ENGAGEMENT TAKES YOU FURTHER
It is shown that the emotional bonds nurture committed, valuable and lasting relationships. These relationships are the foundations for establishing motivation, commitment and loyalty amongst individuals and organizations.

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How does anyone even begin to ‘round-up’ the year we’ve all had? In our personal and professional lives, most of us have experienced such vast challenges and significant change that it is hard to believe it has been 12 months and not 24. Though we may be turning a new page as we move to the new year, it is not an entirely new story, and in 2021 many businesses will most likely continue to grapple with different ups-and-downs and the effects of 2020.

That said, we believe what also lies ahead is an opportunity to make a real difference by reassessing and improving approaches, focussing on the people at the heart of businesses, communities, organisations, and society, to achieve success in spite of uncertainty.

So instead of rounding up 2020 as if the story were over, we thought we’d look back on the themes and pieces that most appealed to people’s needs and interests over the year. Reflection and food for thought, as the collective journey towards new approaches, strategies and innovation continues into 2021 and beyond.

  1. Keeping Teams Connected & Empowered

This year teams had to act and adapt quickly to new circumstances, conflicting priorities, and different strategies. A need like never before to think creatively and innovatively in how challenges were met. With many moving to remote working or facing heightened demand, lots of us looked for ways to keep employees feeling productive, fulfilled, and motivated – through digital solutions.

In 2021, there will no doubt be a new round of challenges to face in supporting and sustaining an engaged, committed, and productive workforce in what will still be difficult business conditions. Here are our 3 most popular posts from this year looking at employee engagement, to help spark ideas for 2021:

  1. Customer Care, Concern and Connection

In a recent study, 70% of European based executives stated that the current coronavirus pandemic was accelerating the pace of their digital transformation. This year saw brands across all sectors make herculean efforts to try and stay connected to their customers, some even diversifying the services they offered in order to sustain the customer bond. Digital experiences inevitably became the only vehicle for staying in touch, and while technology is amazing because of its reach and flexibility, it is just a vehicle at the end of the day.
It is people who we want to connect to, build relationships with, and learn from their motivations, reactions, and needs. Human crises require human responses.

Is 2021 the year to flip our thinking on digital transformation and focus in on how it can deliver better connection, empathy, and engagement? Here are our 3 most popular posts from this year that looked at building better relationships and engagement with customers:

  1. Future Values

Over these past few months, we have all had time to think and reflect on the way we live our lives. Crises often have the effect of bringing our core values into focus, and by having a number of our old routines and habits taken away from us, we’ve maybe been reminded of what we think is important. Furthermore, more than ever before people are expecting the brands around them to stand for something. Businesses are now being pushed beyond their classic interests to become advocates for a better society.

Euromonitor’s 2020 Sustainability Survey found that COVID-19 has brought social purpose to the fore, with two thirds of surveyed companies defining sustainability as “supporting local communities”, a 15% increase compared to the previous year. Accenture reports 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices.

As we all reassess what practices and approaches we want to represent our values in 2021, here are our 3 most popular posts on the emerging power of values and ethics in society.

The art of designing attractive and effective digital engagement solutions

Are the rules of reality broken? We have become used to dividing areas or putting things in their specific boxes. Work is serious. Games are fun. Learning is serious. Creativity is fun. Problem solving – serious or fun? When we dive into the world of game thinking or game design, often grouped together under the term of Gamification, the well-defined barrier between serious contexts and play falls away. Why apply game elements to traditionally serious contexts? To get the most out of all aspects of life, sometimes we need to add more play!

Now, reality can be much more attractive and entertaining thanks to “Serious Play Experiences”.

“Serious Play Experiences”, are situations where fun narratives and game elements can be introduced without losing sight of the serious objectives driving them (for example: incentivising recycling across communities, reducing employee turnover, sustaining interest in learning materials). Often because of the serious nature of such contexts, applying fun elements can significantly enhance motivation, commitment and participation – resulting in a successful achievement of objectives.

Doesn’t sound like something you’d use? You might be surprised, as there are more examples out there than you probably think.

Mixed serious gaming experiences, not just digital

By adding face-to-face challenges, the experience can help to build social relationships or interpersonal skills in the process. This can be seen in educational contexts/scenarios, where the “escape room” concept has been adapted to provide a fun yet educational classroom learning experience. For example, Breakout Edu where as well as having an immersive game platform, players also have to work face-to-face collaboratively to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles to open a locked box. These experiences rely on a very collaborative narrative plot. When this dynamic is replicated within a digital context, the solution can include multiple communication channels and a virtual social area that further increases the feeling of community and positive group identity.

Serious gaming experiences in virtual reality environments

This is one of the most prominent emerging trends in Serious Play Experiences in the last few years. Virtual reality offers infinite possibilities due to its great versatility. A lot of use can be seen within training contexts, both educational and corporate, especially where very specific training or practice is required (such as unconscious bias training for example).

From a gamification point of view, virtual reality reinforces the weight of game elements such as avatars and non-linear or open plot narration, substantially improving users sense of freedom.

Are you interested in gamification?

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Gaming experiences in augmented reality environments

Many examples are also appearing in the market of this type of initiative. To name a few: “Zombie Run”, “Ring fit” and “Peloton”. These experiences rely on a mission structure. Each mission includes challenges that gradually increase the difficulty to increase participant’s sense of progress. To support this, other game elements are added such as the progress bar, badges and points, which reinforce the perception of autonomy and self-improvement.

So, how are serious contexts “seasoned” with the right amount of play, to ensure the objective is still met? And how could they work for you and your organisation? Let’s take a look at the solution-design steps required for taking users toward fulfilling objectives.

  1. User-centric analysis:

Before getting stuck in, it’s important to carry out a detailed analysis of the situation your target audience or objectives are operating within. You will need to understand information about the context and the users’ behaviours, characteristics, game preferences and digital skills, to be able to create a solution that will integrate easily into everyday life.

  1. Include effective components:

With client and user needs forming the foundations, you can next include the necessary components to build the actual journey or strategy of the solution. By basing or choosing components with an understanding of Behavioural Science, you can create a path that users will actually want to follow and that will feel intuitive to them.  The different parts need to consider user characteristics and preferences (collected from the previous step) as well as client requirements. The aim of the game is of course to deliver results and achieve the determined objective, but this will only be successful if you provide an experience that people feel able to collaborate in.

  1. Integrate game elements:

Making people want to take part, rather than feel they have to is a powerful motivation. Here is where introducing gamification is useful. It is no secret that people do better at something when they enjoy the activity itself. Applying game elements to a mundane or even dreary process (imagine if compliance training could be enjoyable) does not mean you simply turn the experience into a game or lose all sense of seriousness. Elements can be discrete nudges or prompts, or recognition of a user’s progress, spurring them to stick with the process or activity, boosting their motivation and commitment. To ensure a more fulfilling, engaging experience, you’re ultimately looking to weave together three interconnecting gamified structures: the narrative, the challenges, and the energisers.

Following us so far? Let’s look at an example to see how it all comes to life.

A large hotel chain was looking to reduce its high staff turnover by implementing new corporate values and culture that would hopefully encourage commitment to the brand. They needed an effective vehicle to deliver the information in a way that would stick with the employees, engaging them in the workplace and reducing feelings of detachment.

Digital solutions, either web or mobile applications, are easily accessible to wide audiences and often help to set experiences outside of the ‘real world’. In a digital solution, participants feel they can attempt challenges, immerse themselves in situations, and progress without the pressure of a manager looking over their shoulders. This means you can provide environments that resemble real life, with fewer real-life stresses.

Digital solutions also help ensure the same information reaches all people in the same way, standardising and centralising processes – such as the hotel chain communicating the new corporate values and culture. With all employees receiving the same core message, the next step is to help employees engage with this content and ultimately embody it.

Here is where we could introduce a learning by doing strategy (or learning through play). First you plot what the strategy of the solution should overcome, with an understanding of what the users need. Feelings of detachment can be resolved through tapping into people’s need for mastery, purpose, and achievement. Presenting the disillusioned employees with the chance to prove themselves and feel they are improving, which in turn gives their managers the cue to recognise this improvement. The strategy helps employees feel that they contribute to the overall success of the company and their contribution is valued. So we can look at gamifying three core steps to the strategy: a) provide opportunities to overcome challenges and improve, b) provide content and materials for employees to learn from and train with, c) foster and promote a positive environment where good work is recognised and encouraged.          

Next: how to get people involved. A narrative structure always helps to increase individual’s interest in participating. This can be achieved by introducing an appealing plot that will engage participants and encourage them to follow and commit to the process. In this example, the employees of the hotel could be invited to join a virtual hotel (call to action) as virtual staff, attending to visiting customers. They are presented with different scenarios and opportunities (challenges) where they have to demonstrate the new brand values and behaviours, earning virtual currency or levelling up when they successfully overcome their challenges.

Designing meaningful “Serious Gaming Experiences” that make an impact or drive change is a complex but rewarding process, requiring the designer to consider a multitude of perspectives in the process. All of the elements have to work in harmony with each other to create a balanced experience, that drive the desired results. If the experience is too much like a game or too removed from reality, the core message becomes diluted. When an experience doesn’t take the participant’s needs and motivations into consideration it runs the risk of turning people off from engaging. Daily life is full of distractions and examples of innovation at our fingertips. Is it crazy to consider people’s expectations and attention need more stimulation in the experiences you offer?

Like most aspects of life and learning, you will get more out of any solution if you add a little play!

Written in collaboration by Marta Calderero & Andrzej Marczewski

A friend made fun of me recently as we looked at booking a weekend away. Within seconds of us deciding on a city, I’d started ‘the list’. “Remember to schedule in ‘have fun’ somewhere between 11am and 11pm” they texted.

“The list” is where I- you guessed it- list out the key things to see, visit, eat in any destination I’m headed to. It’s begun to frequently take the form of a shared Google doc with whoever I’m going with, and yes, it does eventually start to develop schedule-like symptoms. Times where we might be leaving the hotel, when we could make dinner reservations, how long it could take to walk from one monument to the next and look there’s even a great ice cream place along the way for a pit stop at 3.17 on Friday.

Before you sign me up for a crash course in spontaneity, I should reassure you that I rarely ever follow ‘the list’ word for word. I’ll end up wandering around, see a street sign I recognise from my searches and remember that an interesting tea house/museum is nearby. In reality, this list is simply where I collect parts of a puzzle that I get to put together as I go along. My own personalised travel recommendations that I collect as I get excited about the upcoming trip. It’s inspired by the Facebook album I scrolled through, the Lonely Planet article I read, the Instagram pictures I pictured myself in. TripAdvisor recommendations, local food blogs, the hotel review that caught my eye because the building has an interesting back story. On my phone I’ve gone exploring, piecing together an experience I’d want to live. You could say it’s a millennial specific affliction. Really, it’s the same day-dreaming we’ve all done at our desks or on our daily commute. However, through the rise of social media and enhanced digital photography, we can now delve deeper into that “Wish You Were Here” feeling, and it’s something travel marketing professionals are really beginning to mine into it.

“I’m the Hero in this Story”

Recent research has pointed out that 80% of people trust the opinion of friends and family when it comes to booking a holiday. The survey found that people were less likely to use sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook or Twitter as primary sources for recommendation. Stats like these reinforce what we’re seeing across industries: recommendations and references are becoming principal purchasing influencers. The results or trends aren’t suggesting that the reach of social media should be ignored when advertising or sharing a message. However what that message conveys is important. Part of the work we do at Motivait is to reintroduce personal touches or user centricity back into processes and experiences. Our solutions rely on UX and UI research to make sure we design something that will tap into those emotional, intrinsic motivators. Why are people influenced by their best friend’s album from their #amazingadventure? Because when they see someone they personally relate to enjoying an experience, they can picture themselves enjoying it too.

Travellers, more than ever before, are able to engage with the stories and experiences of a place so that they’ve bought into their potential holiday before they’ve even booked anything. While tourism may have often been considered a stable and unchanging industry- people are always going to want a holiday- today’s digital platforms are offering an opportunity for organisations, councils, and national bodies to flex their creative muscles. People still want a holiday. But they can also now picture and curate the holiday experience they could have. And they would thrive on the chance to see themselves as the protagonist of that story or experience.

Better still, travel and tourism bodies can deliver experiences that connect with audiences they may have lost touch with. Museums or galleries that would have once got an eye-roll from younger generations, could present a story or path to follow that ignites the explorer within. Could a city famous for its lamb dishes offer a route where the vegetarian traveller can still come away giving it a 10/10 for gastronomy? The potential to connect with your audience can be limitless; as long as you remember to put them at the heart of the destination.

MOTIVAIT | Embracing Digital is only half the story

Everywhere we look these days we see digital transformation is a top priority item on the corporate ‘to do’ list. External comms to customers and prospects, internal comms to employees and partners – expanding the reach and accessibility of content farther and wider than ever before.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the third sector. A recent report published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, Stronger Charities for a stronger society, devotes a whole chapter to the use of digital technology in the third sector, saying that the integration of digital technologies into people’s lives and the changing nature of communications, particularly through social media, have significantly changed the environment that charities can operate within. Read more

Lately I’ve been thinking back over my career to the times when I have felt most engaged. Having been immersed in the world of engagement and motivation for the last 6 months at Motivait, I’ve so far found that many people and organisations often have very different ways of determining or measuring engagement, as well as different methods of igniting it in the workplace. Some have been considering engagement surveys, others are revamping office layouts, or improving communication tools, or even encouraging more flexible working hours. Read more

Engagement

Nobody said that inspiring Engagement was simple or easy, quite the contrary. It is in itself a challenging, complex process. Before launching heads first into any project, the first stop is always to consider how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to design a successful, meaningful solution.
Initially, participants can often show lack of interest for reality because they have learned, day after day, that situation does not add any real value to them (learned irrelevance). Read more