What sustainability efforts could learn from Angry Birds

What sustainability efforts could learn from Angry Birds

What do Angry Birds and sustainability have in common?      

Playing  Angry Birds hooks people, focusing them on developing special skills to achieve ever more difficult goals. That type of game-playing can be a central tool to help companies get their employees involved in delivering on firm-wide sustainability goals from zero waste to greening the supply chain.

“Innovative companies are using gamification to re-image work and drive unprecedented engagement across the entire organization,” according to JP Rangaswami, keynote speaker for upcoming Gamification Summit being held in San Francisco June 19-21.  This is increasingly true for one of business’ top issues – sustainability.

93% of business leaders identified sustainability as important to their company’s future success, according to a recent survey. They are just looking for ways to make it work. Gamification is one answer.

Playing electronic games is addictive. It hooks people at the level of their basic social drives for achievement, appreciation, reciprocity, and friendly competition. It grabs attention on social media and speeds up companies’ sustainability processes. In business, people compete individually and in teams for points, prizes, and recognition. They become engaged and motivated.

For example, companies using CloudApps’ gamification tools to engage employees in corporate sustainability efforts can save up to 10% on their annual costs of energy, water, waste and business travel, improving their ROI in less than six months.

Seven gamification strategies to increase employee engagement in sustainability

CloudApps has shared the roadmap it uses with corporate clients:

1. Align employees’ personal sustainability goals with corporate sustainability vision and goals

2. Visibly allocate and reward in connection with sustainability budgets and targets

3. Bring a fun, innovative and competitive approach through the use of game mechanics that includes challenges, badges, levels, rewards and leader boards

4. Deliver practical sustainability challenges relevant to an employee’s experience

5. Bring a social networking style of collaboration and communication that drives successful employee-led sustainability initiatives

6. Harvest employees sustainability and cost reduction ideas

7. Create a workplace ethic that attracts and retains the very best employees

Photo of Angry Birds coaching by Nick Chill Photography via a Flickr Creative Commons license./

Here’s how very different types of companies apply a mix of these strategies to improve their bottom line and the environment.

Practically Green, a digital community, helps organizations become greener by using technology and social networking to educate, motivate and reward employees for making green changes to their work and home life. It gives points for more than 400 different green behaviors, from commuting by bike to buying local produce to switching to e-bills.

"Gamification encourages more lasting behavior change than traditional communications and training efforts because it is simple, personal and relevant, trackable, and shareable," said Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of Practically Green.

SAP, the German software giant, has a number of green games. One is a carpooling game called TwoGo, aimed at making carpooling easy and socially cool. Bike at Work lets employees earn points, get feedback, give useful tips to their friends, see calories burned and other fun, motivational stuff.

Deloitte, the consulting firm, has developed a Business Simulation Game that enables players to experiment with sustainable initiatives for their client companies in a safe game setting.  The game allows players make mistakes and try again without losing face. This direct experience accelerates the learning about, and adoption of, sustainability strategies.

Through events like the upcoming Gamification Summit or Coursera’s free online Gamification course offered by Wharton, we’re betting that more companies follow the lead of these pioneers.