In this service-driven industry, employees at the front lines are a hotel’s number-one brand ambassadors; they can make or break a guest’s experience. Keeping them engaged, well-trained, and motivated to deliver a rewarding guest service experience is critical to a brand’s success. How can hoteliers accomplish this? Make it a game.
Gamification has proven to be one of the most effective ways to engage and motivate employees. It involves taking the same techniques that game designers use to engage players and applying them to non-game activities, such as work. The result is a truly engaged staff, excited to come to work and motivated to perform.
Here are six steps to create and implement a winning gamification plan.
Step 1: Create the Environment
Establish an environment of healthy competition where stakes are measured, rewards are earned, and everyone is driven toward a common goal. Healthy competition also has the added benefit of creating a buzz around strategic initiatives, keeping teams thinking and talking (positively) about work.
Step 2: Gain Buy-In
The most effective gamification strategies involve soliciting input from the people who will be playing the game. This also promotes ownership within the team to make the game successful. A survey of by TalentLMS found that the vast majority of respondents were in favor of point systems, multiple difficulty levels, real-time performance feedback, online learning, and leaderboards that allowed them to compete with colleagues.
Step 3: Create the Game
Gamification is not only about contests—it’s also about applying game-design elements and principles in non-game contexts. These three techniques will turn a temporary bump in numbers into sustainable success:
- Keep it simple. The concept, the game itself, and the goal of the game should be easy to explain and understand.
- Make it voluntary. Forcing someone to participate will only increase his or her level of disengagement.
- Keep an eye on the prize. Set an attainable and measurable goal.
Step 4: Keep a Scoreboard
Engage your team by reporting if they are winning or losing. The keys to an effective scoreboard include:
- Visibility to the team. The team is the organization—from the c-suite to middle managers to the frontline. You want your scoreboard to be quickly accessible and easily viewed, with the ability to update it daily.
- Focus on the base metrics that impact the overall numbers. For example, if you are measuring revenue, is there a volume component that your frontline cannot control? If so, move to a more accurate measurement, such as revenue divided by the transaction.
- Easy to read. You should be able to tell at a glance whether the team is on track to achieve its goal and how far it has yet to go to meet its goal.
Step 5: Maintain Engagement
Mary is a top performer and wins every contest. She’s at the top of every scoreboard, and the rest of the team knows they are playing for second place. Remember, the goal of gamification is to keep everyone engaged and to move the numbers by generating higher productivity levels from mid and lower performers.
Avoid the pitfall of creating contests where people are knocked out of the game; it doesn’t promote long-term results. Instead, try implementing a raffle. Team members earn entries to the raffle through achieving key metrics. The more entries you have, the better your odds of winning, and even your low performers have a chance to win right up through the end of the game.
Another option is to allow team members to just post their personal best transactions on the game board. It’s a way to have them keep striving for higher levels of service and sales. Similarly, consider measuring the game on individual improvement. Those who are already motivated (i.e., top performers) are not likely to win and you can activate the effort of those at the lower end of the performance scale.
Step 6: Make them Accountable
People will work hard not to let their boss down, but they will do almost anything not to let their peers down. Create an environment of accountability where everyone is pitching in to achieve a common goal. Even if there is a healthy team-versus-team competition, it can be structured so the lower performers of a given team can score the highest points for their team.
Now you’re ready to get in the game.
The key to gamification is to find out what motivates your employees: Is it more income, respect from peers, recognition from management, or the satisfaction of excelling at work? With this information, you can deploy the strategy that will work best for your hotel. Game on!
About the Authors
Tom Diaz is the vice president of operations and Mark Hart is the performance director at Frontline Performance Group (FPG).