5 Ways To Use ARGs To Increase Employee Engagement And Performance
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How To Use ARGs To Increase Employee Engagement And Performance

Andy Petroski, Emerging Technologies Leader and Author, is allowing our readers to read portions of his work. This article comes from his book Alternate Reality Games: Gamification For Performance.


Imagine new employees at your organization working as a team to find the missing company CEO, versus sitting all day listening to presentations about the company culture, the organizational structure, and code of conduct expectations. Instead, the search for the CEO requires investigating the company culture, organizational structure, and code of conduct versus hearing about it. How much more engaged do you think the new hires will be? Do you think a highly immersive orientation experience might affirm their decision to work for your organization?

Replacing a single employee can cost about 1-1/2 times the annual salary of the employee being replaced. [1] These costs can include time and money associated with lost productivity, advertising, human resources, and onboarding. Yet, even in tough economic times, organizations regularly see some of the best talent and potential walk out the door, sometimes shortly after joining the organization. Consider some of these statistics:

  • 70% of US workers are not engaged at work. [2]
  • Only 40% of the workforce knows about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. [3]
  • 89% of employers think their people leave for more money, while only 12% of employees do leave for more money. [4]
  • Highly engaged employees were 87% less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts. [5]
  • 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy will have an impact on business success, but barely 25% of them have a strategy. [6]
  • Companies with actively engaged employees have 2.5 times the revenue versus competitors that have low engagement levels. [7]

Engagement is a multifaceted element of employer-employee relations, and it’s not easily addressed. [8] 70% of Forbes global 2000 companies will use gamification to boost engagement, retention, and revenues. ARGs are a form of gamification; one that intersects the boundaries between playing a game and performing daily activities like attending employee orientation, collaborating with a team, or selling products.

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) can be a tool in the employee engagement strategy. Let’s have a look at some potential scenarios for using ARGs to increase employee engagement, increase collaboration, optimize training time, develop skills, and fuel innovation.

Goal 1: Increase New Employee Engagement

ARG Scenario

New employees at a health care insurance company must find the “Keith the Claim” character and follow him throughout the building to help Keith fulfill his destiny to become a completed claim. Along the way, new employees research information, ask questions of current employees, and create a story that details the life and times of “Keith the Claim”.

ARG Scenario Outcomes

  • Energize employee orientation.
  • Engage new employees.
  • Increase knowledge of the company’s business.
  • Increase ability to navigate the facility.
  • Include physical activity during orientation.
  • Generate collaboration between new and existing employees.
  • Evaluate new employees’ problem solving and leadership skills for targeting future leaders.

Goal 2: Increase Teamwork And Collaboration

ARG Scenario

Employees create a Knowledge Management taxonomy that is the basis for a new language that will allow humans and robots to work together.

ARG Scenario Outcomes

  • Increase collaboration around a mission-critical, but challenging task.
  • Increase buy-in and ownership of a new initiative.
  • Leverage the work of a crowd playing a game for efficient productivity.

Goal 3: Optimize Training Time

ARG Scenario

A month prior to safety training, staff members are asked to identify the common thread among several accidents at a production facility. Are they sabotage, faulty equipment, inaccurate safety procedures, inattentive workers, or something even more dangerous?

Employees keep a log and a list of “who dun-its” as they investigate safety incidents and bring the materials for use during the safety training.

ARG Scenario Outcomes

  • Increase context and value of training.
  • Increase engagement in training related to safety outcomes.
  • Establish critical thinking around safety evaluation and activities.
  • Create conversations among employees before training.
  • Allow employee performance in the game to inform the focus of training activities.

Goal 4: Increase Skills

ARG Scenario

Salespeople try to uncover the identity of the perfect customer by researching data and sharing stories with each other about what qualities make a good prospect.

ARG Scenario Outcomes

  • Increase communication and collaboration among the Sales team.
  • Share information about strategies and techniques for the most successful client relationships.
  • Increase the efficiency of sales efforts by identifying ways for salespeople to prioritize prospects.

Goal 5: Fuel Innovation

ARG Scenario

Prior to a national managers meeting, it’s announced that the company is moving the corporate offices to Mars as part of a worldwide re-colonization effort. The managers must submit ideas for how the company will establish itself and consider changes in facilities, organizational structure, operations, products; everything the company does.

ARG Scenario Outcomes

  • Engage managers in innovative thinking before the national meeting.
  • Generate innovative ideas that can be applied to improving the current operations.
  • Identify challenges in the company that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration among managers with similar ideas.

These scenarios present the potential for ARGs as a solution not only for the employee engagement challenge, but a variety of other business issues as well. To evaluate a variety of actual ARGs and consider how your organization might benefit from a similar type of ARG, stay tuned for our next article.



  1. Employee Retention - The Real Cost of Losing an Employee
  2. State of the American Workplace
  3. 20 Shocking HR Statistics
  4. The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late
  5. The Importance of Engagement and the Cost of Disengagement
  6. Building a culture of engagement: The importance of senior leadership
  7. 10 Shocking Statistics About Disengaged Employees
  8. Gartner Predicts Over 70 Percent of Global 2000 Organisations Will Have at Least One Gamified Application by 2014