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31. Workplace Motivation


Extrinsic traditional rewards that motivate people include:

  • Pay
  • Bonuses
  • Stock options
  • Praise
  • Promotions
  • Responsibility

These rewards are designed as compensation as opposed to inherent joy, pleasure and engagement of the work. They are something that can be obtained by working (something that you don’t really want to do).

Gamification can intrinsically motivate people to work:

1. Skill development

  • Better skills result in higher pay, promotion or other job opportunities. But learning is also about problem solving and engaging those part of the brain that love to figure out new things. Skill development in the workplace can take advantage of gamification in a way helpful for the employees and also benefit the company.
  • Example: Live Ops, an outsource call center creates virtual call centers by stitching together part time people using an application to act as though they are a virtual part of a call center. It has numerous part-timers, people who are often eager to develop new skills if it can be done in a flexible way. It has built their own gamified site with trophies, badges, feedback metrics about what people are doing, points, but it is geared toward skill development. They want to help people learn how to be better at their job, learn different aspects of the job and how to be effective in a way that will move them up, recognized by the badges and achievements and then potentially help them on the path to success in their careers. This motivator is the opportunity to learn things and skill up.

2. Information

  • Employees do not always know how they are doing. Periodic performance review is far removed from day-to-day work. You get feedback from co-workers and bosses but many employees do not have any sense about the quality of their work and have no ability to take advantage of situations where they are doing a good job.
  • Example: Objective Logistics does gamification, intially targeted at the restaurant industry. They provide a dashboard for restaurants to use for their servers where they can track how the servers are doing. What tip, check size they’re getting and what their performance is. They can then provide feedback to the employees about how they’re doing. There are various metrics including summaries about ranking on the leaderboard and amount earned in extra tips. These provide information to the server and to the company which can use this to target the best shifts to the employees who are doing the best job which motivates the employees to do a better job to get the better work opportunities and also gives them a much more concrete sense of what their performance is. It activates the competitive instinct and the desire to chase the reward but also paints a better picture for the employee, connects very directly what they are doing via feedback to the way that the company treats them.

3. Corporate Citizenship

  • Things that are sometimes done which are not necessarily about the job.
  •  Example: Microsoft’s Language Quality Game where employees review dialogue boxes for Windows localization in different languages voluntarily. Part of it was just the inherent fun of the game, part was competition to beat the other offices. But part of it was a sense that they were doing something good for the company, helping Microsoft make better products by removing bugs and errors. That’s something people who are part of an organization, part of a team, feel some resonance with. They will not work as a volunteer for weeks on end just for the company’s good but they want to take pride in their work and their workplace and they want to be good corporate citizens.

4. Fun

  •  There are opportunities to use fun to achieve direct workplace benefits
  • Example: Face Game at Zappos, an online retailer initially of shoes and now of other clothing-type items that’s part of amazon.com. Zappos is a very fun workplace. They created the Face Game for their employees, which displays a picture of a coworker at random upon log in. You get to say who it is and if you are wrong, it will tell you who the person is and show you his/her profile page. This creates a little fun and helps people get to know their co workers, helps them find out more about the people who work with them, what they do, where they work, what their skills are which can be valuable in terms of promoting better collaboration and teamwork within the organization, all based on leveraging off of fun.

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