Hrtechcube Interview with Employee Engagement Expert, Eloops – Heather Harris

Heather Harris, Employee Engagement Expert at Eloops discusses the impact of gamification on employee experience, engagement, and productivity, altogether.

1. Tell us about your role at Eloops.
My role is to ensure that all of our content is based in robust thinking and the latest research, and that all the advice we provide our clients with helps drive their success through their people. I am part of our Customer Success team, and while some of our clients’ people challenges are the same, others are specific to certain industries, company structures and operational factors.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I have been active in this market since the late 90’s, in the context of Executive & Work Performance Coaching. I find what it takes for us to be our best selves at work, and particularly how our peers and our managers impact our experience and the likelihood of us being able to fulfil our potential, intriguing.

I met one of our founders through a mutual friend and we quickly realized we were in many ways each other’s dream. My knowledge and years of relevant experience combined with Eloops’ tools and technology has added-up to an amazing collaboration the past 2 years, allowing us to be on the frontline of shaping employee experience at scale.

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
It’s hard to engage employees! Technology in the form of an Employee Engagement Platform such as Eloops is relieving both a time and a skills deficit. While the interviewing process establishes alignment with company vision, values, and cultural fit at that point, maintaining engagement needs to happen on a continuous basis. HR leaders are faced with more challenges as the whole notion of the workplace evolves, yet they only have the same amount of time. In addition, more and different challenges require more and different skills. HR leaders are finding they can multiply employee touchpoints and amplify their impact exponentially with the right platform and apps.

4. How has digitization empowered the process of employee engagement?

Digitization facilitates engagement action at scale on an ongoing basis. Everyone wants optimal employee engagement but it appears to be a ‘big ask’.

It’s clear there is an employee engagement crisis as various surveys over the years reveal that less than a third of a typical workforce is actively engaged. With the size of the ‘not engaged’ cohort having stayed the same (even through the COVID pandemic) this suggests that the problem has yet to be solved.

Digitization enables companies to reinforce connection to and alignment with corporate vision and values. Equally importantly, managers can improve their connection with their employees, and work colleagues can connect with each other in more meaningful ways. The opportunity to boost engagement has really never been more powerful.

5. What is the role of personalization in upgrading the experiences of employees at scale?
Personalization is crucial to the employee experience. Approaching employees as individuals, as team members and as a collective workforce is a global challenge. For best engagement outcomes you need to do all three. It’s just as important to build a sense of belonging within someone’s work community, as it is to recognize their part in contributing to the achievements of their team and to celebrate them as individuals. Personalization ensures the right messages can be targeted to the right people at the right time. This approach to customization ensures employees receive the content that is most relevant and matters most to them as individuals, whatever their role.

6. In what way can automated interactions simplify the communication and engagement procedures?
Automated interactions simplify and streamline communications and can be leveraged throughout the employee journey. From the initial interview to the exit interview and everything in-between, customization is key. Benefit related content, information about company events, and marking the small things that matter in a big way like birthdays and company anniversaries are just a few examples of ways HR leaders can boost engagement through automation. With smart scheduling, automated messages can arrive based on the employee’s time zone, meaning an HR manager can be boosting engagement on a global basis even while they themselves are sleeping.

7. How can measurement insights influence better decision making capabilities?
Companies are doing a lot to create touchpoints with their employees. But if they don’t have adequate measurement, insights are missed. I would say astute use of Pulse Surveys is a must to stay informed at all times, and in an ideal world, every engagement interaction would be captured, tracked and monitored, so that measurement is truly comprehensive. Insights derived from measurement data can be applied to:

• Identify potential problems before they occur
• Indicate opportunities to be leveraged
• Inspire more effective engagement actions

Measurement insights can show you your most resonant company values, help you take the smartest actions and inspire all of your strategic and pragmatic engagement initiatives.

8. We recently covered the news of Eloops announcing its employee engagement platform that gamifies and improves employee experience. Can you lead us onto that?
It may seem contradictory, but play in the context of work has never been more important. Of course the objective of work is to achieve defined company goals, but an employee’s experience at work (wherever their workplace may be these days) must meet their ‘human’ needs. Everything about Eloops, whether product or content, starts from the employee experience point of view, and what gamification does fundamentally is harness engagement & fun.

While ‘Fun’ is not specifically stated within Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs perhaps it should be… what else can you think of that can impact & deliver in all 3 of the uppermost layers of this well-known pyramid?

Fostering a fun work environment can make your employees less stressed, more productive, more creative, and more engaged. Fun in the workplace is good for the bottom line and 81% of those working at Fortune 100s Best Companies To Work For say they work in a fun environment. Eloops exists to make every company a great place to work.

9. Can you tell us about your trending stack of games and their features?
Rewards are a powerful factor in any employee experience. Eloops clients get to create their own virtual currency & virtual reward store. Employees earn currency by participating in the activities in their app then select the rewards they want from their company’s store. We are finding that cost-less rewards are very popular. Experiences such as the use of the CEO’s parking spot and putting a pie in the face of your manager are more valued by some employees than acquiring T-shirts.

Recognition also has a big impact and peer-to-peer recognition is 35% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. Eloops has a peer-to-peer (P2P) feature. This encourages the regular recognition of colleagues by sending them P2P points and the points tie-in with company values, so our clients can build appreciation into their work culture.

Through use of a timer and leaderboard, we have developed fun trivia quizzes to generate healthy competition. We have also developed a quiz format to gamify the delivering of insightful professional development on subjects such as Employee Happiness and the dynamics of Teamwork. These are a tool to simultaneously gauge employees’ knowledge and add to it.

We are constantly creating new content and the scope of our games often extends beyond work. For example our clients have had fun using our Winter Wellness Challenge to support optimal health across their workforce, and we have just released our Springtime content that is focused on the theme of ‘Growth’.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-centric World?
Our Eloops highly intuitive dashboard lets the person overseeing the app create their employee engagement magic. Within it there are clear paths, smart suggestions, and many built-in checks to ensure communication intentions are achieved. But AI without data isn’t worth much and this is why we’ve put a focus on collecting data from endless employee interactions and touchpoints. It’s exciting to be developing the AI we need as it will be able to provide uniquely powerful insights and enable our customers to offer an even better employee experience.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
We are excited about the opportunity that integrating with other platforms brings and we recently announced our partnership with Microsoft Teams. This collaboration allows us the opportunity to bring an unprecedented element of fun to the world of work for their 115 million daily active users. We are equally enthusiastic to integrate Eloops with additional employee communication platforms to ensure as many employees as possible (and the companies they work for) can achieve the powerful engagement benefits from our brand of gamification.

Currently, 80 percent of what we create is a direct result of client collaboration. Recently, we powered-up a client’s existing Referral Program with gamification, involving virtual currency. Recommendation is a key engagement indicator and this has created a new dimension of instant gratification to further incentivize participation in their program.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I’m happy to say we storm and we perform! We are a small team of diverse, talented individuals who each bring unique expertise to the table. We collaborate on everything and don’t believe in hierarchy. Though each of us has our own missions based on our expertise, we emphatically believe that ideas can come from anywhere and as Ken Blanchard says “None of us is as smart as all of us”. We inspire and learn from each other daily as we strive to improve work environments worldwide.

13. What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading two books with similar themes. I’m part-way through a modern classic (for the second time) The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The second book is The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis that tells the story of two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky, and is subtitled ‘a friendship that changed our minds’.

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
With ‘fun at work’ at our heart, of course we do! One of our clients (Axis Health Systems in Colorado) has more than fully embraced the Eloops approach to employee engagement and recently posted a definition of the word ‘smize’ in their Feed. We were inspired and immediately responded with this picture of our team ‘smizing’.

We have a lot of fun in our own app ‘Loopers’. There has been a true or false quiz about every one of us so we could get to know each other in a unique and fun way, and we take part in the quizzes and challenges we create for our clients.
Each one of us also has an avatar persona in Loopers and beyond… you can spot us on our website, in marketing materials and social and professional media posts.

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
What you’ll see are how I keep in touch with my Eloops team (Teams, Monday, Loopers), how I keep in touch with my kids who live in a different country, (WhatsApp, Zoom) and how I keep in touch with myself (Fitbit, Chopra Meditation).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Harris, Employee Engagement Expert at Eloops Heather Harris is the Employee Engagement Expert at Eloops. During her early career in advertising and business consultancy, Heather got up close and personal with numerous global brand-owning and service companies as well as a vast range of organizations of all kinds. She developed a keen awareness of what it takes to create a happy, healthy and productive workplace, and how the best can be brought forth from what is every organization’s greatest asset: its people; its human resource.

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