Game on: how playing makes work fun

Mobile learning and gamification can help in the process of change management

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 February, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 February, 2016, 10:00am

We advise financial services firms on how to transform their businesses, and this inevitably involves helping clients restructure who does what and how.

In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of radical, technology-driven workforce transformation tools that are helping human resources executives deliver significant business results.

These tools include mobile learning and gamification, which can help in the process of change management – guiding people through a journey towards a specific business outcome.

We manage change by leading people towards a vision, help them understand how they fit into the vision, and give them the information and tools (eg training) to get there. It’s also about embedding the change to make sure it sticks so it becomes business as usual.

Digital solutions such as mobile learning and gamification make change fun, which is essential if you want it to stick. The idea of fun is to understand what appeals to people and approach the change in a way that makes it easier for them to accept – this is about understanding their context, speaking their language, drawing upon creativity to guide people through the unfamiliar. So, for example, enabling someone to use their smartphone to take a class on the MTR while commuting to work can be more fun than logging online in the evenings at home or trying to cram in a training session during work hours when people are caught in the swirl of their day job.

New social tools help staff to reach out to many, when in the past, many would reach out to no one

If you look up from your mobile phone while on the MTR at what others are doing you’ll likely see them watching YouTube, visiting Facebook or playing games like Candy Crush. What if you could encourage your staff to watch work videos, use corporate social media sites or play a work game instead?

Videos don’t just have to be of the chief executive broadcasting a message. You can ask staff to produce videos as well, which is a superb way to share knowledge, experience and innovation. Accenture uses Yammer’s social collaboration platform to enable staff across countries to share experiences and offer guidance and encouragement on a range of topics. These new social tools help staff to reach out to many, when in the past, many would reach out to no one.

You can combine mobile learning and gamification to provide human resources advice. For example, one of the proven ways to form habits is through an activity we call a “30-day challenge”, which creates new habits through action, repetition and community participation. It applies neuroscience research to effect behavioural change through micro-changes that in turn form new habits and embed behaviours.

Recently at Accenture, 6,000 people from 47 countries at all levels of the organisation signed up to receive a 30-day managing people challenge. According to self-reports and post-event surveys, the typical respondent engaged in 20 challenges during the month. The collaborative nature of the challenge meant that on average, each participant had a positive impact on seven people (therefore impacting 42,000 people).

In another example, 2,300 managers at a global bank chose to join a 90-day challenge programme focused around people management. Instead of a top-down push from leadership, this challenge created a peer network to encourage participation. Subsequent testimonials hailed the way it helped people work together better and enabled them to voice opinions they otherwise would have kept to themselves.

Ravi Chhabra is a managing director leading Accenture’s financial services business in Hong Kong, while Andrew Woolf is Accenture’s global human capital lead, financial services