New research on employee engagement examines the relationships among motivation, money, and recognition, and finds, not entirely surprisingly, that how you feel is often more important than what you earn. A key finding was that 70% of survey respondents reported their most meaningful recognition “had no dollar value.”

Anyone who has worked a day in their life understands a thing or two about what motivates them to do a better job. While people do work for their salaries, studies have proven that what motivates top performance from a workforce has little to do with cash compensation and other tangible rewards.

This spring Badgeville partnered with employee motivation research firm Make Their Day to survey over 1,200 workers in finding out what makes employees do their best work. The study found that employees most value Recognition, Opportunities for Growth, and a Fun Work Environment to keep them happy, engaged, and productive. Gamification for business offers a scalable solution for contemporary companies seeking to create positive work environments.

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Key Findings:

No-Dollar Rewards and Recognition Are the Most Valuable Motivators

The Type of Praise and Source Matters

Keep Employees Happy with a Fun Work Environment

After our Power Proactive Loyalty with Gamification webinar (watch the recording), we featured answers to some questions on our blog that we couldn't get to during the event itself. Here's the answer another to another question from the webinar. Here, Restaurant.com VP of Customer Retention Brent Carter discusses the metrics they use to prove that gamification has been effective in engaging their loyal users.

Q: How do you prove, and with what metrics, that gamification has worked, to a business who has signed up with you?

A (Brent Carter): We have a couple main metrics we focus on: active loyalty users and monthly loyalty repeat visits. The businesses who participate in our programs care deeply about the quality of the audience, how active they are and how often they come back. If diners have a positive experience with our site and with our business partners they are inherently more attractive to both parties. For example, we offer access to an online portal for our restaurant partners and they can review feedback from our diners on their specific dining experience at their restaurant. This is valuable insight for the restaurants to continually improve their experience. Gamification has increased the engagement of our loyalty users, thus increasing the downstream effects for our partners.

It goes like this: satisfied customers begin with satisfied employees. We’ve known that for decades. What we didn’t always know was that game design techniques — when properly integrated into a reward and recognition program — could lead to increased employee satisfaction.

If you think about the concept of reward and recognition programs, they’re already gamified to a degree. Employees perform behaviors, those behaviors are reinforced by members of a community, and points can be earned for achievements.

It’s simple. Perhaps too simple.

The truth is, it’s not just about rewarding behaviors. It’s about connecting employees to a purpose and creating a clear path to success. Success not only for the business, but for the individual as well. To successfully motivate and drive behavior, programs need to offer unique goals and objectives to individuals and provide feedback to increase the effectiveness of each one. Equally important is an attention strategy that is capable of onboarding and sustaining participation throughout the life of the program.

As a provider of reward and recognition programs to Fortune 500 companies, Maritz Motivation Solutions has always offered opportunities for recognition to our employees. But this year we made a special effort to update and upgrade our programs. And we used gamification to support this strategy.

a screenshot from we.com

Our online recognition platform called we.com incorporates peer-to-peer, manager-to-team, and social recognition capabilities. The system also accounts for top performing team and individual recognition, employee events and communications, and employee recognition training. An umbrella theme of Motivation Nation ties all the initiatives together and recalls the company mission: to make business better by understanding and motivating people.

Michelle Pokorny, solution leader for employee engagement and recognition, shared some of the results of the revamped and gamified we.com program in a presentation at the RPI Annual Meeting. Results included doubled participation and an increase of 115% in recognitions given year-over-year. Maritz Motivation Solutions also saw significant improvements in employee engagement scores after updating and relaunching recognition for its team members in the last year. Here’s how we did it:

  1. Through our work with The Maritz Institute, we’ve uncovered solid evidence which suggests that people are motivated by opportunities to earn status and achieve mastery just as they are by opportunities to earn rewards of economic value. We’re leveraging the Badgeville platform in conjunction with our own to deliver a reward experience that speaks to each of these drives.
  2. A critical element of goal-setting is the ability to view one’s progression. It is crucial that this is not overlooked in a motivation program. Programs that lack progress indicators risk causing confusion or even frustration for program users. By integrating Badgeville's platform into our own, we are able to support dynamic, flexible, and visually interesting expertise tracks and progress indicators in real time.
  3. We now support additional opportunities for choice by adding visual tracks toward achievements. By giving program users choice on which goals to pursue — and in what order — we’re creating personal meaning at the same time.

Creating meaningful recognition and reward experiences for our employees has led to clear business results not only for Maritz Motivation Solutions, but for our clients too. We realize that people don’t have relationships with brands. People have relationships with people. We consider ourselves leaders in the business of motivating people and we are excited that we can bring these results not only to our own organization, but to our clients as well.

Nicki Powers is an Engagement Strategist with Maritz Motivation Solutions, a Badgeville partner.

Gamification experts provided examples of how they used the techniques at a very engaging Customer Experience Professionals (CXP) event in Manhattan recently. Corinne Sklar, CMO at Bluewolf and Kris Duggan at Badgeville spoke on the topic.

A wave of new travel programs and promotions are using game theory to win over customers, particularly those under 30 (so-called millennials). Today online tour operators like Expedia are incorporating avatars and trivia contests into the browsing and booking process. It may sound like play, but it’s part of a broader business trend known as gamification.

In the latest edition of Digital Transformation Review, Capgemini highlights gamification as an "enabler for digital transformation." "We believe that enterprise gamification, when designed and implemented effectively," they write, "can help accelerate digital transformation by driving employee engagement and supporting change management."digital_transformation_review

In addition to pointing to Gartner research showing that 40% of global 2000 organizations are expected to have at least one gamified application by 2014, Capgemini also relates several examples of how gamification has driven recent organizational success, from an insurance company that saved $18 million per year using gamification to solicit ideas on process improvement from employees to successful implementations at EMCAutodesk and Samsung.

Badgeville Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Kris Duggan also provides key insights to readers on how leaders across organizations, from sales to HR and beyond, can motivate the valuable behaviors that foster employee collaboration and drive tool adoption. And the authors give strategic recommendations to ensure that a gamification program drives the right behaviors and continues to do so, through a combination of clear goals, continuous measurement, proactive management and an iterative approach.

While the past few years have seen gamification rise to prominence for its ability to drive customer loyalty and consumer engagement, the Digital Transformation Review is an important reminder of gamification's power to measure and motivate behavior within organizations, as well. The problem of disengagement is not limited to external users only. Gallup reports that 70% of American workers aren't engaged with their jobs; companies see adoption rates of just 50% for enterprise applications. In fact, evidence shows enormous IT investment levels have overwhelmed internal users, resulting in productivity losses averaging 17%.

The need for internal change, then, is clear on multiple fronts. We are glad Capgemini has highlighted strategies enterprises can use to drive it effectively with gamification.

Our recent Badgeville webinar, featuring guests Restaurant.com VP of Customer Retention Brent Carter and Forrester analyst Emily Collins, centered on transforming loyalty programs to engage customers beyond the transaction. The focus was on digital and social behaviors that show customers' affinity for your brand, product or service. (Watch the recording here.) Let's quickly recap some of the key points and answer audience questions we didn't get to during the event itself. Recap: Why the Old Way is Fading and What's in the Future As Emily detailed, today’s loyalty programs are siloed and stuck in a rut of rewarding for one behavior: purchasing. Before the web, this approach made more sense because transactions were one of the only behaviors companies could track, outside of phone calls and mail-in rebates. As she explained, this can become self-defeating because of the transactional relationship it creates. A customer buys nine sandwiches, he gets the tenth free. Another flies 30,000 miles, she gets a free flight. Over time, the transparency of such a program can hinder long-term engagement, because as customers become conscious of needing to spend a specific amount of money in order to get something back, they realize you’ve set a dollar value on their overall worth to you. (If a sandwich is priced at $6, they need to spend $54 on nine sandwiches to get the tenth free — which is, still, only worth $6.) Even companies that launch without the burden of legacy loyalty programs still subscribe to this model. Your Questions and Their Answers We had a great Q&A at the end of the presentation but ran out of time for it all! Here are some additional questions we couldn't get to during the event, along with answers… Q: I imagine this won't work for all industries; for example, I can't see this working for an airline. Can you speak to that? A: Gamification can work for almost any industry. It all depends on the context of the environment and the intelligence behind the design. From a design perspective, you can allow gamification to complement, rather than usurp or disrupt, your current loyalty program. For example, on an airline, you have your traditional mileage or status points. With gamification, you could add another point or reward bucket that focuses on engagement with another touchpoint, such as your mobile app or social media channels. As people check in to different cities, perhaps they earn could points and achievements related not to miles or upgrades but to special promotions and partnerships the airline has in that specific area. Or you could allow the gamification-based incentives to only account for a fraction of the traditional behaviors (such as purchasing plane tickets). Q: I can see how this might be effective at the beginning, but I could see the risk of customers losing interest as they do not receive tangible rewards. Do you have proof of LONG TERM loyalty for customers? A: Great question. Any gamification program is an ongoing, iterative process. Many of our customers are already nearly two years into their programs. Samsung, Bell Media, EMC and other major names have sustained their modern engagement programs by frequently listening to the rich behavior data in The Behavior Platform, and configuring new engagement mechanics to keep the experience fresh and engaging. That’s why many customers take advantage of our Behavior Lab and services. Q: To build on the internal sell dilemma, is there any industry data that would demonstrate tangible value — either increased revenue or improved customer satisfaction? A: Badgeville customers have driven massive increases in acquisition, retention and conversions, so it just depends on where you want to start and what’s most important to you. In the loyalty use cases, we often look at what key performance indicators you might have in place, such as repeat purchases or lifetime value. Then, we look to see what behaviors might drive in support of those KPIs. One I like is customer advocacy — looking at your most hyper-engaged customers. According to Deloitte, those customers can drive 2x as much revenue as a normal customer. Check out our customer case studies to see some of these in action. Q: Are there tools we can use to implement gamification, or does it need to be custom-built by engineers? A: There are absolutely tools! The Behavior Platform allows you to identify, measure, and reward user behavior with a vast set of game, reputation and social mechanics put at the hands of the business user. For gamified visualizations, we can integrate with your site or app using lightweight client-side languages, such as JavaScript, that weave seamlessly into the user experience. Q: I am VERY intrigued with how we can use this in our golf course. Our management company manages over 25 different golf courses on the West Coast and are always looking to blaze the trail in our industry. Many Badgevillagers (including our CEO) are golfers. We’d move mountains to help this loyalty use case! We’ll reach out to you right away.

Kyoto, Japan and Redwood City, Calif. –  May 23, 2013 – Yumemi, Japan’s market and technology leader in mobile commerce, today announced a partnership with Badgeville, the #1 gamification platform, to power Sprocket, its new engagement offering for marketers. Sprocket complements Yumemi’s suite of existing marketing solutions for web, mobile, and ecommerce, used by some of the top brands in Japan.

Industry-leading brands using Sprocket to drive customer loyalty and engagement include Nestlé Japan, Nippon Television, and Dr.Ci:Labo.

“Yumemi’s Sprocket, powered by Badgeville, is the clear gamification leader in Japan. Compared to other customer engagement offerings, Sprocket far exceeds in gamification features, widgets and program design,” said Rikako Ibi, Unit Manager, Digital Media Development Unit at Nestle Japan Ltd. “Sprocket was very easy to embed into our web and mobile sites. It is helping us achieve our business goals, incentivizing users to view more pages across our sites.”

Sprocket uses Badgeville’s gamification foundation – including rewards, reputation, social context and behavior analytics – to drive customer loyalty and engagement, helping companies grow their bottom line and understand their audience. Sprocket is enabled by Badgeville Embed, a powerful management portal for software providers with multiple clients to easily design, deploy, and optimize thousands of client gamification deployments and embedded solutions.

“To advance Yumemi’s gamification thought leadership throughout all of Asia, we wanted to partner with the clear world leader. With Badgeville already serving millions of users globally, we knew their experience would be unparalleled to providing a world-class technology solution,” said Koji Fukada, CEO of Yumemi. “With Badgeville Embed, we are able to provide a white-labeled, customized solution that fits the needs of our customers.”

Sprocket is delivered as part of Yumemi’s marketing suite designed to help businesses drive online-to-offline loyalty, commerce, and engaging experiences. Sprocket’s integrations with Yumemi’s portfolio of mobile marketing (SP-RUSH), email marketing (mobm@il), and commerce (Mercury) solutions tying unique behavior data to Yumemi’s analytics tools for a complete picture of the customer. It is the first specialized gamification platform wrapped in a native Japanese experience.

“Yumemi is a clear thought leader in driving customer engagement for today’s leading brands,” said Anthony Nemelka, VP of Business Development at Badgeville. “The innovative work the Yumemi team has launched in Sprocket, powered by Badgeville, offers a glimpse into the future of global digital brand loyalty.”

Badgeville’s Behavior Platform enables companies to increase customer loyalty and employee productivity. The company is recognized as a world leader in gamification, with hundreds of customers across the globe, including numerous Global 2000 organizations. Badgeville’s platform enables businesses to easily measure and influence behavior across their entire digital ecosystem of websites and applications.

About Yumemi, Inc.
Yumemi Inc. is Japan’s market and technology leader in mobile ecommerce since its foundation in 2000. Having expanded into innovative commerce facilitating businesses, Yumemi is the gamification pioneer in Japan, providing its gamified CRM technology to many large brick-and-mortar enterprises in Japan such as McDonalds, ANA, Isetan, and AEON.

About Badgeville
Badgeville, the #1 gamification and behavior management platform, enables companies in every industry to increase high-value user behavior. World-class businesses in more than 20 countries use Badgeville’s Behavior Platform to increase customer loyalty, user engagement, and employee performance across an organization’s websites, mobile apps and enterprise applications. With over 200 customers, Badgeville brings Game Mechanics, Reputation Mechanics, and Social Mechanics to industry leaders and innovators including Deloitte, EMC, Oracle, Citrix, Autodesk, Bell Media, NBC, Universal Music, VMware, and more. Founded in 2010, Badgeville is based in Redwood City, Calif., and has offices in New York and Europe. (To learn more follow @Badgeville or visit www.badgeville.com)