Leveraging gamification to uphold meritocracy

Which is a bigger challenge – improving the performance of the lowest performers in your workforce or keeping the highest performers motivated enough to keep improving their output? This question is not specific to any particular industry. It is relevant to any enterprise with a workforce; especially organizations that are rapidly growing or those that have attained a level of scale which they would like to sustain through continued growth.

I believe that the bigger challenge is keeping the highest performers motivated or even more challenging, is retaining them to accelerate the growth path of the entire organization. Generally, the highest performers are motivated by meritocracy where individual contributions are recognized and rewarded. It is also important for one high performer to know that the nearest peer is being recognized and rewarded purely on performance rather than on perception, years of tenure or a better relationship with their superiors. One of the examples of this phenomenon is seen in the World of Sport where clubs or teams offer higher tier or value of contracts to their best performing players. This reward and recognition to the best performing players not only motivates the best performing players to keep improving their performance so that they can sustain their contracts but it also creates an aspiration for the up and coming players to perform well enough to reach the highest tier of contracts.

Why are we not able to effectively execute on the principles of meritocracy in growing enterprises or in enterprises which have already grown substantially? The problem is of scale. As enterprises scale, they are no longer the small community of individuals where achievements are easily visible and therefore become celebrated and rewarded. So, how do we automate or scale meritocracy when companies become bigger. The key to success of meritocracy resulting in a high achieving workforce is objective measurement of achievement and visibility of the measured outcomes to the entire workforce. Gamification achieved through implementation of the right technology platforms manages to achieve both automated measurement of achievement and transparency to make the achievements visible across a wide community.

We always wonder why the most insipid games on social media become so successful. It is often because these games give players opportunity to compete to the best of abilities and also see themselves on a publically visible leaderboard. The success of these games on social media re-emphasizes the case for gamification – measurement of achievement and visibility of achievement on an equal platform irrespective of any parameters such as gender, age, college degree or anything else. Just pure performance! This drives millions of people to participate, achieve and succeed.

To derive the maximum benefit from gamification, enterprises need to tie business outcomes to key aspects of employee performance. For example, if a company’s primary business objective is customer delight based on services provided by the call centre, then the performance of the call centre employees will be gamified. There are key measurable outcomes of employee performance in this area which can be gamified like – upsell/cross-sell revenue, average handling time, first call resolution time, short customer feedback mechanism etc. Based on these parameters, call centre employees can be recognized on leaderboards, badges can be assigned for key achievements and rewards can be distributed to employees instantaneously rather than wait for the next performance appraisal cycle. The performance appraisal cycle will then recognize employees who are consistently performing at the highest level – the personnel who have achieved the most badges in the gamified environment. This would also achieve higher retention rates among top performers, increasing their motivation and therefore direct impact on the enterprise’s customers. True application of meritocracy where measurable outcomes are transparently rewarded creates a culture of performance which will yield superior results for the organization. Gamification, leveraging the right technology enables automated measurement of performance and transparent recognition as well.

In this digital era, where technology enablers are available widely, gamification is not a pipe-dream and it is there to stay. Enterprises need to actively leverage gamification to recognize and reward meritocracy resulting in a highly motivated workforce who will drive superior business outcomes.