Gamification: the game-changer in cultural change


“As from today, we’re going to do things completely differently!” Sounds good, but how can you get your staff to believe it too? How can you ensure that they make your new values their own? By making a game of it. Because a new way of thinking can be learned most easily by doing business that way. In short, by doing. That’s the thought behind gamification. And it works more or less by itself.

‘The application of typical elements of game playing and technique to a non-gaming environment’ is the definition of gamification. In other words, you use the theory of play and apply it to real life. And it works – for everything from learning new skills to making new values your own.

Take an insurance company, for instance. Until recently, the aim was to sell as many insurance policies as possible. It was important to achieve more turnover: doing so was rewarded, so the staff did business on that basis. And it resulted in the consequences that could be expected: customers were saddled with all sorts of unnecessary insurance policies. When these same customers became aware of this, trust in the company disappeared. It was therefore time for a cultural change that involved other core values. From now on, it would be no longer a matter of turnover but rather of prioritising the customer and doing business with integrity. Such a drastic change demands a new way of thinking and new behaviour.

Imagine, for example, that an advisor has sold a customer 5 insurance policies. The 5th one was actually superfluous, because the risk had already been covered by another policy. According to the previous company values, the advisor would have done things very well – after all, the maximum turnover had been achieved. However, the new value – integrity – demands that this advisor should contact the customer with the advice to terminate the policy. Of course, no member of staff would ever do so of their own accord.

After all, they are used to selling insurance policies, not terminating them! So how can you get your staff to value integrity more highly than turnover? And to ensure that they do business according to the new norm from now on? Gamification can provide the answer.

Missions, tasks and points

At House of Performance, we employ gamification more and more in order to translate something as abstract as ‘new values’ into the workplace in a very practical way. We think up a real game with points, missions, losers and winners. The crux is that your new behaviours – the ones that belong to the new values – are rewarded within the game.

At the insurance company, a mission could be: ‘Go through 10 customer portfolios, assess the various policies on added value to the client, and share your findings with your team.’ During the game, the player is rewarded for sharing their insights. This may be the first step in creating awareness, not only in the individual concerned but also in the colleagues with whom the insights are shared. An employee who then calls a customer with the advice to terminate a policy, fulfils a task that earns them extra points. Within the game, colleagues can assess one another and hand out points via an app or web portal. They can also compete against other teams.

In this way, the game challenges members of staff to make the new value and its accompanying behaviour their own, and also to share their experiences and successes.

Huge impact

Here’s another example. In the financial sector, integrity may mean not (or no longer) selling products that the customer doesn’t understand. You’ve guessed it: this can also be learned by using a game. For example, you could devise a competition in which sales people have to explain the product – including all its pros and cons – in language that you would use when speaking to very young children. A jury (for example made up of colleagues, customers, and the customers’ children) then decides who did it best. A simple type of game like this can have an enormous impact. The possibilities are endless.

By using gamification as a tool in cultural change, you can achieve a number of goals:

  • Members of staff learn to see the connection between a new value and new behaviour;
  • They share their insights, thereby feeding dialogue within the organisation;
  • Employees also learn new skills, such as assessing a portfolio or explaining a complex product in an understandable way;
  • The new value comes to life within the organisation.

Gamification is a game-changer for people making cultural changes

We’re still very much at the dawn of the gamification age as far as consultancy is concerned. However, our initial experiences in using it have convinced us at House of Performance that we are dealing with a game-changer for the consultancy world. The same is true with regard to cultural change. Gamification is not only effective, but also makes change more fun, is totally up to date and uses the latest technologies.
I’ll repeat my words: “Gamification makes change fun.”

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About the author

I believe it's always possible to do things better: for ourselves, for a colleague or customer, and for the world around us. That's where I want to make my contribution. What's more, we should have fun and enjoy life. After all, "Life is too short to drink bad wine".

Go to Arjon van Lieshout
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