Below is an interview we conducted with Persson:
Ken Persson is one of the founders of Ageris, and is also part of its management team and board of directors. Prior to Ageris, he gained extensive experience in the contact center world, having setup a large Swedish contact center and worked as a management consultant for contact centers.
Making the decision to revolutionize performance management in Ageris’ contact center
At Ageris, Persson spearheaded the implementation of workforce performance management using gamification, for Ageris’ call center employees.
“In 2016 we started examining our incentive programs closely. Before 2016, we used traditional monetary incentives, focusing on employee achievement of business results. We used three business KPIs, and if the employee met their goal, we added a small bonus to their paycheck. Yet we concluded this was not an effective way of incentivizing employees. The extra cash in the paycheck didn’t seem to be something that drove employees to do better. We also sensed that we were rewarding results and not employee behaviors. Moreover, we mostly rewarded top performers. This didn’t seem to create the incentives that truly change employee behavior and knowledge, just better reward people that were doing well anyway”.
What do employees care about?
In order to discover what drives employees and what they care about, Ageris management began surveying employees and inviting them to focus groups. “The main conclusion was that employees want feedback that is as immediate as possible, almost real-time”, says Persson. Beforehand, Ageris ran performance discussions on a monthly basis – but this appeared to be much less engaging for employees. “We understood that employees wanted something more than just tracking their results, they wanted a graphical representation of their goals and achievements, and certainly to have this reflected to them more than once a month, during a meeting with their managers”.
Are tangible rewards enough?
Persson says: “our first step was a program called “gold feather”, which was a tangible rewards program. We took the 3 KPIs and created 5 levels within each of them. We stopped distributing cash prizes and moved to a webshop where those coins were redeemable – employees could choose tangible rewards in exchange for their performance metrics and levels. We set the store reward system to discourage absenteeism. We also gave managers reports about the KPI achievement and the webshop rewards”.
“We then wanted to get to the next level”, says Persson. “We wanted more fun, to foster feedback. We have a lot of “feedback junkies” in the organization, we discovered this when we asked employees how often they want to see results and asked the same question on surveys. People are looking for real time feedback, and the main source of satisfaction for them is their relationships with direct managers, their colleagues and feedback”.
“We understood we need to really focus on manager-employee relationships, and now have review meetings once a month instead of once a year because it makes everyone happier. People wanted feedback from managers and to always know how they are doing. We also discovered that competition wasn’t driving the results we wanted – and that competing with yourself is a better motivator. You want to do better than you did the day before, not compete with your peers. People don’t necessarily want to be top performers in competition with others. They want to do well for themselves and have a constructive dialogue with their boss. Some people are social creatures and actually dislike competition at work”.
Using a Gamified Performance Management Platform
Ageris employees are using GamEffective’s platform. The key KPIs used to communicate performance to employees are the “classical” call center KPIs, such as Average Handle Time, Customer Satisfaction and more. Employees access the system mostly to get immediate feedback on their KPIs. This form of gamification is very much like a “Fitness Tracker for Work”, giving real-time feedback to employees about how they are doing, through an integration with Ageris’ enterprise systems. This ties into the core psychological drivers behind gamification:
- Autonomy: employees can choose which challenges, campaigns and learning to engage with, giving them a sense of control and choice, which is important in a call center environment
- Relatedness & social connection: since employees can communicate with others and compare themselves to their peers
- Mastery: employees get a sense of personal development as they progress in learning or performance
- Purpose: employees get a senses of understanding and alignment as they see what their targets and benchmarks are
- Path to success: employees can see what it takes to “win”
Although Ageris is mostly using GamEffective to provide KPI feedback, employees are also prompted to consume microlearning as part of gamification, “feeding” employees with microlearing related to their performance, from quizzes to simulations.
To engage users in a dialogue about their performance, a dialogue that is personalized yet doesn’t require manual work but is rather automated, the Ageris GamEffective deployment makes use of engagement automation. Here are some examples:
As midweek feedback, employees who are close to their target get a message tell them they are almost there. This type of feedback is often more compelling than just seeing the numbers. At the same time, since this is the middle of the week, employees that aren’t doing well get a “Don’t Give Up!” message indicating that if they work well, they can still meet their target.
A raffle, in which employees get “numbered” tickets with each representing a chance of winning a prize, is a great motivational tool to drive employee engagement: Raffles are a great way to focus everyone on a business goal, make them aware of a new product or process or engage in learning.
When raffles are used within a gamified workforce management or learning platform, the goal for employees is to collect as many raffle tickets as possible, to increase their chances of winning. This taps into collection as a motivator.
Raffles, in a sense, are another way of delivering immediate feedback. In a recent campaign, tied to a certain KPI, overall performance grew by 6.5%, with highly engaged users growing performance by 9%.
Ageris is an outsourcer with centers in Solna, Falun and Strömsund in Sweden. Ageris delivers customer service, proactive customer care and sales for clients who work strategically with customer loyalty and believe that customer service can increase customer satisfaction and sales. At Ageris, we have extensive industry experience that we like to share. Ageris has several large and long-term clients, approx 250 employees and is growing organically with profitability.