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Gamification of employee engagement surveys

15 Jun 2015
HR professionals know how vital it is to measure employee engagement and its effect on productivity. This is usually done by an annual employee engagement survey, which although extremely useful for developing actionable plans do have their limitations, which should be recognised.

The data obtained can be limited in value due to the timeliness of the feedback, and only having one occasion a year to garner employee feedback is not usually enough. Using alternative methods to gather this feedback can bring surprising results.

 

What is gamification?

The term ‘gamification’ is widely attributed to Nick Pelling, who is a British games programmer and inventor. He first mentioned the word in his work more than ten years ago, but it didn’t become mainstream until 2010. Gamification is when you take elements from gaming and implement them into non-gaming fields.

The psychology behind gamification is that you can use regular and consistent positive feedback such as points, badges, status, and so on, to build up the employee’s motivation. You could use gaming theory to create an interactive way to engage and/or communicate with employees. A survey by the Aberdeen Group found that organisations who deploy gamification improve engagement by 48% and turnover by 36%.

Gain instant feedback

Employee engagement surveys are key for many organisations who want to understand how their employees feel about their jobs, the business they work for and their bosses. If deployed at the right time, they can also be used to obtain feedback about an upcoming change.

Unfortunately it can take up to three months to collect feedback from 100 employees using traditional email or paper based surveys. This can mean that you are working with out-of-date data and can result in a feedback gap that makes it harder to resolve any issues raised, because of the length of time it has taken to analyse the data. This gap can create a downward spiral of employee discontent.

When you are only doing employee surveys once or twice a year, you may be tempted to ask as many questions as possible to cover all possible bases. The more questions there are, the more employees may be put off by the amount of depth or time needed to answer them. This can result in less than accurate answers being given because attention spans wane and boxes get ticked without real thought.

If you want to gather employee feedback during the year, you won’t necessarily want to wait for the annual survey, especially if it’s many months away. If you are launching a new company structure, changing benefits or simply renovating the toilets, you could learn how employees feel about the changes and gauge their reaction. Utilising new technologies and gamification can be incredibly effective. One example of this could be using a mobile app to gain instant feedback on burning issues.

Push questions to a mobile app

It’s likely that most of your employees have smartphones and chances are they carry them around with them wherever they go. By pushing questions to this app, and giving incentives such as badges and game-style rewards to those answering the questions, employees are able to answer the questions wherever they are and whenever it suits them. This increases the likelihood of a response. In fact, we’ve found that employees are three times more likely to respond to a short survey delivered via an app than they are on email or paper-based surveys. According to Gartner game theory, gamification can dramatically increase participation in HCM processes, and HR teams should apply it to low response activities.

A mobile app could be used by HR in a couple of ways. It could be a standalone way to have employees answer short questions about specific events or it could be used as an extension to existing surveys. For example, if the results of a 360 degree review highlights a specific issue, HR can push out additional questions via the app to investigate it specifically.

Benefits of up-to-the-minute data

Being able to get instant feedback could tackle potential issues before they become a problem, rather than long after. Capturing employee opinion as and when you need to means that HR and internal communications departments can benefit from insight in an instant. This up-to-the-minute data can be taken to the Board to support proposals or substantiate budget requests. The insight can also be used to develop plans to help employees to feel more engaged and reduce dissatisfaction as quickly as possible, improving retention.