Using Gamification to Improve Employee Performance
Today’s utility fleets have a powerful tool at their disposal, and it’s one that nearly everybody already carries with them: mobile apps that run on cellphones and tablets.
By tying new apps into existing fleet and work order management systems, fleet managers can help employees improve their execution of day-to-day tasks through use of their mobile devices. This article will take a look at exactly how today’s utility fleets can use gamification to coach and improve worker performance in real time, and why utility fleet managers should consider engaging with gamification to drive a more satisfied, efficient and safe workforce.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a context that is typically not game-oriented. It is used by software companies to build business applications that increase engagement and participation while accelerating learning. Gamification leverages our human nature to compete with ourselves and others, with the objective of encouraging teams to achieve company-wide goals and – in the fleet world – deliver greater safety, productivity and compliance. To accomplish this, the apps provide real-time data to users so they can track and eventually improve their performance.
So, how can you integrate gamification into your organization? There are three phases you must complete: establishing your mission, aligning objectives with your mission and deployment.
Establishing Your Mission
While your crews may be a subset of a larger business, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have their own mission that aligns and supports the overall corporate mission. Once the mission is established, it’s time to break it down into individual objectives that support the mission. For example, the mission may be to operate the safest utility fleet in your region, so the objectives may include reducing speeding incidents, hours-of-service violations and vehicle idle time.
Measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) should be created based on the established objectives. Make sure they are as specific as possible. No sport would ever achieve popularity if the goal was unclear to players. Regardless of what your objectives are – increasing productivity, decreasing fuel costs or improving the safety of your crews – the secret to achieving them is to keep them SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
The next step is to review your objectives to ensure they align with business operations. For instance, if your company puts working as quickly as possible first and safety second, then setting an objective to reduce speeding won’t align with the mission. Get your company influencers – typically managers and supervisors – involved to review objectives and ensure they align with operations.
It’s important that managers are on board with the new objectives; as leaders, they will play an important role in influencing others and working toward a successful outcome.
After reviewing and refining your objectives and aligning them with your mission, you’re ready for the deployment phase. This phase should go relatively smoothly if you correctly execute the first two phases. The size of your organization will determine the scale of your deployment planning.
In the case of rolling out the use of an app such as Telogis Coach, which provides proactive driver coaching with gamification, smaller utilities may only need brief training. This would include a review of a quick-start guide that explains how the app works, as well as instructions about how to download, install and log in to the app. For larger utility organizations, a more tailored implementation would be beneficial.
But don’t be fooled – deployment involves more than merely instructing your employees to install the gamification app and leaving them to it. For the game element to be most effective, it needs to be refereed. This means determining how long a game will last, monitoring results and celebrating wins.
Employees will soon tire of a game with no end in sight, so set a length of time and make them aware of it. A 90-day game period is most common for achieving fleet KPIs.
To monitor results, you will need a scoreboard to help reinforce the KPIs so drivers know what they are trying to achieve. Gamification apps use predetermined metrics to generate a score, which an employee can access to see how he or she performed against his or her peers. A utility fleet manager can also compare employee scores. The ability to view these scores – and, more importantly, the ability to review the direct correlation between what an employee is doing and how it is impacting the operation – presents an opportunity to improve employee behavior, which is a direct intention of gamification apps. Fleet managers can also use these apps to review the types and frequencies of training content being accessed. By comparing scorecards and training content metrics to fleet’s rates of accidents, lost-time injuries and productivity, managers can draw correlations between what’s working in terms of meeting objectives – and what isn’t.
And finally, celebrate employee wins. You don’t need to do cartwheels in the office every time an employee achieves a perfect score, but there should be recognition and reward. In most cases, the size of the reward isn’t important; it’s about making sure the employee knows you are aware of his or her accomplishment, and that it means something to you and the company.
Done right, implementing gamification into your work can be much more than a passing fad. The data derived can be a powerful force for change in your organization, and you’ll have employees who feel more engaged, recognized for good performance and motivated to do their best.
About the Author: Tim Taylor is chief customer success officer for Telogis (www.telogis.com).