Looking ahead, bottled-up turnover is likely to occur with more than half of employees in North America planning to look for a new job in 2021 and a quarter of workers planning to quit their jobs outright.
Not surprisingly, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual employee engagement survey reported that “retention/turnover was the top workforce management challenge cited by 47% of HR professionals.” The reasons for this include the cost of turnover, the impacts of turnover on employee performance and the difficulty to retain necessary skills in the organization.
While the historic reasons employees leave a company will remain the same — higher pay, a promotion, more professional development, a career pivot — there is a whole new set of variables on the rise in the hybrid workplace that emerged as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Research published by the Achievers Workforce Institute (registration required) reported that since the pandemic, 46% of respondents feel less connected to their company, 42% say company culture has diminished since the start of the pandemic and just 21% said they are very engaged at work.
Finding ways to refresh and reimagine the trifecta of employee development, employee engagement and employee retention should be a priority if companies want to keep their best and brightest and develop a strong bench of future star performers. Step one is to recognize that employees today crave interaction and instant gratification, which means if you haven’t already, it might be a good time to trade your PowerPoint training presentations for gamified employee engagement.
Simply put, gamification uses game mechanics (points, levels, challenges) to tap into essential human desires (rewards, status, competition) to meet employees where they are while delivering a powerful mix of skills development, culture and camaraderie. Because training is the first thing employees experience in the workplace, it is critical that it sets the stage for the quality of an employee’s long-term experience at a company.
Successful gamification can empower employees to perform their best, foster collaboration, and celebrate and recognize employee achievement. Beyond these benefits, gamification can help create the all-important bond between company and employee. Theory is always nice, but examples are even better:
Popular game shows like JEOPARDY!® or Wheel of Fortune® are great ways to engage a remote workforce who aren’t able to meet up for a Friday after-work happy hour. Topics can vary and be customized to help employees get to know each other better. Throw in some prizes to enhance the experience and the next thing you have is a feel-good start to the weekend for your team.
Who doesn’t love a good trivia game? They can liven up a company meeting, kick off a lunch-and-learn or get a Zoom happy hour off to a good start. Topics such as sports, pop culture and movies can break the ice immediately. Or, consider adding a little customization with personal photos, videos and sound to create laugh-out-loud moments.
Escape The Room
The ever-popular Escape the Room game is the ultimate team challenge that is easy to gamify using online tools like Google Forms and web conferencing platforms like Zoom. Teams must solve a set of challenges that could be based on a training topic or something more creative using riddles, puzzles and challenges. It’s a fun way to engage dozens of people at once and fosters teamwork that lasts long after the game is over.
If you are looking to keep the momentum going after a successful employee bonding event, consider a virtual arcade. Daily challenges, solo play, head-to-head play, team play, missions and learning journeys can keep employees connected, energized and motivated to learn — all key drivers of a healthy and robust corporate culture.
The heroes of this past year’s workplace crisis — workers and technology — have the power to bring about business impact and productivity if and only if they are heard and deployed effectively. If workers say they want to be engaged, then engage them. If they want to feel part of a culture, then invest in your culture. If they want training so they can do their job better, then create training that works. Gamification is the surest way to deliver the resources, tools, training and fun that will continue to bring out the best in these heroes.
First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member