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Gamify collaboration in Microsoft Teams with the Incentives Power App

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The transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with challenges. Microsoft Teams is an excellent collaboration tool for remote employees, but the fact is that extended lockdowns are making many remote workers feel overwhelmed. While a weekly “virtual happy hour” in Microsoft Teams never hurts, the key to keeping your remote employees engaged is human interaction. But what if some employees don’t ever want to turn on their camera during video conference? You can’t make that one employee who never acknowledges a humorous group chat message in Teams suddenly reply with an animated GIF.

Or can you?

What if you could turn employee usage of Microsoft Teams into a fun game that rewards your employees for playing? Empowering your employees to compete and engage with their peers to earn rewards incentivizes them to be more engaged and productive. And a new Power App add-on for Microsoft Teams is available to Microsoft 365 Business subscribers called “Incentives” can encourage the behaviors that enhance your remote employees’ social engagement through gamification.

What is gamification?

The concept of “gamification” applies the elements of gameplay to non-game contexts. You can gamify a process to improve user engagement and productivity or encourage the use of specific activities and processes among colleagues. Engaging in a gamified process at a business results in rewards like recognition badges or points that can be traded for items or company benefits. Gamification helps employees think of a process as a game where achieving your company’s most important metrics earns them points. When implemented well, gamification can be a fun way to motivate teams.

How to gamify remote worker engagement in Microsoft Teams

You can gamify your remote employees’ usage of Microsoft Teams using the new Incentives Power App. Think of Power Apps as pre-built “templates” similar to other add-ons that you can use to add functionality to your Microsoft 365 apps without requiring knowledge of software programming. The Incentives Power App is free and can be applied to your Microsoft Teams deployment to assign incentives to specific activities that encourage employee participation of those desired activities.

For security reasons, only admins can install Power App templates on Microsoft 365 apps. Once the Incentives Power App is installed, the Microsoft 365 Admin can customize the activities and rewards for Microsoft Teams usage. The Incentives Power App has multiple options for assigning the activities, the points awarded, and the completion awards for each activity. You can create activities in Microsoft Teams that encourage remote worker productivity and engagement such as “Join the weekly townhall,” “Use 25 stickers in Teams chat,” and so on. You can assign whatever points you want to these activities. Points are automatically awarded and tracked in the Incentives Power App, reducing the overhead required to manage your rewards program.

The template allows you to reward users who obtain a specific number of points in the Incentives Power App with a code that acts as a digital voucher for prizes. For example, you can buy a Starbucks gift card then assign the gift card’s redemption code as the reward for achieving 100 points worth of Incentives Power App activities in Microsoft Teams. How you assign the points and their rewards is customizable—the only constraint is your imagination and budget. Amaxra recommends you offer a variety of rewards to spark your employees’ competitive nature. There will always be those ultra-competitive employees who won’t be satisfied until they achieve enough points to get the biggest prize available.

If there is one downside, it’s that (as of the time of writing this blog) the Microsoft 365 Admin at your organization must manually assign the unique voucher codes for each reward. So, there is no programmatic way to pull a gift card code from a vendor’s website and assign it to an Incentive Power App reward. On the upside, you are not limited to vendors for digital reward codes. You can assign a unique voucher code to a reward such as “a 30-minute mentoring session with a company executive” or “free day of PTO” that can’t bought at a store.

Once the Incentives Power App is set up by your Microsoft 365 Admin, all employees will see an Incentives option in the Microsoft Teams left-nav menu. This tab in Teams provides a personalized dashboard view for all of the various employee usage incentives and rewards:

From here, each employee can view their current number of accumulated points, the active incentives they can use to gain more points, how they compare to their peers on the leaderboard, and the option to request and claim rewards:

Setting up the Incentives Power App

While setting up the Incentives Power App is not difficult, it is an involved process. As previously mentioned, only a Microsoft 365 Admin at an organization has the permissions to install the Incentives Power App template. Beyond that, the Admin is also required to create a SharePoint List , enable the Power Apps data source, and configure those components to be shared securely to only the employees with access to Microsoft Teams in your organization.

Amaxra wants gamifying your employees’ usage of Microsoft Teams to be fun and easy. If you are a current Microsoft 365 Business customer with Amaxra, then contact us for help setting up the Incentives Power App for your organization. If you are not yet an Amaxra customer but are interested in how the Incentives Power App could help your employees to stay engaged, then connect with us for a free consultation.

Contact me at technology@amaxra.com or call 425 708 8841 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

about the author

Mike Arntzen

Mike is an experienced Technology expert who is skilled in Enterprise Software and Security and Cloud Implementation. He has a strong engineering background graduated from the Royal Australian Air Force School of Radio, with postgraduate studies in Fibre Optics from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Known at Amaxra as "Mr FixIt" there isn't much Mike can't resolve. He has recently implemented Amaxra's switch to Skype for Business within the Amaxra office.

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