Game On

by. Karen Hodgkiss

Have you ever seen teenagers engrossed in playing the online game World of Warcraft? Time ceases to exist as they defeat monsters and achieve quests, accumulating an arsenal of skills to help them become more proficient and tackle increasingly complex challenges. With estimates of over 8 million subscribers, clearly the inventors have done something right.

From traditional games like chess or Scrabble® to smartphone apps like Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga®, the appeal of gaming spans virtually every demographic.  A good game allows a player to analyze their skills and strive for a goal just out of reach, yet attainable with practice. The stretch is not so great the player is anxious and not so easy they are bored, but JUST RIGHT. This results in a state of flow where the player loses sense of time and is in the moment with the game.

Matt Davis, Director of Innovation at the Filene Research Institute, is a thought-leader in the area of “gamification,” defined as applying game thinking and strategies to real situations to engage key audiences and solve problems. Davis is interested in what can be observed from people’s interactions with games and how these insights can be applied to boost employee performance and make financial matters more engaging for credit union members.

Today’s younger employees are conditioned for immediate gratification and feedback through their use of social media, where activity is recognized with “likes” and “comments.” Contrast that with a workplace where performance feedback is usually formal and infrequent. Davis suggests there is an enormous potential for credit unions to boost employee performance through game strategies. One example: when employees complete a certain desired action, they earn points that are tallied on a leader board or are granted an immediate reward. There are countless ways you can adapt tactics from games to keep people engaged with their day-to-day routine and make it fun. Ideally, you’ll develop an employee team that knows what is expected and is motivated to take on challenges and boost their performance to new levels.

continue reading »