Posts tagged ‘Gen Y’

June 7, 2012

Keeping Millenials engaged

Loved this article, posted by a true Millenial, when you look at her own parcours. I personally believe, as already developed on this blog (see Gen Y) that this is not so much true for a specific generation, but for a specific evolution in society, values and place of work in our lives.

Keeping Millennials Engaged at Work

I’m a millennial. Some may think this is my personal dramatic interpretation of how special my generation is, but in reality this has been a major discussion the past few years. If you think Gen Y is a handful, this is just a preview of what is yet to come. The concept of a generation gap isn’t new, but this is not a gap…. it’s a huge freaking divide.

As recent graduates leave university and venture into the workforce, millennials are seen taking over, in and outside of the workplace.  According to Dan Schawbel, there are about 80 million millennials and 76 million boomers in America. Half of all millennials are already in the workforce, and millions are added every year. For some this may seem like an intimidating stat. This is reality. Gen X may not want millennials to take over, but if you want your business to continue to develop, the younger generation has a better understanding of what they want and what the next generation will want.

It’s very likely that you either already have a few Gen Y in your office or will have a bunch in the near future. Here are a few tips to consider if you want them to perform their best and keep them engaged.

 Be flexible

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, even in a tough job market, 23% of recent college graduates wouldn’t take a job where they couldn’t make or take personal phone calls. Companies are becoming more and more flexible with their employees today. Netflix, for example, doesn’t track vacation days… for anyone. If you allow your employees to dress casually, make personal phone calls, and take an occasional day off, they will perform better when they are on the job. They will feel appreciated and valued in the company.

 Let us know how we’re doing

For recent graduates it’s normal to receive feedback on almost everything you do. In school we get marks, comments, and feedback from teachers. Why does this change once we enter the workforce? Millennials have become accustomed to instant gratification or instant communication. In Time, Schwabel writes that 80% of millennials said they want regular feedback from their managers. Everyone wants to know how they’re doing and how they can improve. This will only develop your team in the long run and can take very little time!

Facebook senior exec and Millennial Molly Graham explains how important constant feedback is to help millennials and all coworkers grow. In a presentation at the HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas , Graham shared Facebook’s vision for aligning and engaging its Millennial workforce. You can see Molly’s presentation here.

 Transparency and an Open Door

The traditional hierarchical organization of the workplace doesn’t work anymore, especially with Gen Y. Millennials are looking for managers and leader who share almost everything with them. We like to be in the know… Schawbel explains it best: “Parents of millennials talked about everything in front of their children, from finances to sex, so millennials are comfortable with the same approach from businesses and managers.”  Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot shared with us in a previous webinar his company’s “No Door Policy” Open Door Policy. There are literally no doors in the office which allows everyone to feel like and equal part of the team.

 It’s Not Just About the Money

While most of use would like a well-paying job, giving recognition doesn’t always have to be about more money. According to a recent Forbes article, half of the millennials surveyed said money wasn’t important. Obviously money will always be a factor but giving simple public recognition can be a big motivational boost for employees everywhere.

If you foster a great culture and provide millennials with what they are used to, they will be productive and produce good results. Gen Ys in the workforce may seem young, but if you are selling or marketing a product targeted at younger people, millennials know what they want most. It may appear that we are demanding as a generation— but the only reason for all these needs is that we perform better in a comfortable and recognizable environment is necessary. As the world transforms, so the does the workplace. It’s important for organizations to be agile and ready to adapt to whatever comes next.

Alanah Throop

Alanah Throop is a student at the University of Toronto working towards a degree in Political Science and English. Alanah was previously a full time member of the Rypple Marketing team before returning to finish school last fall. Now, she is focusing on student life as well as a few part-time experiences including Rypple and a Children’s Program to help kids get the self-care skills they deserve.

March 28, 2012

TruParis: rencontre autour des nouveaux métiers du recrutement web 2.0

Une non-conférence: qu’est-ce que c’est? A quoi ça sert? Imaginez-vous partager vos expériences avec d’autres personnes passionnées et multiplier par 10 le nombre de contacts que vous pourriez avoir lors d’une conférence de format traditionnel. La non-conférence organisée par LinkHumans en janvier dernier à Paris est une première du genre.

Intéressés? Regardez la vidéo réalisée par LinkHumans: Vidéo TruParis

March 14, 2012

Adapting your onboarding processes to multigeneration needs

Madeline Laurano at Bersin and Associates believes that we are falling being in our ability to onboard multi-generational Millennials. In her report, “Onboarding a Multi-Generational” she describes these key findings:

  • The majority of organizations are customizing their strategic onboarding process by job roles but fail to consider the implications of a multigenerational workforce
  • Organizations with a multigenerational onboarding process are effectively leveraging social media.
  • Best practice organizations employee a manager who is directly responsible for the onboarding process.
  • Onboarding systems have plenty of opportunity for growth in today’s market. Despite a strong demand for employee engagement, the key drivers for onboarding are forms management and compliance.
  • Team building initiatives are critical when onboarding younger generations. Industries with organizations automating the onboarding process are also the same industries that have had an onboarding program in place for over a year.

Baby Boomers Best Practices

  • Focus on the Process Over Socialization
  • Clearly Defined Onboarding Roadmap
  • Frequent Feedback Mechanisms
  • Traditional Recruitment and Retention
  • Mechanisms (Benefits, Retirement Plan)
  • Forms Management
  • Show Respect
  • Extend Onboarding Beyond 6 Months

Generation X: Best Practices

  • Mentor Program
  • 30-60-90 Day Performance Reviews
  • Forms Management and Tasks Management
  • Planned Lunches On Day One (53% or
  • respondents)
  • Pre-Employment Gift

Generation Y Best Practices

  • Internal Social Networking
  • Enable Contribution
  • Assignment on the First Day (17% of companies)
  • Interactive Media Tools
  • Socialization in the Company Culture
  • “New Hire Clubs”
  • “Buddy System” (47% of companies)
  • Starbucks Coffee
  • Link Onboarding to Learning-RWD Technologies

Are you modernizing your way of onboarding?

January 25, 2012

Gen Y: concept marketing ou GRH?

Lors du business breakfast organisé ce matin par l’ULG-HEC à BOZAR, nous avons remis en question la notion de Gen Y, dans le domaine des GRH: la Gen Y existe-t-elle vraiment? Si oui, ses drivers et motivations au travail sont-ils différents de ceux des autres générations? Et enfin, comment aborder cette génération au travers de la politique de GRH?

Le panel d’experts présents, nous a démontré que la Gen Y, si elle existe bien en termes socio-démos, ne diffère pas fondamentalement des autres générations, lorsqu’il s’agit de ses besoins et motivations au travail.

Tout d’abord, Francois Pichaut, ici en sa qualité de président à l’Université de Liège  du centre de recherche-action (LENTIC) axé sur les aspects humains et organisationnels du changement et des processus d’innovation, nous a démontré que les différentes études ayant été menée en la matière (en provenance des Etats-unis pour la plupart) pêchent par un biais méthodologique rarement évoqué. Les affirmations de ces études et articles pseudo-scientifiques sont donc à prendre avec précaution.

Ensuite, les différents professionnels des GRH présents, dont Sandrine Gobbesso, Directrice des Ressources Humaines de RTL Belgium, ont tous affirmé que la Gen Y ne se distingue pas tant par ses besoins – sens, comprendre le pourquoi et le comment de sa fonction et des décisions, reconnaissance et feed-back rapides et réguliers, possibilités d’avancement rapides elles aussi (“impatience”), équilibre vie privée vs professionelle – que par son assertivité en la matière.

Là où leurs aînés, qui fondamentalement éprouvent les mêmes besoins, ne montent pas – ou plus- au créneau pour questionner un état de fait, les jeunes, qui au sein de leurs familles ont eu voix au chapitre, et avec lesquels les parents ont pris l’habitude de “négocier”, adoptent la même attitude en entreprise.

Il s’agit donc pour les GRH et le management de répondre aus défis suivants:

– communiquer avec cette génération, en utilisant ses canaux et son style privilégiés, pour prendre en compte ses besoins

– dans le même temps cadrer et recadrer ce qui n’est pas adéquat en terme de comportement, respect des codes de l’entreprise ou résultats

– intégrer les valeurs qui sont communes à  l’ensemble des travailleurs: reconnaissance, sens de la mission de l’entreprise et de ma place au sein de celle-ci, feed-back et valorisation immédiats, mobilité au sein de l’entreprise, apport de compétences nouvelles, plaisir, “fun” etc au sein d’une marque employeur forte

– définir une stratégie RH qui remet ces aspirations au centre de la relation employeur/travailleur et qui se traduit en politiques concrètes et cohérentes, du recrutement à la mobilité interne, en passant par l’évaluation et la politique salariale

– si besoin de segmentation GRH il y a au sein d’une entreprise, celle-ci doit se faire bien plus selon les phases de vie/besoins des travailleurs que selon des critères socio-démo

– soutenir le management dans son approche de cette nouvelle génération en lui permettant de s’en approprier les outils et les codes, et en valorisant l’apport des travailleurs plus âgés

En conclusion, la Gen Y a surtout comme mérite de parler haut et clair, de ne pas s’embarrasser de faux-semblants et nous rappelle tous à nos fondamentaux: avoir un job enrichissant, dans un cadre motivant, avec un management qui encadre et soutient, le tout avec un minimum de plaisir et dans une entreprise qui fait sens.

Serons-nous à même d’y répondre?




January 15, 2012

Le CEO, premier DRH de son entreprise?

A la lecture du très intéressant article de Franck La Pinta (Follow @flapinta), Responsable Marketing Web et RH 2.0 sur son site “L’Inde, nouveau terrain d’innovation pour les GRH?”, que je ne pouvais que lire, vu mon intérêt pour ces 3 sujets, il est frappant de constater que l’initiative de faire de l’humain la priorité de ces entreprises innovantes n’est ni l’initiative du marketing, ni des GRH, mais bien des CEO’s, lesquels sont les premiers à avoir un oeil rivé sur les performances de leurs entreprises.


Je crois peu au hasard. Aussi, j’ai dans la même semaine terminé la lecture du livre de Vineet Nayar, Président de HCLT « les employés d’abord, les clients ensuite », et lu une interview de Narayana Murthy, PDG d’Infosys, une autre entreprise IT indienne. Le point commun à ces deux chefs d’entreprise : repenser le modèle traditionnel des entreprises et mettre le collaborateur au premier plan de leurs préoccupations. Pourquoi ces deux exemples se retrouvent en Inde, portés par le PDG, et dans les IT ? Faut-il y voir un nouveau laboratoire d’expérimentation du management ?

Ce que dit Vineet Nayar : Il faut redonner le rôle central aux collaborateurs, notamment ceux créateurs de valeur, (Vineet Nayar parle de « zone de création de valeur”), entendez ceux en contact direct avec les clients. Aujourd’hui, l’organisation, la structure et le management des entreprises est plus souvent un frein qu’un facilitateur à la création de valeur, et à l’épanouissement de ces collaborateurs. Vineet Nayar insiste sur la nécessité de créer des conditions qui favorisent la confiance et la transparence, notamment dans la communication, indispensable pour développer l’engagement et favoriser l’innovation. D’après l’auteur, une hiérarchie pesante, qui concentre les pouvoirs et reste maître de l’information ne peut répondre aux enjeux d’une environnement fluctuant, imprevisible et hyper compétitif.

Ce que dit Narayana Murthy : Ce sont les êtres humains qui font la réussite de l’entreprise et donc, la qualité des logiciels développés est directement liée à la valeur, aux compétences et au bien-être des collaborateurs. L’entreprise doit faire quelque chose pour chacun de ses employés. Je comprends qu’il s’agit de ne pas se concentrer uniquement sur les traditionnels « futurs hauts potentiels » ou autres « talents ». N. Murthy est également très fier de son campus, un centre de formation qui accueille chaque nouveau recruté pendant 6 mois, au cours desquels les nouveaux collaborateurs sont payés :« Au lieu de d’avoir à payer pour étudier, nous les payons pour qu’ils étudient. »

La situation des IT en Inde : Les entreprises de IT sont confrontées à un turn over extrêmement important, favorisé par un fort développement de l’activité (plus de 7% estimés pour 2011). La présence de nombreuses implantations d’entreprises occidentales alimente une tension sur le marché de l’emploi, malgré les 75 000 nouveaux diplômés en IT chaque année, complétés par les centaines de milliers de jeunes ingénieurs (hors IT) qui rejoignent également, pour une large part, les entreprises IT. A noter qu’en deux ans, le nombre de travailleurs étrangers en Inde a augmenté de 200 %. Cette croissance est portée par une volonté forte du gouvernement indien qui a investi des sommes considérable pour développer des infrastructures fonctionnelles, par exemple à Bangalore. Ajoutons à cela un système politique stable et une maîtrise de l’anglais.

Une raison culturelle : La société indienne reste assimilée à la logique des castes. Pourtant, cette organisation est de plus en plus remise en cause, notamment chez les jeunes générations, qui aspirent à davantage de libertés dans leurs choix individuels. Mais cette critique des castes porte également sur son inefficacité en matière de progrès, notamment économique. En échangeant avec de jeunes diplômés indiens, cette remise en cause d’une organisation trop stricte et rigide de la société gagne également l’organisation de l’entreprise. Nos deux PDG répondent ainsi à des attentes nouvelles fortes de la part de leurs jeunes collaborateurs : les GenY sont aussi en Inde !

Quel enseignement pour les RH ? A aucun moment la contribution des RH n’est évoquée dans ces 2 exemples. Cela signifierait que ce nouvel état d’esprit qui souffle sur ces deux entreprises n’est pas à l’initiative des RH, mais uniquement de leurs patrons ? C’est-à-dire des membres de l’entreprise qui, plus que tous autres, ont les yeux rivés sur leurs résultats ? Le bien-être des collaborateurs n’est pas présenté comme une fin en soi (le plus souvent hypocritement il faut bien le reconnaître) mais véritablement comme un préalable indispensable à la réussite de l’entreprise. La valeur du capital humain, que l’on semble redécouvrir à l’aune de la crise, a dans la plupart des entreprises, le plus grand mal à trouver une véritable existence au-delà des discours RH. Pourtant, ces deux exemples tendent à prouver qu’un nouveau modèle associant étroitement (mais avec sincérité et réelle volonté) « efficacité » et « bien-être des collaborateurs » est possible, alors que l’on a encore le plus grand mal à ne pas les opposer : une piste nouvelle pour un vrai marketing RH ?



January 10, 2012

10 presentations on Social Media in HR & Recruiting

I utilize several resources to keep on top of what’s new and who’s saying what in the worlds of recruiting, social recruiting and human resources – and one of my favorite resources is

Lately, there have been several informative and helpful presentations uploaded related to using social media in HR and using social media for recruiting. Here are 10 favorites, with special thanks to Jennifer McLure, from Unbridledtalent.

January 7, 2012

Recruter sur Twitter: Get Started

Je vous invite à télécharger ce document extrêmement pratique, très clair et qui présente une approche step-by-step

Au passage, j’en profite pour féliciter son auteur que vous trouverez sur

Read more sur le blog Comment Recruter

January 5, 2012

What you get is what you give, Gen Y Recruitment

Gen Y is particularly sensitive to Corporate Social Responsability. Learn in this article, posted on TalentMinded, how you can make this work for your brand as an employer.

With special thanks to Autumn McReynolds for great content!

Showcase Community Involvement: A Recruitment Marketing Lesson in Giving Back

January 3rd, 2012
Use Recruitment Marketing to Tell Candidates Your Story About Charity Work

When competing for talent in a tough market, intangibles like company culture can help give you the edge when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best. A recent study from Deloitte found that 61% of Millennials who rarely or never volunteer consider a company’s commitment to the community when choosing an employer.

While there’s traditional community involvement and providing new ways for employees to volunteer, social giving projects create a unique opportunity to give back, showcase your company’s dedication to the community and grow your talent network at the same time.

Decide What Matters

Flipping their motto “Chase What matters” to “Decide What Matters,” Chase’s Community Giving program recently gave $3 million in charitable donations to over 100 charities – all based on votes. The highest-voted charity received $250,000 for their cause, and the other top 99 also received funds.

Recruitment Marketing Lesson in Giving Back

While your organization might not have the resources to donate millions of dollars, you can still find ways to creatively leverage your existing community involvement through social media and other recruitment marketing techniques. Another great example of giving back via social media is SCA’s Red Cross campaign, which donated 1 Euro to the Red Cross for each new fan gained throughout the month of November.

Chase’s Community Giving campaign also exemplifies lesson number nine from our consumer to recruitment marketing campaign lessons – making content sharable. Because different charities and their supporters were awarded funds based on their number of votes, Chase made it easy to share, “like” and comment on favorites.

By following their lead and giving back to the community, potential employees are more likely to consider you an employer of choice. And remember, don’t be shy about sharing charity and volunteer opportunities with your talent community. You can post photos and testimonials on your corporate careers site or Facebook careers page for more visibility.;cookie=info;kvwb=i;

Mandy Cornish

Author: Mandy Cornish

Mandy Cornish graduated with a degree in journalism and when that didn’t pan out (surprise, surprise), she found a new home in social media marketing. She also works to create unique events throughout Chicago with her company, Booth25. Connect with Mandy on Twitter @setsko or at

December 19, 2011

Gamification as a Reward and Recognition system for Gen Y?

In this article recently published by Wharton Knowledge, you’ll read how gamification can be used across your business but also as an HR tool to engage with and motivate your co-workers…be it Gen Y or not.

Or if your prefer to listen in, here is the audio version:

“Gamification may be a new term to most people, but for many members of the business community, it has come to signify a new way to create value for their companies, customers and employees, among others. What exactly is gamification, what is it not, and how will it be changing the way we do business in the next few years? Knowledge@Wharton asked these questions and others to Wharton’sKevin Werbach; Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball, a tech company that enables businesses to implement gamification, and Daniel Debow, co-founder of Rypple, a social performance management company. Werbach is a professor of legal studies and business ethics, and is the co-organizer, along with New York Law School professor Dan Hunter, of a two-day conference at Wharton on gamification titled, “For the Win: Serious Gamification.” 

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Thanks to all of you for coming. I’d like to begin with a question about what gamification is and how it is relevant to business. Kevin, do you want to start?

Kevin Werbach: Sure. I generally define gamification as the application of techniques or mechanisms from game design to business problems and other kinds of non-game problems. So when you think about it, what is it that makes a game fun, what is it that makes it engaging, what is it that makes people want to come back and use it? We can take some of those same techniques and apply them to making online experiences fun, potentially making work experiences more rewarding and potentially encouraging and motivating people to do other things that are beneficial.

Knowledge@Wharton: What would some examples of that be in the business world?

Rajat Paharia: There are a lot of great examples. To put a finer point on what Kevin was saying, at the end of the day it’s all about driving a certain kind of activity or behavior or participation. Every business out there is based on customers of some sort [engaging in] some kind of behavior, whether it’s purchasing something or subscribing to something or watching something. All of those drive business value for the business. So if you can drive that behavior among your consumers, your users, your customers, then you can drive real business value.

This can run the gamut anywhere from a media company that has television shows and wants to drive contact consumption and sharing — so I want more people to read blogs and watch videos and do things like that because that drives advertising revenue — to a company like Microsoft that wants to get people to use more of its products so that they are more likely to upgrade in the next upgrade cycle rather than use a competitive product. All the way to a B to B company using it to generate leads by having the great IT security competition where people can show off how much they know about IT security, and in the process the company generates leads and the people get a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and winning a competition.

Knowledge@Wharton: Daniel?

Daniel Debow: People have been doing contests for a long time, so gamification is an excellent name for a lot of people who are thematically bringing these ideas together…. There are actually games going on all the time in all sorts of things we do. That’s not really new, right? That’s game theory. That’s people thinking about the workplace in terms of rewards and competition. And then the second part of it is being really creative about different ways to solve the problems. That’s half of what gamification is; it is saying, “Hey, let’s break the barriers of what we’re doing and try and apply things from different domains.” The third part, and this is actually where I think we spend the most of our time, is design. It’s trying different ideas and really thinking about the human psychology of why people will engage in any behavior. At the end of the day, design and thinking creatively and recognizing what’s really happening and trying different things are absolutely central to innovation in business.

Knowledge@Wharton: We often hear about how the millennial generation needs to be constantly rewarded, praised, given feedback, etc. So to what extent is gamification a generational phenomenon?

Paharia: I actually don’t think it is, because it’s based on satisfying these fundamental human needs and desires we have for reward, status, achievement, competition, self expression, even altruism. Those things cross genders, they cross demographics, they cross any segmentation you want to apply. We’re all motivated by some combination of those. Maybe not by all of them, like I might not care about competition, but I will care about individual achievement and getting to the next goal or being recognized for something. And because of that, I think it’s easy to say that generation G, the kid generation that has grown up with Xbox Live, is especially motivated by these things. But you also see them motivating 43-year-old women in Farmville. And you see them motivating young adults in Xbox Live. And you see them motivating kids in Club Penguin. You know, 50 plus, 100K income plus on sites like Comcast, right? It’s fundamentally human, and because of that it applies to everybody.

Debow: Yes, when we first started explaining the idea for Rypple and we were trying to apply a lot of these concepts to something that people think is pretty painful — performance management, getting feedback at work — people said exactly that. It doesn’t matter what age group; it depends on who you are and what motivates you, what makes you think differently. And again, I would go back and say part of the insight is that people have been playing games at work for a very long time. The rewards are different, but status like corner offices and titles, these are things that people are rewarded for and motivated by…. Gamification is just pushing that envelope.

A quick anecdote: I remember a long time ago I went to law school and my civil procedure professor said, “I want you to understand that the legal system is just a giant game.” So the idea that you can look at a system of how humans interact as a game is not unique to what I think gamification is doing today.

Werbach: Yes, it’s important to distinguish games from gamification, and they often do get mixed together. But there’s fascinating, important developments in terms of the significance of games. So the video game industry is a $50 billion business. It’s bigger than Hollywood by most metrics. The vast majority of people under a certain age have grown up with video games their entire life, not just the millennial generation, but people in the workplace, in their 30s, 40s and even 50s are familiar with these kinds of interfaces and techniques. So there’s a great deal that’s interesting that’s happening around games.

But gamification specifically is about taking things from games and putting them into things that are not games, per se. So this is not about going into an immersive 3D world, for example, to do simulation and training where you put a pilot in something that feels like the plane cockpit. That’s what I would call a serious game. It’s related. But it’s something that’s recognizably a game, a virtual environment.

What companies like Rajat’s and Dan’s do is take those techniques and put them into situations that don’t necessarily feel like a game. They don’t necessarily look like a game, but they are and they take advantage of what games can do. And as they said, that can really apply across the board to any demographic.

Knowledge@Wharton: Can you give some more examples of those applications in the business world?

Werbach: Some of the ones that are frequently pointed to as examples: Nike has a system called Nike Plus where they put a little accelerometer into your shoes and you can keep track of your runs and then plug it into your computer and do competitions with your friends, track and see leader boards. Four Square uses point systems and leader boards and concepts like being the mayor. Those are some of the examples that people are familiar with and talk about a lot.

But really what these other two guys are doing and the other companies are doing is more significant because they are solving particular business problems as opposed to just building a stand alone service as a game. So I’ll let them comment more specifically.

Debow: Ours is not a platform to do this in any context. Ours applies to a very specific and often painful problem. People don’t like performance reviews because the world of work has changed so much in the last 50 years. But the way we’ve been managing people hasn’t changed. Our insight was why don’t we apply these techniques to make the process of getting feedback, recognition, setting goals to be much more real time, social and collaborative.

So a simple example: People today would send an e-mail and say, “Hey, you did a good job on that.” And then it’s lost. So we wanted to, for lack of a better term, gamification it by allowing people to create a badge, to send it to a peer, to add meaning to the badge, and then allow others to see why this person got recognized. The key thing is it doesn’t go away. It becomes part of your personal profile forever. Very quickly we began to learn that people started to create value. They started to value this thing that they were being given because it was meaningful. But also it added to their long-term reputation, and they viewed their career as something they wanted to build credible brand around. If they could point people back to all this thanks that they had received and all these badges which were instances of that thanks, they felt it added to their reputation. That’s a simple example of gamification at work.

Paharia: My company provides a technology platform that any business owner can take and integrate into their content or their experience in order to drive whatever particular behavior drives business value for them. That can be used in B to C type arenas. We have many major media companies using our platform to drive content consumption and sharing around their television properties, like “Psych” and “Burn Notice,” etc. They want people to consume more content because it’s an ad revenue driven business. And so therefore they generate more money.

We also have companies using us internally now, so this is, I don’t know what you’d call it, B to E? Business to employee? For sales incentive programs today, the way that most of them work is you sell something and you go put in a PO number in a little system and it says, “Here’s 10,000 points, go buy some golf clubs.” That’s the entire experience. When really salespeople are inherently competitive, so shouldn’t you be having high score tables and real time news feeds and people leveling up and giving them missions, both long-term and short-term, to accomplish? To say, “Here’s the long-term quarter-long goal. And here’s this week, sell 10 more Cisco routers and you’re going to get a spiff.” That kind of thing. Use game mechanics to drive that. All the way down to where you see companies like Kias and Shape Up the Nation using it to get employees to exercise and [improve their] health to drive down health care costs.

Knowledge@Wharton: So how durable is this concept? You have mentioned some obvious and perhaps less serious things like getting badges, leader boards, being the mayor of a location in Four Square, in addition to more sophisticated uses. But isn’t burnout an inevitable side effect when there is widespread adoption?

Werbach: I would say we’re very early, so there’s a lot of hype about gamification and a great deal of excitement. But it’s just at the beginning of the curve. It’s the way social media was and even electronic commerce before that. A great deal of excitement, some early examples, and then what happened was people burnt out on the kind of early simple uses. But then when you step back from a perspective of five years or 10 years, you realize that the impact has been even greater than we anticipated. So whether the term gamification sticks, the kinds of practices that are going on that these companies are doing, and others are doing, I think are enduring because they come back to real enduring problems. How do you motivate people inside your company, outside your company and how do you make things engaging? And that’s something that’s just simply not going to go away.

Paharia: I think social is actually a really good analogy. So Myspace explodes. Friendster explodes. Everybody on the Internet says, “I need social on my website.” And then it even moves into corporate, right? At some point, the same legitimate question gets asked: Aren’t people going to get tired of interacting with all of these different social systems? I think the answer is, yes, people will interact with the ones that they want to interact with and they’ll ignore the rest. So just because The New York Times has commentary on it doesn’t mean I interact with it, doesn’t mean I even read it. I go there for a very specific purpose…. I’ll interact with it where I want to, where it’s compelling for me. And in other places I won’t.

Debow: I’d add two comments. One is that people are experimenting. I think it’s even inherent in what we’re trying to do, which is to try different things and see what works. It’s almost part of the design. But two things I think will stand out — those games that are designed at work around intrinsic motivators, so it’s very quick. You can spike any type of behavior for a short period of time and then you get the burn out. But the examples that are enduring are the ones that appeal to things people really genuinely like to do or want to do — you gave the example of wanting to run — or are based on behaviors that people already engage in before the game came along. Four Square was really based on the observation that people would send text messages to their friends and say, “I’m here.” And so they said, “Let’s build a game around that to amplify that.” I think that’s the one side that you’ll see.

I think the second side is to remember just because [something] has a game element doesn’t make it a good game. There’s lots of video games that fail all the time, and they have lots of leader boards and badges. And similarly you’ll see that in the workspace. The ones that will last are the ones that go back to the initial proposition, the ones that are really well designed and that really get at something core that people really, genuinely want to do.

Werbach: If I could jump back in, that’s one reason that I’ve started a project here at Wharton called “For The Win” with Dan Hunter at New York Law School to try to get at what’s deep and what’s enduring here. We’re engaged in a number of activities to try to kick start serious research and analysis. We believe that this is a major, important, enduring phenomenon, but it is important to look deeply and separate out the wheat from the chaff.

Knowledge@Wharton: Do you see a way where gamification could fail, where it’s used in the wrong way or it’s overemphasized in the wrong direction? Is there any down side to this phenomenon?

Paharia: Yes, absolutely. Like any other tool, methodology, it can be used poorly, and it can have unintended consequences or results.

There have been several stories on the Internet of people doing high score tables and competition around things that they probably shouldn’t be, and driving the wrong kind of behavior. Or rewarding people for making forum posts. Well, if you’re going to reward that, then people are going to be typing garbage in the forum post just to get the reward. Right? You’re not rewarding the right behavior, which should be quality discourse. And so you really want to be rewarding people for getting a good thumbs up on their comments and things like that. To Dan’s point earlier, design is a really important part of this and thinking really clearly about what you are trying to motivate and how you should motivate it.

Werbach: Any system can be abused because any system can be gamed. And it turns out the people who understand that the best because they think about it every moment are the game designers. I agree with Rajat completely. There’s a real risk but it also, if you follow through this technique thoughtfully, it also has the kinds of mechanisms to counteract that.

Debow: I think that’s the right point. Our lead designer has been very successful building other sorts of social games. He’s actually quite cautious about us experimenting and implementing these things because of exactly that, because you can create incentives that have very perverse results — not any different from any other incentive design system…. And so we’re very careful when we do things at work.

I’ll give you a simple example. Most people think money would incent people to behave and encourage them in one direction. And in fact, even in the consumer web space, a company called Drop Box has exploded in growth because of a very clever two-sided incentive that basically gives you free stuff if you share the product. We experimented with something like that at work, gave people $25 if they shared it. What we found is that people actually were far less likely to share Rypple at work when we offered them a monetary incentive, and much more likely when we removed it and made it much more intrinsic.

But I don’t think these are failures…. You simply have to try things. The good news about gamification is that you tend to not have massive collapses in the financial system when you implement one wrong. You learn pretty quickly.

I think one other point we probably haven’t mentioned but should: Gamification is very data driven. You are absolutely looking in real time at how people react and what are they clicking through and how are they behaving. Because they’re often implemented in a video game context, you can do experiments, little ones. If we change the wording, how do people behave now? If we change the position of the leader board, does that change how people do it? And I think that’s part of the ethos of design about how you build these systems. So you tend to figure these things out as you’re implementing a process to try to change any sort of behavior.

Knowledge@Wharton: So let’s assume that gamification becomes a central part of a company’s strategy, more and more in the next five years. How would a company actually go about implementing this? Would it be the responsibility of the chief marketing officer or the chief technology officer or the chief information officer? What would be the most strategic approach to getting this rolling?

Paharia: It all depends on the application. So if it’s a business to consumer, if I’m trying to get consumers to do more behavior, then it’s typically head of product or head of digital product. If it is a marketing campaign — we’ve worked with Rite Guard, Victoria’s Secret and others — then it is the head of marketing. If it’s the person responsible for the health and wellness of the organization, then it’s typically HR. And if it’s the sales incentive manager, then it’s the head of sales. It’s a very flexible kind of fluid system that can be used anywhere where there are people to be motivated. And because of that, there are different buyers depending on the actual application.

Debow: Absolutely. We find that we’ll get very senior managers, VP of sales, VP of product who will want to implement something like what we’re doing because we see this as a management problem. But often we’ll talk to tons of HR people. Facebook is one of our biggest customers, and there it’s the HR department that’s initially brought us in but then was embraced by their engineers. So you’ll find different pockets depending on the problem.

I think one thing that’s important about strategically implementing this is understanding that it’s not as simple as asking your 14-year-old kid, “Show me the video game you’re playing,” and then trying to implement that at work. I mean it’s funny, but I think sometimes that’s where a lot of these failures occur. It is a well advised thing to engage with people who have deep experience in human psychology, motivation and game design. As you mentioned, it’s a $50 billion business. This is not a bunch of kids in their basement. This is a large industry that has a large body of knowledge about how to design things that work. And you know, Bunchball’s a great firm, a great example of, “Hey, how can we bring an expertise to bear?”

Knowledge@Wharton: We have about one minute left. Would anyone like to make a final point?

Werbach: I think we’ve covered the right kind of ground. I think it behooves businesses and people in all contexts to try to understand what’s going on with this phenomenon and not dismiss it out of hand, but also not to get caught up in the hype. But I’m tremendously excited by what I’m seeing, especially its breadth — ranging from academics to start ups to large companies in lots of different fields, [including] social impact. Even the U.S. government is looking at applying these techniques. Five or 10 years from now, everyone in business is going to have some understanding of gamification.

Knowledge@Wharton: This has been fascinating. Thank you all for coming by.”