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Can Gamification Improve Corporate EHS Performance?

cool-choicesGamification in the workplace is emerging as a way to engage employees, making them more enthusiastic about their jobs and more committed to the company’s mission. And some innovative companies are finding that playing games can help them improve their environmental performance and meet corporate sustainability goals as well.

Gamification in the workplace uses elements of game playing — point scoring, competition among co-workers, prizes — to engage employees. As Gabe Zichermann, author of the upcoming book The Gamification Revolution, says in an interview with CIO: “Its about figuring out ways to create alignment with incentives and motivation. You increase productivity [and] performance and you can attract a higher-quality employee, this next generation of employees or millennials generation who bring with them their increased technology skills,” says Zichermann.

Companies with engaged employees perform better. Not only do they save billions of dollars in productivity and employee retention, but they also make more money. A recent Gallup study on the effect of employee engagement on organizations’ bottom line found top-quartile businesses outperform their bottom-quartile counterparts by 21 percent in profitability and 20 percent in productivity.

Gamification can also help companies get their employees involved in — and excited about — corporate environmental, health and safety initiatives.

Cool Choices is a nonprofit that helps organizations improve their sustainability performance and cut costs — to the tune of about $3.6 million annually to date. It does this through a game-based platform: employees play an online card game and earn points for making “cool choices,” actions that save money and help the environment.

The cards display a mix of home and work-related sustainability actions. They focus on water and emissions savings along with waste-reduction and recycling, such as walking or using public transit to get to work, turning off the computer monitor when not in use and properly recycle unused electronics.

Many of the actions are personal habits associated with employees’ home life, with the theory being that sustainable choices at home will carry over into sustainable choices in the workplace, explains Cool Choices’ Danika Brubaker. “We focus on personal habits so that individuals can see the personal benefits in their own wallet; because they are sharing these practices with their workplace colleagues, we see good spillover to workplace habits.”

Companies can also customize their employees’ cards to focus on specific facility-related environmental health and safety actions.

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