Game-changing Sustainability

What’s in a game? Depending on which game you are playing you might say: chance, imagination, strategy, fun, intrigue, concentration, challenge, excitement, competition, reward, sport, and team building. Interestingly, most of these words might also be used to describe the work environment in many of the companies ranked highest in annual “best places” to work polls. So, what if you could gamify your workplace for a purpose? What if you could capture all of those stimulating attributes of game-playing in an employee engagement process to embed sustainability into your company’s core values; into its very DNA? What if you could leverage the power of game-playing to establish a sustainability knowledge baseline and framework that would enable and motivate all your employees to contribute, ideate, and innovate more sustainable processes, products, or business systems?

I’d argue that you would likely see a creative disruption born of cause-based inspiration and the kind of business transformation that would take companies well beyond doing less bad (where sustainability has gotten most companies today) to becoming more resilient and restorative contributors to human and planetary health. Imagine a world where business and nature thrive in harmony. The only way we are going to reach that required state is when we all recognize that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility. That’s what gamification for sustainability can do.

Okay, so I can hear all you naysayers – and I was most definitely one myself not so long ago – questioning the premise of gamification for any purpose in the workplace, let alone applying it to something as fundamentally important as sustainable development. But, let’s look at some recent statistics on employee engagement and gamification. A 2012 Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Watson found that companies with high levels of employee engagement reported same-year operating margins that were nearly three times higher than companies with low levels of engagement. Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, argues that turning a challenge into an interactive, even competitive, adventure provides employees with the purpose and motivation they need to get involved.

Still not convinced? Then see what others are saying about gamification and employee engagement, and think about the possibilities.  Sustainability leadership companies will recognize the power. Sustainability laggards will eventually play, too – but they’ll be playing catch up. Which do you want your company to be?

By the way, GreenBlue Advisory Services now offers The Sustainability Game as a powerful employee engagement tool. Originally developed as a “board” game to engage an internal corporate leadership team, we have evolved the game into an on-line, jeopardy-like competitive challenge that is a fun way to get all employees in an organization to better understand what sustainability is and why it is important to the organization and its bottom line. E-mail me to learn more.

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