In Part 1 of our series on implementing enterprise gamification in referral programs, we discussed the low employee participation rates in referral programs, and a background look at enterprise gamification. Now we arrive at the crux of the issue – just how can you use gamification to encourage employee participation in your referral program?
Sigal Srur, co-founder of GooodJob, is a specialist in gamification theory. Throughout her years of experience, she has witnessed the growing power of enterprise gamification, and has assembled six essential tips:
1. Games should be FUN. The platform should be enjoyable and familiar enough so that your employees can catch on quickly. Feature a points system, badges or achievements program (no need to invent your own game). And the key is the feeling they get when they are rewarded. Again, we return to the triggering effects of the dopamine chemical – “When I do something good, I am rewarded. I like the feeling I get when I am rewarded. Therefore, I will keep playing.”
2. Leveling. Take this idea one step further and introduce the game mechanic of leveling. For example, if you use a points system, reward employees for every significant stage of their referrals’ hiring processes with a certain amount of points, not just if their referral is hired. This way, they won’t simply think, “I like being rewarded, I want to keep playing,” but even more: “I like being rewarded, I want to play better and reach the next level.” Suddenly, there is a tangible goal – it’s not just about making lateral moves from one reward to the next, but about moving up with a higher sense of purpose (in our case, the ultimate prize of making a successful hire).
Unfortunately, many companies only reward employees if their referrals were hired. This means that the majority of referring employees are disqualified from the game right away – and their efforts are not properly recognized. Why is this so important to prevent? Because a disgruntled employee whose referral was not hired and who received a mere ‘thanks’ is not going to be so quick to refer in the future.
3. Rewards Schedule. The rewards framework should be clear – employees should know when they will be rewarded, and for which actions. Present the rewards publicly. Public recognition injects feelings of pride, improves morale, drives more desire within other employees to also get to that point. In addition, reward successful hires immediately! Many companies institute a probation period before employees are rewarded. Knowing that even after their referral is hired, they will need to wait until a certain time has passed until they receive a bonus could cause them to think twice about investing the time.
4. Constant Feedback. Track employees’ progress and keep them updated as to how their referrals are doing. Ensure that they remain engaged, informed and involved.
5. Leader board. The ultimate gaming principal is that everyone starts off on an equal level, with no hierarchy. Only when the game progresses does each player begin to gain an edge over the other. Similar to a virtual “high scores” listing, a leader board reflects this very idea. It displays the rankings of every employee, such as who made more referrals for which jobs, total number of points, and bonuses rewarded.
6. Challenges. Like in any game, everybody love challenges – both personal and group ones. Create challenges for specific urgent job openings. They will create a special buzz around your needs, and are another way to inspire all employees to participate.
Use game mechanics to get your employees enthusiastic about your referral program - driven to compete and excel. Just like in a regular game, they will come back for more because they want to keep playing. Their commitment to win means that they will be more invested in your company’s mission and goals, and will ultimately provide you with a finer talent pool of candidates.