Employee engagement is widely recognized as essential to high performance cultures. In fact, research from Gallup reports that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share and enjoy 25-65% less turnover and 37% less absenteeism, among a variety of other benefits. But a recent article by Josh Bersin, drawing from new studies at Deloitte, explains that “while 90 percent of executives understand the importance of employee engagement, fewer than 50 percent understand how to effectively address this issue.”
There are a variety of factors and trends, some old – some new, which influence the degree of engagement currently exhibited by employees within all types of organizations – and there’s no question that contact centers are uniquely challenged by them. One approach that is demonstrating measurable effectiveness in driving employee engagement to greater levels while simultaneously helping contact center organizations meet the unique demands of a modern workforce is gamification.
For those still unsure about how to confront the serious implications of a disengaged workforce – which Gallup suggests costs the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion per year – deliberation over the potential of gamification is long past. It’s time to get in the game.
Perception, investment and record
A November 2012 Gartner press release predicted that “…by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design.” Fortunately, gamification has rapidly advanced, and while the risk of which Gartner warned will not have been eliminated in 2016, the substantial investment by vendors to develop and refine gamification platforms for contact center operations, and the early adopters that have helped to validate their value propositions, make it far less impactful than in 2012, or even 2014. As the demonstrated ROI of successful gamification further multiplies, so too will the momentum behind an already booming trend in adoption of gamification solutions to bolster business culture and results, along with employee loyalty and satisfaction.
A perfect pair
Contact center operations and gamification were meant for each other. Few other business environments bring so many people together to perform similar routines for a common set of business objectives with a similar set of pressures. Employee attendance, morale, disengagement, turnover, and overall performance are unique challenges for contact centers, in which wages and employee skill levels are often low (in many cases, due to very high turnover), and the work itself can be stressful and monotonous. Gamification can help tackle these challenges head-on for the following key reasons:
- The principles of gamification are common to those of traditional performance management. When gamification initiatives are aligned with the organization’s objectives and related performance management strategies, they are much more likely to succeed. Most modern gamification platforms either provide the scorekeeping rubric required to coordinate gamification goals with business performance targets, or can easily integrate with the measurement and assessment systems already in place.
- Gamification can motivate by utilizing a variety of game mechanics to inspire, encourage, accelerate development, and otherwise impact behavior (i.e., leaderboards, competitions, badges, points, levels, challenges, quests, etc.). Gamification design can be simple or complex, social or personal, cerebral or silly and geared to appeal to just about any personality or work style. This is especially important within contact centers where the workforce is comprised of individuals from nearly every generation, personality, and background – and still more so given the unique expectations of Millennials (which Pew Research reports now make up greater than one third of the American workforce).
- Gamification’s impact is easily validated. When adequately integrated with the organization’s performance management systems, verifying and measuring ROI and value on a sequential or year over year basis for each KPI and balanced score is a straightforward process; such analytics are often integrated within the leading contact center gamification platforms. Not every initiative will produce extraordinary results, and some may even fail, but your ability to measure success and improve future results will be based on a financially quantifiable performance record.
Gamification has a record of accomplishment in motivating and engaging employees and improving business results for contact centers across every industry sector. Research and strategic analyst Mind Commerce projects the market for gamification will exceed $10 billion by 2020. Continued advances in technology, broader and refined business applications, and an expanded canon of case studies and testimonials of gamification success will ensure these projections can be achieved.
Whether the greatest challenge within your contact centers involves quality, turnover, attendance, competitive positioning, profitability or something else, a gamification strategy can help by fueling employee engagement, encouraging healthy work and life habits, and accelerating the achievement of higher performance levels year-round.
The availability of proven contact center industry gamification solutions is increasing, and if you’re among the executives who remain undecided or unsure about how to rejuvenate your corporate culture and improve employee engagement, the off-season has ended. It’s time to gear-up, game-up, and win.
Greg Salvato is CEO of contact center employee engagement and performance management software solutions vendor, TouchPoint One.