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TemboSocial and the Strength of Non-Monetary Rewards for Employees

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The following is an Op-Ed by Michael Bertrand, Project Manager and Marketing Associate at TemboSocial

This year gamification will have 20% of Global 2000 organizations playing, and by 2014 this number is expected to rise to 70%. Enterprise gamification takes elements from computer gaming and integrates them into your business to encourage a desired behavior, such as productivity or retention.

Research has continuously shown that the best way to motivate employees is to recognize their achievements. Despite this, it remains an underutilized tool. Successful computer games align personal passion and commitment to task completion. Well-designed games recognize progress, encouraging players to continue to engage and be inspired to meet the next challenge. This is key for the enterprise.  From badges and points, to leaderboards and levels, there are many ways to introduce game elements to the workplace. But gamification is much more than play.

For measurable results it must provide:

Social Recognition: Psychologist Abraham Maslow recognized this as a fundamental human need over 70 years ago, as seen in his paper A Theory of Human Motivation. He concluded that esteem / appreciation / praise / respect are the necessary motivational factors in striving for growth. Game designers get this. Organizations must embrace it.

Performance Feedback: An employee views his or her work as meaningful if there is a sense that progress is being made. They need to know where they stand, what they are doing right, and where they can make improvement. Yearly reviews are not enough. Real-time feedback is key. Gamification can deliver this by acknowledging the small everyday wins.

Two-way Dialogue: Conversation fuels participation. When you give people the opportunity to declare opinions and compare with others, you connect them more deeply to your organization.

Personal Legacy: Gamification recognizes achievements and encourages collaboration. Adding these elements can create a visible scorecard that builds an employee’s profile and reputation.

TemboSocial uses gamification techniques in the form of achievements and awards to encourage participation in The Hive. These design techniques utilize non-monetary social recognition as a way to improve employee engagement. This employee engagement benefits the bottom line in measurable ways, with the right non-monetary social recognition program providing:

  • Improved employee and customer retention
  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased operational costs

Monetary incentives don’t buy workplace happiness.  The age old methodology of motivation, using monetary ‘carrots’ – such as perks or financial remuneration – has a weak exchange rate with today’s knowledge worker, for whom the most valuable currency is recognition.  As the Harvard Business Review explains: “Though necessary, these extrinsic motivators [perks, promotion, pay] don’t necessarily excite people to work smarter or harder. Instead, they prompt employees to do only the minimum required to get that next raise or job title.”  Incentives create a culture of entitlement, a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ exchange. They can be a deterrent, as cited in studies by MIT, the London School of Economics, and Carnegie Mellon – all of which note that it is intrinsic motivators that yield positive returns.

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