Most businesses have been forced to shift to remote work for most — if not all — of their company’s operations. Even though working from home has been somewhat normal in the technology world for a while, things have evolved based on current times. Things such as travel or on-site visits were few and far between, but they were a nice change to break up the monotony of working from home.
If you are not used to working from home, it can start as a nice benefit. Most employees enjoy their new freedom and the luxury of not having to commute to the office. However, as the weeks, months and quarters go by, it can start getting lonely, and I’ve found that employees can experience a lack of motivation. Based on this, strong technology leaders need to implement new ways to keep their teams motivated, and gamification is one of the best strategies for this.
Most people have heard the term “gamification,” but very few know either exactly what it is or how to apply it to their organization. Gamification involves taking the essence of games and applying it to real-world processes inside an organization. Often, organizations award scores or points with gamification to give employees immediate feedback — as well as gratification or a feeling of accomplishment.
Nick Pelling coined the term “gamification” around 2003. By 2011, it officially became a buzzword when Gartner added it to its Hype Cycle list. After that, gamification started to hit the mainstream. Now, in 2020, gamification has grown up.
As I explained, gamification is not new, but very few companies I know of put it into practice. My advice to technology leaders is to break down their teams, functional areas and regular cadences and come up with the five key skills that you are looking for on your teams.
For example, for software programmers, these key skills may include continuous learning and obtaining additional certifications, time management, proficiency with their key programming languages, and problem-solving skills.
For sales teams, these key skills may be business development, negotiations, advancing their technical knowledge, time management and networking.
In order to make a gamification challenge for these roles, I am a big fan of using a design-thinking approach where you involve all parties and functional areas as part of the workshop. This includes executives, managers, employees, and sometimes even accounting and finance. This solution-based approach to solving problems is extremely useful for tackling complex issues and having all levels of your organization involved in creating processes and solving challenges. Using this type of process often breaks down barriers between teams, employees and executives and brings a new level of motivation and commitment to everyone’s work.
Some other key tips to keep your team motivated while working remotely include:
• Focus on video calls (i.e., Zoom, Teams, etc.) versus nonvideo calls. Make sure you teach your teams proper video call etiquette, such as proper dress, making eye contact with the camera and being personable, as if you were at an in-person meeting.
• Do not have long, drawn-out meetings. Try to limit meetings to 30 minutes. Now more than ever, meetings that last 60 minutes or longer are difficult and can cause you to lose the attention and motivation of your team.
Here are some good places to put this into action in your organization:
Employee referrals through gamification:
Do not only reward employees for referring qualified people; make a contest out of it, and have quarterly or yearly “grand prizes.”
The employee onboarding process:
Many times this involves numerous training modules and classes about the organization. Now that everything is remote, most employees can take these online at their own pace. Gamifying this process can help new employees feel more connected and excited about joining your company.
Utilizing existing software:
There are certainly many different software packages you can purchase to help you implement gamification in your organization. However, some of the tools you may already use, such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Slack, have boards, channels and add-ons that could be used for gamification.
Tracking personal health goals:
Have contests for employees to motivate them to get the most “steps” in a month or a quarter. This can engage employees emotionally and motivate them to stay healthy.
I always suggest that leaders use online anonymous surveys through which employees can submit their thoughts and input. When employees know that these are anonymous, you are more likely to get honest and useful input that can truly help your organization.
Times are tough, and the remote model is likely here to stay. As a leader, you need to rise above your competitors and make sure your team is motivated and productive, and that they enjoy their jobs. To stay driven, employees need a sense of value and purpose. Implementing gamification, where you create personalized challenges, weekly wins, and progressing game narratives that chart a clear course to success and development, can be a key factor for growing your company succed in this remote work environment.