With the immense rising of the gaming industry, lots of companies start to gamify just about everything. Games for this, games for that, it sometimes looks like everything needs to be gamified. Companies from outside the game industry often envy the market and try to replicate their practices to improve, well at least something. They often refer to this practice as “Gamification,”presumably” making things as referral recruitment, or employee advocacy as entertaining as games, with a ‘big reward’ for the top sharers. At the end of the day, they almost all generally fail miserably but never understand why. The reason why they fail, though, is that these companies are gaining the wrong lessons from the game sector.
Games, most of them, by definition, are an entertaining, otherwise, it would be called work. People play games because they are fun. The problem is most people do not want to share company updates or jobs, otherwise, more of your employees would do this themselves. So hardly anyone thinks this is fun and you don’t make this fun by “gamifying” them.
The real problem
Most companies are not really looking at trying to solve the real problem, that is that most of your people don’t share, not even when there is a possibility to be nr.1 as ‘top sharer’, or get ‘very cool badges’. The real problem is: how to get them to share company updates.
Another issue with gamification or top sharers lists is that it always contains the same names. In every company, or whatever platform you use. It’s always the same small group that is at the top. They are the ones that really like social media, that want to be active on it.
For that small group, gamification might work. For the rest, the biggest group of employees, this will be seen and work as discouragement. That is why you always see a strong peak at the beginning of either referral recruitment and/or employee advocacy, that will die a slow death later on. With only your ‘top sharers’ in the list of people that will remain active.
Many companies get the wrong message from gaming. As said before, people play games because it’s fun. If it isn’t anymore, they will do, or play something else. So, it is almost retarded to think that you can turn something, that isn’t fun, into something that is all of a sudden fun, just by adding a little game element to it.
Success or failure
Successful games are not successful because of manipulation, or other tricks. They are effective because users are entertained. Sometimes these games are about monetization or retention, which will affect gameplay, though in those cases the game normally implodes. But, as long it isn’t fun, no one will come back or even spend money. Even game companies that don’t realize the goal of their game is for the player to have fun will fail, you can’t succeed by tricking players.
The gamification issue
And that is the trouble with gamification; the goal is manipulation and not entertainment. And you’re selling it in a wrong way to your people; here is something that no one likes, but there is a game inside, now it’s fun, you can get a very cool badge if you do this. This is the real reason why gamification kills almost all referral recruitment and employee advocacy programs. If you really want success in these kind of programs, you need to solve the problem.