How badges can help staff value one another

Everyone loves a badge, a label, a way of describing themselves or signposting what they do. As participants in the front-line of digital workplace technology, how can you conduct your own social experiment into how your employees interact with your intranet?

The idea of behavioural design has long been a favorite of psychologists. One of many tricks that designers, policy makers and company managers use to try and shape how people unconsciously behave.

One famous example (and now used in lots of places) is at Schiphol airport. Managers had a messy problem to deal with. Men, it turned out (a perennial problem!), were crap at aiming their pee and made a mess. The answer was deceptively simple. They printed an image of a fly inside each urinal. The effect was a dramatic improvement in aim, since the fly turned peeing into a game of target practice.

What was the lesson here? They had stumbled upon a more effective way to change behaviour than lambasting messy men with messaging and signage that would get ignored.

However, not all nudges work or in the way you intend. A common problem is that once you know you're being nudged, they get ignored. Or worse, they encourage new kinds of behaviour (e.g. deliberately ignoring the printed fly in the urinals).

How does this all relate to your digital workplace?

Nevertheless, nudges are increasingly being used in the workplace. Notwithstanding messy toilets, architects love to encourage staff to be more healthy by making lifts less accessible, or by motivating staff to be gently in competition with one another through awards, nominating one another for good work, or by using... badges.

These techniques work. The problem has always been proving it and providing hard and fast statistics. However, using badges and clever analytics within a company intranet, you can start to show how the intranet is affecting better collaboration, productivity and engagement. Badge creation can be monitored and the analytics can be used to show how it’s increasing engagement or networking.

How can you try this out?

You could start with three badges which can be displayed against a user’s profile, as on Unily. Each badge can have a points threshold based on usage and participation which can be gathered through analytics. This could be based on anything you like e.g. most social posts or reactions, most articles read, most areas of the intranet used. If users get a certain amount of points in these areas, they will eligible for a badge. But at the beginning of the month, the points will be zeroed and the whole badge process will start over.

Badge 1: Engaged

To get this badge, you have to be a regular reader of all published news and content each month. It will let others know that you are very engaged in all things going on – a fountain of knowledge!

Badge 2: Connector

This badge will demonstrate to others that you are a frequent contributor on internal social channels such as Yammer. To be awarded it, you must be a champion poster, liker and commenter on others' posts. The centre of our community!

Badge 3: Trailblazer

Being a trailblazer means you actively use a lot intranet functionality. Apps, Sites, Search to Documents are all a breeze to you! A real product evangelist!

You might want to adapt these badge suggestions to suit your own needs. Nevertheless, these three examples demonstrate how an individual who has earned a badge can help others – such as being a valuable connection to know, or because they are a proven fount of knowledge.

For any sceptics out there who think it’s a ploy for Managers to get them to work harder, make sure your leadership team are included too. As it’s about showing how everyone (not just the few usual suspects) are engaged in what is happening in and around the business, and are upping their game in contributing towards its success.

For the first month, make a song and dance on the intranet highlighting those people who’ve won their badges. Other suggestions include creating a campaign takeover on your homepage or a special round of communications to drum up interest. Once the dust has settled, re-visit your analytics and see if the campaign has bumped up your views, engagement or more widespread usage of the intranet platform.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules to using badges. It's a process of trial and error of working out what is right for your situation. But badges can be a useful tool to publicly recognise your staff for their effort and expertise, that reinforces your digital workplace as the hub of your company's community.

Get in touch to learn more about how an intranet can boost employee engagement.

Happy Badging!

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