One of the interesting things I have seen in recent years is the growing awareness that big corporations have had about human motivation and their impact on the performance of their business. Years ago gamification was constantly confused with the creation of games and seen as mere decorative item. But today, after a long period of demonstrating consistent results, large companies have begun to understand that gamification can be the most powerful tool for corporate engagement ever created. For a number of reasons: because it is cheaper and more effective than traditional loyalty programs; for giving the company the control of this valuable asset, which is called engagement; for being scalable; for being sustainable for long-term initiatives; to increase at the same time the productivity and joy of the players (employees, customers, etc); for producing impressive results, not only from the point of view of engagement, but also economically.
THE BANK'S GOAL
Last year Caixa Econômica Federal, Latin America's largest public bank with more than 88 million clients, set an ambitious goal that could only be achieved through the engagement of each of its 83,000 employees, distributed all over Brazil. This is a complexity that only managers of corporations of this magnitude are able to understand. In addition, the engagement should be consistent, and recurrent, encouraging all these employees, throughout the months of the year, so that the result could be achieved.
Why was the goal set so ambitious? Well, before I talk about the goal, let me remind you that Brazil has been going through the last four years in a terrible economic recession, and the bank's record of recurring net income was approximately R$ 8 billion. That said, the bank's goal was precisely to surpass this historical record, setting the goal of achieving 9 billion recurring net income. Of course, the more skeptics were sure that this result would never be achieved. However the more optimistic ones saw that in the best scenario, at the end of a year, they could, yes, achieve this result.
But to reach this goal, the bank depended on an element considered abstract by most people: I'm talking about human motivation. It was necessary to massively engage all employees, from all departments, to work as one, to achieve the goal. We are talking about more than 83,000 employees, distributed in more than 4,500 physical units, to reach all hierarchical levels.
It was at this moment that Caixa Econômica Federal resorted to gamification to launch CAIXA's largest incentive and engagement campaign, created by FLAP Live Marketing, CAIXA's bidding agency for Incentive Marketing actions, in partnership with FUNIFIER Gamification Solutions.
The recurring 9 billion net profit goal was broken down into vice-presidential goals, which were subdivided into goals by departments, and so on, until they reached the goals per employee. Each employee, from all sectors: marketing, technology, legal, HR, accounting, credit, real estate, all without exception, were included in the gamification. A colossal project, with well-defined goals, and processes for calculating complex results, were part of this project.
Thus, theoretically, if all employees met the defined qualitative and quantitative targets, CAIXA would achieve the overall goal. The proposal then was to demonstrate that the employee's actions generate results for him, his department, and the company.
THE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
From this we follow a premise of behavioral psychology: rather than encouraging the outcome, gamification should stimulate the behavior that generates the outcome.
And we established an engagement strategy that acted in the most diverse areas of human motivation, in order to be able to sensitize such a heterogeneous public. Building a corporate engagement process of this nature can be compared to major engineering projects such as building a building. You need a multidisciplinary team, follow processes, perform a series of calculations, and use the right tools. Nobody builds a skyscraper without these ingredients, and a gamification like this, either. It takes people with business knowledge, knowledge in information technology, psychology, communication, game design, math, statistics, economics, law and many other knowledges. In addition, specific tools for human behavior analysis, data integrations, business intelligence, artificial intelligence, game technique processing, and various other technologies are needed to build a gamification project of this nature.
The goal was hard, and in order not to raise doubts, the project was named: Tamo Junto 9Bi+ (We're together to reach 9Bi), making a reference to the work that all employees should do together to achieve a recurring net income of 9 billion, making clear to all, the goal of gamification. To achieve this, the plan was simple: connecting the business purpose with the emotional purpose of each employee. We would do this with, what we call engagement techniques. Whenever the employee completed a goal set by the bank, it would interact with an engaging technique, acting as a kind of feedback and reward, which encourages the employee to want to perform the desired action again, thereby creating engagement cycles. Making the goal beat a pleasurable moment.
CHALLENGES OF GIANT
The first engagement technique used in gamification was the List of Challenges. People love challenges, and this is a great way to communicate the goals set by the bank, and allow each area to create its own challenges to encourage the employees of the linked units to meet the goals. For some people it may seem simple, after all, this is just a to-do list, correct? But for an organization like CAIXA, a simple challenge can become something very complex.
For those who have already participated in a campaign, they should know that it is necessary to establish a regulation that presents the rules, form of results, and other details of the campaign. Most of them have only one regulation document. But to meet the complexity inherent in CAIXA, each challenge had its own rules. There were more than 400 regulations within a single project.
In order to work with the challenge technique, we needed to find out which employees completed what challenges, and for that, it would be necessary to work with information from dozens of different systems, from different areas, built with different technologies, managed by different people. For these reasons, a working group was created, which brought together CAIXA, FLAP and FUNIFIER employees, dedicated to solving all issues related to strategy, security, integration, communication and etc., so that project execution could happen in the best way possible. Projects such as this one, which have so audacious goals and need to use such innovative solutions, are risky, and for this reason, everyone's commitment and risk management were necessary.
THE FUNIFIER SOLUTION
This was one of the reasons why CAIXA chose FUNIFIER as its gamification platform to support this audacious engagement project, since FUNIFIER met all the technological needs of the project and had already been used with success in other projects inside the bank, in other banks around the world, as well as in multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Adidas and many others with similar sizes and complexities. Thus, it would be possible to build the project that was being imagined, and at the same time give the security that the bank needed in this so innovative project, that could not go wrong.
Another technique that was used in the project is called Collectible Items. These items were presented as pieces of a puzzle, which: when you get all the pieces, complete the jigsaw puzzle. You can have a jigsaw puzzle with the image of a drone! And the cool part is, that by completing all the parts of the drone, you can trade the entire puzzle through the real drone. And to win pieces of the puzzle you would have to complete the challenges. In gamification you have several different jigsaw puzzles: from drones, coffee makers, video games, TVs, speakers, cellars, etc., with the jigsaw pieces being randomly distributed by the FUNIFIER GAMIFICATION PLATFORM.
In addition, some employees could earn Instant Awards, such as Gift Cards like Netflix and Fuel Voucher. FUNIFIER PLATFORM allowed CAIXA to distribute the rewards according to the merit of each player, while at the same time managing the available financial budget precisely, since each area had its own budget for the distribution of prizes, and these should be delivered according to this budget segmentation.
CORPORATE AND PERSONAL OBJECTIVES
At all times it is necessary to connect the business objectives with the objectives of the employees, and communicate well the strategy and the gain that everyone will have.
Another engagement technique often used in this project was the Progress Bar, for example, to present the results of landmarks to the target of 9 billion. All employees could see at any moment, how much of the established goal had been met by the company. Partial goals have been set, called outcome markers (good for the bank), which when completed unlock more pieces of puzzles, this means more prizes to be distributed (good for the employees). In this way the bank reverted a fraction of the result obtained, in prizes for the employees controlling in a much more efficient and profitable way, the investments in the process of internal engagement.
Group Challenges, another engagement technique, was also used in the project. This technique is very important to create synergy among the members of the group, requiring the effort of all, to achieve the reward. Whenever a Bank agency met a goal, the agency also received the pieces of jigsaw puzzles. And the team leader has the privilege of administering the rewards of gamification on behalf of the group. Then, internally, it was possible to visualize the individual challenges of the player, and the challenges of the team to which the player belongs.
People constantly come to me, complaining about the lack of engagement in their companies, and when we analyze the situation, we realize that the company has no clear goals. How do companies want productive and engaged employees if they do not even know what to do?
The implementation of a professional gamification requires a certain level of maturity of the organizations. Competence in setting clear goals, the ability to monitor and analyze people's behavior, to use this as input in the engagement process, is something that companies gain by going through a process of gamification of their business. It is at this point in time that companies realize the value of keeping gamification as a strategic, ongoing business process, and not just as a solution to a short problem, because engaging people is a constant need.
THE PLAYER'S JOURNEY
So, to meet the bank's need for engagement, a journey was created for the players, where one engaging technique connected to the other, and new techniques were unlocked day after day, month after month. Creating a constant expectation in players, both by the distribution of new pieces of puzzles, and by the inclusion of new features. And this way rise the engagement curve every month, thus lengthening and sustaining engagement along the way.
At first the player was given some challenges. Upon completing a challenge, the player earned pieces of the puzzle, which could be converted into real prizes. The next week, Great! New challenges and new parts! The following month some people began to have repeated pieces of the puzzle, and then ... a market emerged where players could exchange repeated pieces with other players. The other week, What Fun! More challenges and now I've completed a prize! Next month, Wow! We hit a milestone result, now there will be a draw! Players can exchange pieces of the puzzle for coupons to participate in raffles. The other week, some players discover that there are magic pieces that can replace any other piece and help the player complete the puzzle faster. Fantastic!!! My team hit the goal too ..., and so on, new goals, and new engaging techniques were being included periodically.
Each person is motivated differently, and in CAIXA we have many people. Some people are engaged by what we call epic meaning, they want to feel that they have helped to do something great, such as overcoming the bank's historical record. Other people are motivated by what we call a sense of development and accomplishment, these people love the sense of completing a challenge. Others are moved by the feeling of ownership, they love to collect things and win prizes. Others are driven by a sense of social influence, and belonging to a group. Others are driven by fear, and so on. Behind every motivation there is a feeling that can be fabricated from engagement techniques. In this project we used 20 different engagement techniques, of the more than 90 techniques supported by FUNIFIER GAMIFICATION PLATFORM. But we will not detail here with all the techniques used as this project, because it would leave this article very extensive. Let's talk about the result instead.
THE FINANCIAL RESULT
Is gamification really capable of engaging people, and generating real financial results for a bank? The best way to answer this question is with actual numbers and results.
In just four months after the start of gamification, Caixa Econômica Federal reached the established target of 9 billion recurring net income. Reaching a level of engagement never seen inside the bank. Other campaigns made within the same bank, with the same public and seeking to achieve similar goals, failed to engage even 10% of employees. While the gamification TamoJunto 9Bi+ engaged 92% of employees.
In fact, this was the first time an engagement initiative reached each individual employee. I remember that in the first distribution of pieces of puzzles, by completing goals established by the bank, an employee of the cleaning department, who worked in a small branch of the Bank, in the interior of the country, managed to win a TV. Then all the employees realized that there was something different with that engagement campaign. For were no longer just the managers of the agencies and the directors of the bank who won prizes and were recognized. Anyone could be recognized for their work, once it had helped to achieve the bank's goal.
EXCEEDING ALL EXPECTATIONS
Employee engagement was so brutal that 6 months after the start of gamification the bank exceeded 11 billion recurring net income. I remember some interesting stories that happened at that moment in the project. One day we received an email from an employee who had won a Dolce Gusto coffee machine and would like to return the prize and take the pieces of the puzzle back so that he could continue to interact in a virtual marketplace (another engagement technique), where employees could exchange pieces among themselves, since he liked the social and emotional experience of gamification more than the physical and financial prize. This may shock some people who believe only in financial rewards, and who, are accustomed to traditional loyalty programs where relationships between company and people are no more than transactions without any emotional involvement.
At the same time, the gamification TamoJunto 9Bi+, won the silver medal of the Lusophone Award, in the Public Relations and Internal Communication category. The Lusophone Awards are an international creativity festival based in Portugal, dedicated exclusively to rewarding, honoring and debating the advertising and communication markets of Portuguese-speaking countries.
Another very striking moment was when I heard the testimony of a manager, saying that one day all the cell phones of the dozens of people who worked alongside her started shooting. According to her, it looked like a movie scene. People had set up their alarm clocks to remind them of the exact moment when another long-awaited engagement technique would be made available. There were moments in gamification where more than 60 thousand simultaneous people, in the same second, interacted with gamification. According to her, this has never happened in this institution with more than 150 years of existence.
WHEN THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPENED
But believe me if you can, the result was even greater. At the time I’m writing this article Caixa Econômica Federal is about to publish the result reached by the bank, and they should reach 16 billion recurring net income. You understood? The bank has almost doubled the historical record of recurring net income already recorded. The most skeptical may not even believe it. But the truth is that this project managed to extract the best from each of Caixa employees. This was done in a very fun for employees and at the same time lucrative way for the bank. It is difficult to explain in such a short article all the richness and learning of such a virtuous project as this, which stirred our emotions so much, and CAIXA made history.
CAIXA, and all its employees are to be congratulated, was the dedication and commitment of all the 83,000 employees that allowed this result to be achieved. Such growth is the dream of many companies, but unfortunately it is not for everyone. Congratulations Caixa, Brazil needs more companies and people like you.