More than fun and games

In recent years, gamification has become a trendy tool that many believe to miraculously solve any communication problems faced by a company.

I do not believe in miracles, but rather work hard (in corporate communications specially) to achieve results. So I used to approach the subject of gamification with mixture of curiosity and caution.

At Skanska Poland, we have used gamification to help with a significant change process: moving five of our companies – each one representing different market segments and products and with extremely different financial standings – from three locations to one common office in Warsaw.

(Main image: To increase cooperation during a restructuring, reward employees with networking activities / Photo: Skansa Poland)

It played out well. To be honest – it played out brilliantly! Based on this, I believe gamification can enable your organisation to facilitate change and manage change communication. Based on our learnings, I present five to do’s to be taken into consideration when deciding if gamification is the right tool in your specific case.

1. Do choose wisely, based on what you aim to achieve

Don’t treat gamification as a self-perpetuating power engine. It is just a tool like webcasts, newsletters, intranet, social media and many others. It is your responsibility to have a plan and know how to use it. Know what strategic goals you want to achieve with it. Start with the question “what do I want to teach them?” and not “what kind of games should we plan?”

In our case, we set the following targets: fully informing people about the move, helping them get acquainted with the new space and office rules, integrating employees representing different units, and elevating satisfaction (employer branding) by living our values.

2. Do make your values the foundation of gamification.

Use the tool to teach people through your values and culture; then, for whatever purpose you use gamification for, it becomes a true showcase of your company.

Through different activities, for both individuals and teams, we built up people engagement in the Warsaw office and throughout the company. We improved employer branding by aligning the gamification tasks with our core values (safety, sustainability, cooperation and client focus).

3. Do prepare well

After following the first “do” you already know which targets stand behind the game. Do not take up gamification for its own sake: it is so much more effective when you give it careful thought. Always ask questions when you plan: exactly what kind of tasks will support your targets and values? When should they be scheduled, and how can the most amount of employees be encouraged to take part in the games, even those predisposed against competitive events? And how should the official kick-off of the games be managed – after all, that’s when most people are likely to enroll? Good preparation is crucial – otherwise it will be just fun and games.

We kept it as consistent as possible – started first communication already two years before the move and gamification was a natural component of the bigger picture.

4. Do have fun

Even though it is not the main goal, fun is what people will expect, right? We learn so much better through games and fun and that is why gamification works when well-planned. So don’t forget to have fun preparing it. Playing is fun, but planning it should be even more fun.

5. Do remember: awards are important

You have your end targets carefully planned; however, most people will take part for the chance to win something that they care for. They will not compete (and so will not fulfil your goals) for the sake of just any old gift. On the other hand, you do not want to give away extensive gifts, as in most companies such gifts do not correspond with values. Offer rewards that are valuable but not expensive, that support your messaging and corporate values.

We very much connected to wellbeing and cooperation and the main team award was a healthy dinner with all presidents of Skanska companies in Warsaw.

Malgorzata Dobosz

Malgorzata Dobosz is head of communications at Skanska Poland. After several years as a television journalist, she switched to public relations and communication, and for the past 13 years she has been contributing to multinational construction and development company Skanska. Malgorzata has worked for all Skanska business units in Poland, including construction, commercial development and residential, managing communication and marketing. Now she serves as head of communications for the construction unit alone.