Tag Archives: gamification

What sustainability efforts could learn from Angry Birds

(This is Part 2, which explores how gamification can “green” employee behavior in order to achieve business goals.  Last month, Part 1 explored how gamification can attract customers and “green” their behavior.) This post also published by GreenBiz.com.

What do Angry Birds and sustainability have in common?

Playing  Angry Birds hooks people, focusing them on developing special skills to achieve ever more difficult goals. That type of game-playing can be a central tool to help companies get their employees involved in delivering on firm-wide sustainability goals from zero waste to greening the supply chain.

Innovative companies are using gamification to re-image work and drive unprecedented engagement across the entire organization”, according to JP Rangaswami, keynote speaker for upcoming Gamification Summit June 19-21.  This is increasingly true for one of business’ top issues – sustainability.

What on Earth is Gamification?

It’s playing games with a purpose, in this case, employee engagement in greening the workplace. Playing electronic games is addictive. It hooks people at the level of their basic social drives for achievement, appreciation, reciprocity, and friendly competition. It grabs attention on social media and speeds up companies’ sustainability processes. In business, people compete individually and in teams for points, prizes, and recognition. They become engaged and motivated.

Why Do We Care?

93% of business leaders identified sustainability as important to their company’s future success, according to a recent survey. They are just looking for ways to make it work. Gamification is one answer. For example, companies using CloudApps’ gamification tools to engage employees in corporate sustainability efforts can save up to 10% on their annual costs of energy, water, waste and business travel, improving their ROI in less than six months.

Seven Gamification Strategies to Increase Employee Engagement in Sustainability

Cloudapps has shared their roadmap as follows:

    1. Align employees’ personal sustainability goals with corporate sustainability vision and goals
    2. Visibly allocate and reward in connection with sustainability budgets and targets
    3. Bring a fun, innovative and competitive approach through the use of game mechanics that includes challenges, badges, levels, rewards and leader boards
    4. Deliver practical sustainability challenges relevant to an employee’s experience
    5. Bring a social networking style of collaboration and communication that drives successful employee-led sustainability initiatives
    6. Harvest employees’ sustainability and cost reduction ideas
    7. Create a workplace ethic that attracts and retains the very best employees

Here’s how very different types of companies apply a mix of these strategies to improve their bottom line and the environment.

Practically Green, a digital community, helps organizations become greener by using technology and social networking to educate, motivate and reward employees for making green changes to their work and home life.  They give points for over 400 different green behaviors, from commuting by bike, buying local produce, to switching to e-bills.

SAP, the German software giant, has a number of green games.  One is a carpooling game called TwoGo, aimed at making carpooling easy and socially cool. Bike at Work lets employees earn points, get feedback, give useful tips to their friends, see calories burned and other fun, motivational stuff.

Deloitte, the consulting firm, has developed a Business Simulation Game that enables players to experiment with sustainable initiatives for their client companies in a safe game setting.  The game allows players make mistakes and try again without losing face. This direct experience accelerates the learning about, and adoption of, sustainability strategies.

Through events like the upcoming Gamification Summit and Coursera’s free online Gamification course offered by Wharton, we’re betting that more companies follow the lead of these pioneers.

While some critics claim that green gamification is a passing fad, here are two leaders who are convinced of its lasting value.

Gamification encourages more lasting behavior change than traditional communications and training efforts because it is simple, personal and relevant, trackable, and shareable.  – Susan Hunt Stevens of Practically Green

Every employee is the head of sustainability. It’s the only way to achieve the aggressive business and environmental growth that we have planned over the next 10-30 years. Frankly, we can’t do it unless everyone is involved.  Emma Peacock of Unilever Australia/New Zealand


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Gamification To “Green” Customer Behavior

(This is Part 1, which explores how gamification can attract customers and “green” their behavior.  Next month, Part 2 will explore how gamification can “green” employee behavior in order to achieve business goals.) This post also published by GreenBiz.com.

Leading-edge companies are using gamification to attract and “green” customers. In fact, in the next two years more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application, according to Gartner.

What is Gamification?

Gamification applies game design to make otherwise boring tasks more engaging.  Think of airline points and loyalty cards. However, the rise of social media and mobile internet (smart phones, tablets) has taken games to whole new level of consumer engagement (some say addiction!) and online sharing of brand loyalty.

Gamification hooks us by meeting our basic human needs for achievement, appreciation, reciprocity and a sense of control over our little corner of life. Here are some of gamification’s addictive inventions:

  • achievement levels rewarded with badges
  • a progress bar or other visual meter
  • virtual currency
  • systems for tracking and exchanging points

Now, let’s see how gamification is being used to attract more customers and promoting sustainability by greening their behavior. (In Part 2, we will explore how gamification can green employees behaviors in ways that also helps achieve strategic business goals.)

Greening Consumer Behavior

We’re looking for that tipping point where most consumers are motivated to go green for “fun and fame, not guilt and shame.”  How do companies move people from occasionally just turning off the lights to adopting and sharing a new way of life?

Let’s look at some of the gamification strategies that leading-edge companies are successfully using to increase their customer base while helping their customers, their companies, and society, become greener.

Reward Green Actions
Recyclebank attracts customers by offering them points for taking green actions like recycling, saving energy, and learning about sustainability-related topics.  Members can also earn points by correctly answering quizzes or making certain pledges. These points can be redeemed with reward partners for food, health, home, clothing, and gifts.

Enable Social Comparison
The Nissan Leaf’s Carwings is a digital tracker that both measures fuel consumption and ranks drivers according to fuel-efficiency. An online portal lets drivers know how well they are conserving energy compared with other nearby drivers. The most efficient drivers receive virtual bronze, silver, gold, and platinum “medals.” What had been solely a matter of personal virtue—driving more efficiently—has become a community activity.

Encourage Friendly Competition
Opower motivates customers to save energy by appealing to their competitive instincts and their desire to save money. Opower does this by mailing their utility customers personalized reports on their energy consumption and compares it with their neighbors.

Reinforce Reuse
TerraCycle has a game called Trash Tycoon that is played on Facebook. Players earn points by cleaning up a virtual small town and building sustainable businesses from the trash. The game reinforces the real-world effort of school kids who recycle packaging materials to raise funds for good causes.

Give Groupon for Good
To join The Mutual, a member picks a pledge level and a charity to steer the donations towards. Members, in turn, are rewarded with perks from business members looking to connect with a big pool of green-minded consumers.

Individually, these strategies won’t solve global environmental issues like climate change. But companies are betting that small actions can add up over time, AND that they will attract more, and greener, customers.

What do you think?

  • Do you play games or interact online in some way to earn points, badges, or rewards?  How has that impacted your behavior?
  • Do you think gamification is just a fad? Or a viable business approach for attracting and “greening” consumers?
  • Do you think that gamification will really lead consumers to adopt more environmentally-friendly behaviors?



Posted in change management, green, sustainability, sustainability consulting, sustainability strategy, Sustainable Business | Tagged , , , |