Mumbai: About four months ago, helping a colleague out or going above and beyond the call of duty only earned Sukrit Sarkar, 24, a pat on the back. Now, the associate product manager at HR platform Springworks earns points every time he does something to help a team member. Sarkar had the most points, 300, until another colleague overtook him on the leaderboard last week.
Appreciation is fuel in any organization, but while working from home, it’s often easy to miss thanking that one team member who goes the extra mile. Companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Goodera as well as startups like Springworks have turned to gamification to induct new employees, motivate existing ones, and run training modules remotely during the covid-19 pandemic. Gamification encourages healthy competition, and the immediate incentives range from gift vouchers to virtual one-on-ones with the CEO for racking up a certain number of ‘karma points’.
“When you work from home, other people on the team don’t know what you’re doing. And it’s nice when your teammates recognize your contribution," says Sarkar. “In the physical office, we’d chat or congratulate one another. That was missing."
Bengaluru-based Springworks built a gamified peer-to-peer recognition platform called Springengage in late April after its staff moved to working remotely. ‘Kudos’ (appreciation and gratitude for help) from a fellow employee earns the person 10 points, while a ‘shoutout’ (when someone goes beyond his or her role or does something that helps the company) brings in 100 points. The scores are displayed on a leaderboard, which creates a healthy competition.
“It has helped me keep motivated during these times. It has made us more curious about each other’s work. If someone gets a kudos or a shoutout, I want to know how the person solved the problem," says Sarkar. Recently, he redeemed half his points for a ₹500 Amazon voucher to buy a book that was long on his wishlist.
Game-based activities are also helping companies induct new hires and interns, all of whom are rejoining work remotely now. For the first time in its history, Procter & Gamble India inducted 90 interns into a two-month stint virtually this year. To ensure learning and collaboration was engaging and interactive, a gamified module was created on its app. As the interns completed mandatory and optional training courses on the app, answered quizzes and challenges, they accumulated points. This was tallied on a leaderboard on the app with the top scorers getting gift hampers.
“We wanted to innovate and truly translate our on-ground ‘GetIn’ onboarding programme to a fully virtual experience. Gamifying the experience with deliberately planned touch-points increased the overall participation and engagement on the app. This also created a sense of community, drove engagement and motivated interns," says PM Srinivas, head, HR, India sub-continent, Procter & Gamble.
At Goodera, gamification has worked to get its young staff to interact again, and ease work stress. Over the last few months, the tech company working in the space of CSR has rolled out a virtual volunteering facility. While employees met all their deadlines, moral seemed to be flagging during the lockdown. So, founder Abhishek Humbad introduced virtual volunteering for his team. But it really took off when employees could earn ‘karma points’ for individual and team effort, social impact of the voluntary work and more. The points, which reflect on a leaderboard on Goodera’s internal platform, earn employees gifts, ecommerce vouchers or a virtual one-on-one meeting with the CEO. “People notice what others are doing, and it also nudges them to do more," says Humbad.
Webinars and informal Zoom meet-ups are losing novelty. “Gamified content gives a sense of micro achievement, which makes people feel good," says Arijit Lahiri, co-founder, QuoDeck Technologies. The Mumbai-based game learning app creator has seen its turnover double since the start of the pandemic, he says, adding that clients are requesting casual games to fit into a storytelling format.
Rajib Chowdhury, founder, TGC Technologies, which helps companies create gamified activities, however, says companies should not get swept away by gamification and ignore other aspects of deeper employee engagement. “Companies have to be clear about what they want to achieve from the whole exercise. Besides uplifting morale, companies need to focus on creating purpose as well," he says.