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Profit Power: Incentives to gamify your business

August 28, 2019 -  By
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Photo: Jeffrey Scott

Photo: Jeffrey Scott

I work with two top-performing landscape companies, both in the $10-15 million range. Both enjoy earning high profits, and I have helped both achieve this by gamifying their business.

They have turned work into a game and shown their employees how to earn incentives and bonuses by working efficiently and effectively.

Company No. 1 uses open book management and companywide profit sharing at year end. Company No. 2 uses a series of incentives at different levels of the business. The foremen play one game, the middle managers play a different game, the company executives play a third game — but all three games line up toward the same goal.

Both paths can bolster and increase engaged employees and maximize performance.

Here are the common denominators regardless of which way you gamify your business:

  • The fruits of high profits are shared with the team;
  • Upper leadership pulls together and wins by the same criteria;
  • The company is constantly stretching, trying to achieve higher levels of productivity, sales and profitability;
  • Innovation is a constant; the company is always trying out new tools and methods;
  • The “game” is always evolving. It’s never perfect, and they never rest on their laurels.

No matter which direction you take, you must make sure your incentive program follows these three rules (see figure.)

1. Tell the truth – You can’t hide profit or share false information, or, for that matter, be late with your numbers or share inaccurate data.

2. Teach the rules of how to win the game – The rules must be kept simple and must be explained (over and over) so the players thoroughly understand what defines a win versus what defines a loss.

3. Show your employees “What’s in it for them” – If you want employees to care about open book management or incentives, it must be clear how they gain financially, and it must be meaningful and believable.

If you fail at any of these three rules, you will end up with apathy, frustration and/or disbelief. Any of these unfortunate consequences will hijack your efforts to turn business into a successful game.

Everyone loves to play and win games, so make winning fun!

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