Fourteen months ago, employees at Circulation Services Inc. (CSI) were leaving at an alarming pace. To stem the annual turnover rate of nearly 500 percent at the call center, CEO Andrew Orr decided to play games.
Specifically, Orr teamed up with Snowfly Incentives to introduce Internet games to motivate his staff — particularly the Gen X workers — and entice them to stay more than a couple of months. CSI employees are awarded tokens for good job performance, which they can then use to play games like slot machines and balloon popping. Players earn points that can be redeemed for gift certificates and debit cards, and limits can be placed on the number of tokens played to ensure employees are not abusing the privilege. "To earn tokens, employees still have to perform," says Orr. "If a call comes through and an employee is playing a game, the call automatically overrides the game."
Brooks Mitchell, the founder of Snowfly, says the approach is based on the idea that intermittent positive reinforcement is more effective than annual incentives. "Employees come in and immediately check to see if they've been awarded tokens so they can play," says Orr. "It gets them excited about coming to work."
On average, Snowfly sees 6,000 hits a month from the 250 CSI employees that use the system. Since it was implemented, turnover is now below 400 percent — no kidding, the industry average. The system, Orr adds, is also affordable. In addition to a flat $2–$5 per user per month fee, Snowfly charges a minimum $1,500 start-up fee. CSI also allocates $3,000 per month to be turned into points (employees receive a penny per point). "It's really hands-off for us," says Orr. "The program has paid for itself."