It’s About Playing the Game, Not the Prizes

Since Cool Choices gives corporate employees opportunities to win by being more sustainable, we are always interested in other workplace gamification efforts.   A recent piece about games as part of wellness programs caught our attention.  The article showcased several models and talked about how organizers used prizes to generate interest and participation.

In the end, though, it wasn’t the money that drew the workers in.  It was the online camaraderie, and the challenge.  “People wanted to be on the winning team,” says Julie McGovern, Chilton’s vice president of administration and HR.

That is worth repeating:  participation wasn’t about cash prizes.  People wanted a challenge and the camaraderie of facing that challenge together.  Likely some of them wanted the pleasure of prevailing over their peers while others may have simply enjoyed being part of a team.  The lure of prizes may have drawn a few people into the program initially but, once in, folks are motivated by the game, not the prizes.

We see this in our interactions with employees.  People are excited to be part of a bigger effort to do the right thing and they appreciate the ways a game can facilitate recognition of their individual efforts.  Simple tools like leaderboards and player highlights are very motivating.

This is important news for the leaders who worry that games will require big-ticket prizes.  It turns out that playing the game—getting credit for one’s own accomplishments and having an opportunity to cheer on others—is a reward in itself.

And it is not the only reward.  In wellness games, employees get healthier and in sustainability games like ours people report both positive lifestyle changes as well as dollar savings.  And in all of these games, there is an increase in levels of team work, which provides a whole other realm of corporate benefits.

Indeed, when you pause to do the math you realize that the corporate and individual benefits of employee engagement games add up almost as quickly as the environmental benefits.

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