Layered Process Audits/Published: August 15, 2019

How to Use Gamification Principles to Boost Audit Participation

ScotLarsen 4 Square Scaled
Published by
Scot Larsen
Read time: 4 mins

When Deloitte wanted to get people excited about employee training, the company decided to adopt a gamification strategy for its online training portal. Using elements like achievement badges, missions and leaderboards, they achieved a 37% increase in participation.

And when Ford Canada gamified its sales and service training, platform usage jumped a massive 417%, with big gains in engagement among younger employees.

Saying gamification makes work a game is an oversimplification. In reality, it’s all about leveraging proven psychological principles around our motivation to compete, encouraging habits and behavior that improve business performance.

These principles can also be used in manufacturing to increase engagement in audits, which are critical to quality but often suffer from low participation. Key gamification tools and techniques to consider include mobile apps, competitions and recognition programs.  

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Leverage Mobile Auditing Apps

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 4 in 10 Americans play video games today, and it’s not just young people who are playing. In fact, more than half of adults age 30-49 report playing video games, along with 1 in 3 in the 50-64 age range.

Most people spend hours on their smartphones and tablets every day, and many also use them to play games. A mobile audit platform takes advantage of these facts, creating a far more engaging experience than walking around with a pencil and clipboard.

Manufacturers can take it a step further by using mobile auditing apps that let people earn achievement badges showing that they’ve completed a certain number of audits. Achievement badges, like those found in smartphone and video games, help motivate people, and can ultimately help increase audit completion rates.

Challenge Your Team

Competition is central to the idea of gamification, and there are several ways manufacturers can harness the competitive spirit to improve audit participation.

What types of challenges can manufacturers use in the context of their audit programs?

  • Have departments compete: One way to leverage gamification principles is to create a little healthy competition among different departments or work cells. For example, you might set an audit completion rate goal of 90%, then challenge departments to meet or exceed that goal.
  • Beat the benchmarks: Industry benchmark data can provide excellent targets to aim for when trying to gamify parts of your audit program. Metrics you might focus on include audit completion rate, audit pass rates and proportion of audits resulting in action items.
  • Reward consistency: Audits work best when they’re completed consistently over time. Manufacturers can encourage consistent participation by creating challenges and awarding badges for completing a given number of audits on time.
  • Set a personal best: You can also challenge your team or individuals to outperform their own highest audit completion rate to date, or to maintain a certain level for as many weeks as possible. For example, the Beacon Quality mobile app now allows users to unlock achievement badges based on number of audits completed.

Of course, it’s important to carefully think through how you set up these challenges. For instance, challenging your team to improve completion or pass rates alone could lead to pencil-whipping, so you want to have safeguards in place. In this example, it would be important to monitor audit duration to make sure people aren’t just flying through and checking off boxes.

Communicate Results Often

Another essential component of gamification that quality leaders can apply to audit programs is tracking and communicating results frequently. Being able to see where they are in the standings helps motivate people, which is why leaderboards are such a common element of gamification platforms.

If you’re using an audit system with automated reporting, you can collect this data easily by setting up custom report templates that you can run as often as needed. You can then use that data to keep line-side visual management systems or white boards updated with rankings so team members can see where they stand.

It’s worth considering how often you’ll reset scores and structure the challenges. If the same people are always at the top of the leaderboard, it can hurt motivation. Companies have addressed this by breaking out different levels according to expertise, as well as resetting scores weekly. That way, people are competing with individuals at their same level of proficiency, and there’s always a chance for someone new to take the lead.

Create a Recognition Program

Every game has its winners, and recognizing those winners provides a key element of motivation when adding gamification elements to your audit program.

Will you give winners a prize like a small gift card, some company swag or possibly some extra PTO? Even if you don’t have the budget for those options, a printed award and/or recognizing team members publicly can make a big difference in getting people to participate.

And really, that’s what gamification is really about—injecting fun into tedious tasks, harnessing the spirit of competition and celebrating your champions however you can. With those elements in place, you can increase audit engagement for bigger, faster quality improvements.

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