With the gamification market predicted to grow to $10bn by 2020, ‘gamification’ is the word on everyone’s lips and gaining attention from businesses and organisations worldwide. Whilst a promising strategy, we propose that ‘sociofication’, built on fundamentals of gamification, is a more effective method of engaging participants and gaining more accurate insights. Sociofication can be defined as– ‘Incorporating social and gamification technologies to align and provide team incentives for employees.’

Gamification – The questions we should be asking

Gamification is the application of typical elements of games into other areas of activity, for example surveys. It involves the incorporation of elements such as challenges and scoring, with rewards such as points and badges. Gamification has been championed as a great way to engage, understand and retain participants. Essentially, the approach is used by organisations with the aim of incentivising desired behaviours. Prediction markets are a perfect example of an implemented gamification strategy.

In prediction markets, employees are invited to bet on the company’s success. Take Google. Google engineers have long been able to spend an in-house currency called “Goobles” on server time. If they want to, Google engineers can use their “Goobles” to bet on certain outcomes as part of a company-wide predictions market.

Google must gain some very informative insights from their prediction market. They can see how the company processes information and how information flows. However, there are some issues that arise. The questions we should be asking ourselves are firstly: what do you think of an employee’s attitude to work when they bet against their own company? And secondly how effective really is this?

Engaging ways to motivate employees

Research has shown that monetary incentives could have grave implications and could even go as far as motivating unwanted behaviour. This was demonstrated in an experiment by Uri Gneezy. Nursery staff were growing frustrated because some parents would turn up late to collect their kids, meaning they would have to stay until the parent showed up. Uri wanted to see what would happen if the nurseries started giving fines to parents who arrive late to pick up their child. Six nurseries began handing out financial penalties. However, rather than acting as a deterrent, almost twice as many parents began arriving later! Why? Because the guilt of inconveniencing the day care workers was stronger than the desire to avoid a fine.

This experiment gives a fascinating insight into incentives. It demonstrates that we need to find a way to motivate people using new technologies, whilst keeping the right incentives. The answer is sociofication, offered by new technologies providing better and more engaging ways to socialise employees.

It is vital for employees to be given a voice and to interact with each other and with management. Doing so kills two birds with the same stone because you receive both better engagement and the right kinds of incentives. Within organisations we want people to work as a team and towards a shared goal, rather than competing against one another. Armed with better tools of communication, this can be achieved.

Sociofication - Its role in workplace equality and attitudes

Large businesses benefit from social media like Yammer and Facebook for business. While emerging platforms like Waggl and Voxter are great research and engagement tools for medium sized companies. Some may question whether employees would use such platforms in the right way, whilst many might also be concerned that employees would take a cynical view of social platforms. At Voxter, we researched this and found that employees that have social tech in their workplace are very appreciative of it. It extends even further than that though as not only are they thankful for it, but they said that it creates more equality in the workplace.

In conclusion, we need to take the same elements of gamification used in new technologies, but elevate them into a more social and collaborative context. In doing so, this perpetuates employee engagement, more accurate insights and a positive attitude towards the organisation. Conversely, gamification alone can damage an employee’s outlook on their organisation, is not as engaging and doesn’t necessarily offer the right incentives.

By Ronny Razin, one of the founding Directors of Voxter