Jack Trout wrote, “we’re in a battle for the mind.” But not just when it comes to customers and clients. Your employees are exposed to thousands of incantations every day — most of which are not yours. Which ones are dominating your business — those of some third-party marketer or yours? Consider putting your incantations on affinity clothing, large posters, the back of business cards, timesheets, above an employee entrance, at company meetings, wherever you can. You get the idea.
Create incantations at your business!