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The benefits of social media


Companies are beginning to realise, the concepts behind social media are delivering significant benefits to staff performance and morale.

Social media and the related concept of ‘gamification’ — the introduction of game-like elements to ordinary processes — are providing new means to motivate and reward workers. Concepts such as ‘status updates’ and ‘checking in’ are increasingly being adapted for business purposes.

Gamification and social media have become widely adopted at Deloitte. Peter Williams, partner and chief executive of Deloitte Digital, says that when concepts from games are added to systems, participation rises dramatically. “People just seem to like using them a lot more. One of the big problems with systems, such as getting people to fill in forms and provide information. With gamification it seems to send it through the roof.”

Who. What. Where.

In November Deloitte launched ‘Who What Where’, which borrows the concept of ‘checking in’ popularised by Foursquare.

It encourages workers to ‘check in’ when they attend meetings, recording who they have met with and what was discussed. Colleagues can then see this information. “The joint is just buzzing with people using the thing because they get badges for doing tasks or repeating tasks or checking in on various things,” recounts Williams.

Deloitte is also ‘gamifying’ its induction process to encourage recruits to familiarise themselves with systems and processes quickly by rewarding them as they complete various tasks. Workers are easily able to track their own progress through the induction process as well. “It gets people into the swing of things faster, with better engagement of staff,” Williams says.

Internet audience measurement company Effective Measure has adopted an Australian-developed tool called Wooboard as a means of recognising their workers’ achievements and providing assistance, with the action shared on an internal website seen by co-workers and management.

According to Effective Measure’s CEO Scott Julian, Wooboard provides a means of recognising important activity within an organisation that is otherwise overlooked. “In any given day there are all these little things that are done by people to help people out, and they don’t necessarily translate to a sale or something that is measurable under a customer relationship management system,” explains Julian.

Co-creator Mick Liubinskas, from the developer Pollenizer, says Wooboard has the potential to boost morale, productivity and teamwork.“People feel better about their jobs. Most people have to wait until their annual performance review to get feedback and to feel encouraged for what they are doing.”

And because the system is web-based it can be implemented without the intervention of the IT department.

Rewarding staff

Social media and gamification is also working its way into formalised staff reward programs. Personnel company First Contact is using another Australian-developed tool called Brownie Points to manage rewards for workers in the outsourcing service.

Using the web-based Brownie Points system means not only can workers now see their status in real time, they can also immediately spend their reward points within the system.

Brownie Points director Tony Delaney says the benefit of instant recognition is that workers know what they are being rewarded for, and this can be witnessed by colleagues.

“It creates a bond and an incentive for people to do better. They can see where they are in relation to other people or their targets tend to respond far better than if it is just in the back of the mind,” Delaney says.

While all workers are able to see how they are performing comparatively, organisations can decide whether to enable them to see the identities of other workers on the leader board.

Delaney says one of the most critical elements is to ensure that the recognition programs are tailored to specific roles, so as to ensure that workers are sufficiently motivated and do not feel handicapped by the nature of the role that they are performing.

“The important thing is to capture what it is that each of those is doing and how they are going to be measured.”

Brownie Points was re-released in its current format on 1 July 2011, and Delaney expects to have half a dozen clients signed in the first three months of 2012. He says many will be smaller businesses that use rewards programs to enable them to compete with the larger salaries offered by bigger competitors.

Playing the game

Who What Where

A tool developed and used in-house by Deloitte that encourages workers to ‘check in’ when they attend meetings, effectively recording who they have met with, what was discussed, and where they met.

Wooboard

Recognises staff achievements as well as providing assistance on tasks at hand. Staff and managers can follow the actions on an internal website.

Brownie points

Offers web-based recognition programs that can be tailored to specific roles. Workers can see their status in real time and instantly redeem reward points.

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