Gamification of Employee Volunteering


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams must translate an organization’s community investment strategy into action on the ground. One way many choose to approach this is through “Employee Volunteering” programs – where employees spend a day or two out of the office each year helping on a company sponsored community initiative.

This is encouraged by organizations such as Business in the Community in the UK who hold an annual “Give and Gain day” to catalyse these corporate initiatives. While the activities are by their very nature small scale (“30 employees from L’Oreal helping out with Gardening at St Pauls and All Hallows Primary school in London” for example) this is a worldwide thing with over 27,000 employees participating.

The question for us is can we improve adoption and engagement through the use of gamification techniques to turn 27,000 into 270,000 next year? I believe we can.

In much the same way as this blog imagined systems for gamification of the big society, I can imagine a system for gamifying employee volunteering as follows:

1. Focus on manager behavior.

The key problem to wider adoption, as I understand it, is not finding more willing employee volunteers (there are plenty of those) but in ensuring managers provide the time for them to do it.

So, while senior management may be bought in to the benefits of volunteering, it is up to middle management to make it work in practice. Something easier said than done.

How do you take a day out of the office when the fires are burning, your workload is already through the roof and you are the critical path for project success? It is up to managers to find ways out of this conundrum by shifting priorities so their staff can make the volunteering appointment.

2. Provide visibility for managers against peers

Nothing works like a bit of peer pressure, so, why not apply a leaderboard mechanic fairly simply on behalf of managers.  Each manager is ranking on a quarterly or annual leaderboard according to the number of their reports  they’ve managed to free up enough that they went volunteering.  Sophisticated leaderboards might look at saturation (% of employees engaged) or coverage (number of employees engaged) rather than volume (number of employee days given to the community). I suspect it would be up to each company to decide what best fits their own culture.

Going further we could see companies who collect data on value addratings and reviews from community beneficiaries themselves. This would provide a really good leaderboard that matched corporate volunteering objectives to actual results in the community – “Top Rated! – Our department received the most positive comments from the communities we support in line with our corporate objective of better community relations”. I could see that, or something like, that up on the kitchen noticeboard before too long.

3. Reward best performers publically

While too many “badges” – can cause “badge fatigue” – one or two would also help highlight the behaviors we most desire. I would have thought an individual badge for the top manager in the leaderboard given on a periodic basis, with inclusion in a company-wide newsletter would be good. Coupled with a departmental badge for the most engaged team would provide another way to win.  A leaderboard showing departmental teams against each other would help teams track their progress in this competition.


All sounds good? Well the next step is to put this into practice with a real system. All we need is some willing corporate volunteers to fund a pilot. Anyone?

Photo Credit: AlexPears via Flickr – Yahoo volunteers April 2011.



Toby Beresford

Toby is co-founder of Pailz and a serial web applications entrepreneur. Pailz is team task management social and gamified. In the past he developed social games on Facebook for big brands, community software for small groups and enterprise web apps for massive corporations. Follow him on twitter @tobyberesford and Subscribe to this blog at Gamification Of Work blog feed

Website - More Posts

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress