I featured some research by Ethan Mollick back in March for Practically Friday. In his latest work with Nancy Rothbard, Mandatory Fun: Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work [available here], he looks at the impact of games at work. I didn’t realize that people often play games at work to make their experience more enjoyable (and hence, more productive – most often in service industries and on shop floors – apparently this has been going on since Ancient Egypt). Usually these games are employee-generated, but with their rise in popularity and the ubiquitous nature of video games, managers now develop their own games in order to improve employees’ experiences and make them work harder (known as gamification), and sometimes make these games mandatory.This is a huge trend in companies right now; Gartner predicted that 70 percent of Global 2000 companies would use gamification by 2014.
In Mollick and Rothbard’s new study, they looked at how games change the performance of salespeople at work. They found that when the games were voluntary, they had a positive effect on an employee’s experience, but when the employee did not consent to play the games and did so under duress, the games had a negative effect on experience and sometimes even the employee’s performance.
The practical lesson here for entrepreneurs and business owners? Games at work can be powerful, but they have a downside. If you decide to "gamify" your business, make sure to get buy-in from employees and make the experience voluntary. No one likes to be forced to have fun.
Today I’m discussing the forthcoming paper “Consumer
Reaction to Unearned Preferential Treatment” (available here)
by Lan Jiang, Joandrea Hoegg, and Darren W. Dahl. The authors are interest in
preferential consumer treatment programs, e.g. frequent flyer programs,
complementary meals, or scratch and save promotions, etc. While research has
shown these programs are effective at generating sales, the authors question
whether the process by which individuals are selected to receive the awards
affects how a consumer feels about receiving the award. Specifically, they
investigate whether receiving earned or unearned preferential treatment affects consumer satisfaction with the treatment.
The authors run a series of experimental studies that place
participants in either earned or unearned preferential treatment situations.
They find that receiving unearned preferential treatment in front of others
lowers consumer satisfaction. They reason that the unearned rewards promote
social discomfort for the reward recipients, who seemingly feel that the
equally deserving other individuals judge them. Interestingly, they find this
affect is attenuated when the other party is of higher social status (while
unearned, participants seemed to relish ‘sticking it’ to the perceived superior
party and this offsets the social discomfort).
There are limitations to the study discussed in the paper,
but this is largely the case with all experimental designs and I see no reason
to discredit the broad implication: if you employ an unearned preferential
treatment strategy, doing so in private is probably the best course of action.
I personally have seen presentations from mobile app reward service startups
which I hope take note of this finding.
My favorite term to love-hate (not featured in the article) would probably be entréepreneur. One thing is almost certain: those pitching in the entrepreneurship 'industry' (can you call it an industry?) have nothing on the U.S. military.