I recently spoke with Britt Davies, Chief Marketing Officer of Workplace. Britt joined Workplace in 2012 as chief marketing officer and is the brainchild behind the development of Workplace: The Game. Since joining Workplace, Britt has managed all marketing and communications efforts in the United States and abroad. Britt’s main focus at Workplace is to increase awareness of the brand in target markets, build a robust sales pipeline and increase market share. Britt explains in this interview how Workplace: The Game is a "simplified parody of real life," giving players an opportunity to role-play work.
Michael Tresca (MT): What intrigued you about gamification to begin the Workplace game?
Britt Davies (BD): As an industry innovator, we've seen the impact gamification has had in other industries and felt if we want to continue to lead the way in our industry, the timing was right to capitalize on the trend. However, we didn't just want to imitate or replicate what others have done so we took the opportunity to create from scratch, Workplace: The Game, and built it based on our strengths as a company.
As a technology vendor, one of our goals is to simplify the complex, and how we best enable our customers to get the most value from our products. We were looking at a way to measure the quality of schedules created in our software that was easy to understand against a number of KPI’s(key performance indicators), and would inspire improvement. This led to the 5-star schedule quality rating. Increasingly, various aspects of gamification have been incorporated into our cloud-based solution and have begun to provide major benefits to our retail clients. The gamification element of the platform has proven to be effective for clients in driving sales as well as employee engagement, so what better way to celebrate this success than by creating a fun and engaging video game that incorporates the SQR element of the Workplace proposition
MT: How did you get involved with gamification?
BD: At Workplace, we realized that store managers are already using gamification in their everyday lives and it’s influencing their consumer behavior and purchase decisions. So, as an industry innovator we took a look at how we could easily and effectively incorporate aspects of gamification into our Workplace online software.
Our goal is to simplify processes and enable our customers to get the most value from our cloud-based products. Incorporating gamification into our cloud-based system has done just that and it continues to serve as a means of enhancing workplace performance in a real and meaningful way. To date, Workplace is the only cloud-based provider that has successfully incorporated gamification into its products.
MT: How would you define the term ‘gamification’?
BD: On this front, I am going to refer to a true expert in this space. Rajat Paharia, widely regarded as the ‘father’ of gamification and the founder and Chief Product Officer of Bunchball refers to it as follows:
Gamification uses an existing asset, such as a website, an enterprise application or an online community and integrates game mechanics into it to motivate employee participation, engagement and loyalty. It works because it leverages the motivations and desires that exist in everyone to feel part of a community, receive feedback, feel a sense of achievement and enjoy reward. Just like game mechanics, gamification is about using data to get employees to perform better.
MT: You’ve created Workplace: The Game. What is it?
BD: Workplace: The Game is a playable and immersive video game designed to inform and educate while simultaneously demonstrate how businesses can incorporation gamification into a workforce management solution to improve performance. At the heart of our Workplace Online product is what is called a Schedule Quality Rating or “SQR”.
The SQR is the means by which a retailer can effectively measure the quality of workforce schedules and is at heart of improving overall efficiency of store operations, which in turn results in more engaged associates, improved customer service and sales growth.
SQR takes a retailer’s selection of key performance indicators such as service levels, ineffectiveness, forecast labor to sales ratio, hours versus budget conversion rate, staffing level compliance and overtime, and presents them in a simple to understand one to five star rating for a schedule. Workplace: The Game was developed specifically to celebrate Workplace’s continued success with its proprietary SQR rating.
MT: How does Workplace: the Game work?
BD: It’s actually quite simple and is an actual video game. In Workplace: The Game, players assume the role of an operations manager and are tasked with achieving five star SQRs and running an efficient store that makes a healthy profit.
The game is a simplified parody of the real life scheduling and forecasting modules of the workforce management software and reflects a number of features, including measuring the quality of schedules created, responds to forecasting, selecting the right staff with right skill sets, monitoring hours of all team members to make sure nobody is overworked or working costly overtime and ensures an adequate store presence of sales associates based on demand.
The Workplace ‘eye’ guides the players through the game to help achieve a high SQR by offering guidance on managing the store environment and alerting them to hazards such as spillages in the aisles or staff becoming unhappy from being overworked. Like Workplace’s software which is cloud-based, and can therefore be accessed from any Internet-enabled device, Workplace: The Game is built in HTML 5 so players can begin instant game play from any Internet-enabled device as well.
MT: What do you think of the state of gamification today?
BD: We can only speak from the perspective of the adoption of gamification on the workforce management front as this is our area of expertise. From this perspective, we believe gamification is really in its infancy and hasn’t been adopted to the level at which we see gamification in the consumer market as well as some other business arenas, such as CRM. Workplace is clearly leading the way in effectively employing gamification in workforce management and as the positive results continue to come in, we are sure that the rate of adoption will increase in the coming months and years.
MT: Although gamification provides metrics, there doesn't seem to be an agreement on how to gauge the success of an implementation. What measures can a business use that will make help prove gamification works?
BD: Here again, we will answer this questions as it relates specifically to workforce management solutions where our customers are seeing clear advantages to our workforce management solution offering gamification. There is overwhelming positive results that show our customers are quickly and cost-effectively improving SQR rating, with the majority having started at a 1 or 2 rating and moving towards a 5 rating at a rapid pace.
In addition, there is significant anecdotal information that gamification has made a considerable impact in the workforce management arena and we anticipate continued success on this front.
MT: What businesses are most in need of applying gamification concepts to their business?
BD: When you think about it, it is just about any business that has needs to inspire, motivate and reward its employees and do so in a manner that increases efficiency in the workplace and enhances customer service. So, whether you are a global Fortune 500 company or run a small retail operation, gamification can provide major benefits to engaging employees, enhancing performance, customer service and ultimately sales.
MT: There are concerns that in the future, gamification might get out of hand. Are there risks of a "gamification apocalypse" where everything is measured, gamed, and socialized without our permission?
BD: Clearly this could easily become the case, if it hasn’t already been happening on a personal consumer level. From a business perspective, however, this is likely less of a concern right now, particularly in workforce management solutions due to it being in the very early stages of deployment.
MT: What's next for your company?
BD: At Workplace, we are going to continue down the path that we have started here in the United States as well as internationally in that we will continue to solve customer needs through innovative cloud-based software solutions and a hands-on approach to customer service. We have realized significant growth here and abroad within the last year alone and we are looking forward to continuing in this direction.
At the same time, we will continue to promote Workplace: The Game, encouraging game play as a means of informing and educating clients and prospective clients on the real benefits of gamification in workforce management. The game itself has been well received and we are seeing increased word of mouth that continues to drive game play. We believe the development and launch of Workplace: The Game has been a creative and interesting means of allowing businesses to understand how gamification works in this arena.
MT: Where can we find out more about your product online?
BD: To find out more about Workplace and our innovative cloud-based solutions please visit www.workplacesystems.com or call us directly at 312-726-3734. Workplace: The Game can be found at: www.workplacesystems.com/thegame.
MT: What events/conferences will you be at next?
BD: Workplace will be exhibiting at the 2014 National Retail Federation (NRF) Show set to take place January 12-15 in New York City.
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
BD: We would like to thank examiner.com for its interest in this topic as we are thrilled to be able to introduce Workplace: The Game to the general business community. We welcome any thoughts and comments specifically on the game or about workforce management in general.
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