Right now, the biggest concern we hear from our clients and users is staffing. The current employment climate is daunting. Many practitioners report that it’s extremely difficult to find great employees, and even harder to retain them. Turnover rates in practices are escalating, and practice owners and managers are often left scrambling. Added to these difficulties, Gallup research reports that as many as 70 percent of employees are showing up to work uncommitted to deliver their best efforts.1 The same report indicates that as many as 18% are actively disengaged.
“These employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and may actually be working against their employers’ interests; they are less productive, are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”Gallup News
It’s no wonder that engagement is such a burning concern in the workplace.
One highly effective idea for reversing this trend in the workplace is a growing interest in gamification, applying challenges and contests to everyday tasks in order to boost productivity. Gamification is a fun, interactive way to work toward a common goal with a reward as motivation. Metrics are especially well suited for gamification. They make planning, executing and tracking these initiatives much simpler.
Gamification engages your team. It’s basic to human nature that we tend to respond positively to challenges. Game-based work models tap that tendency, and leverage it to create big benefits. On average, employees experience a 48% increase in engagement2 with a gamified work environment, and almost 100% say they prefer a workplace that uses gamification.
Gamification increases productivity and performance. The statistics on this are staggering. 90% of employees say they are more productive at work when using gamification. Nationwide, companies that use it are seven times more profitable than those that don’t.2 All that productivity clearly tends to increase revenue.
Gamification creates collaboration. Smart work-game models will establish a more team-centric environment where employees learn to work together and rely on each other.
Getting Started with Gamification
Planning is key with this process. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated, but it does need to be well thought-out. Gamification can fail to get you to your goals for any one of several reasons:
- Poor planning and design
- Lack of creativity
- Lack of meaning
These are the same reasons many initiatives fail, regardless of their format. Employees need to have a clear understanding of the rules of play. Gamification should engage the imagination, and participants should have a strong sense of the contribution they make to the success of the business or the quality of patient outcomes. People want to know that what they do matters, even when they’re “playing games.”
Planning a Successful Work-Game
Set a time frame. Your game should run a minimum of eight weeks, but no longer than one quarter. You want your team to develop work habits they can sustain, and it takes 21 days to create a positive new habit. Less than eight weeks may mean your changes won’t last. Longer than a quarter, and you risk boredom setting in.
Choose a KPI to improve. Use your Key Performance Indicators to uncover areas where practice performance needs improvement. If you find you have lots of KPIs that need work, don’t try to fix them all at once. Choose one for the entire staff to work on, or separate them into department-specific goals. Whichever way you go, make sure you engage the entire team; avoid causing resentment over being left out.
State your goal. Benchmark from the previous eight weeks before starting the new program. Use that baseline to set your target. Remember to make it attainable, even if it’s challenging. We always suggest 5-10% improvement. Whatever your goal is, make sure it is concrete, measurable, and clearly stated to the team.
Equip your team. Enlist the assistance of your vendors, mentors, or inter-team training if available. Make sure that your team has the necessary skills to accomplish the goal. Bonus, you’ll be adding to their workplace value by expanding their professional skillset.
Track Your Progress
Get crafty! Use your creativity (or leverage someone crafty on your team) to make a game board. Add a theme, and create game pieces to represent each team member. For instance, maybe each department has a drink-themed board with margaritas or martinis. Think Monopoly board. Perhaps each team member wants to be represented by their favorite car, mermaid, whatever. Let the playful side of this help carry the game.
Make sure your goal tracker is visible to everyone on the staff. Keep it in the back office, out of the public eye, but placed so that the team can see it frequently during the day. Make sure that someone is responsible for updating the tracker daily, and review the results with the group frequently. Cheer with them, and enjoy the atmosphere of friendly competition that you are creating.
It goes without saying that you want to reward your high performers, but don’t forget to offer encouragement and rewards to the entire team for their success. Again, let your creativity come into play. You may offer gift cards from local businesses, movie tickets, coupons and gift certificates for restaurants, spa services, and so on.
Add a major goal and a major reward. Add a big boost with a larger goal for the year, and follow up your success with a significant prize. Take the team for a special event, like an evening out at the Cirque de Soleil, or a holiday party at a fancy restaurant.
If you’ve generated the performance and productivity you’re hoping for, offering these special rewards should be achievable without financial stress. After all, you’re building the team that is building your business. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them, and give them the rewards they’ve earned.