Gamification Expert Series: Carmen Chan, Head of Employee Engagement & Internal Communications (JTH Group)
We're pleased to introduce the first of our Gamification Expert Series!
In this series, we’ll feature industry experts as they share their knowledge, tips and tricks, and advice on how to gamify programs in their organizations. Who better to kick off our Gamification Expert Series than one of Gametize’s top power users, Carmen – we love seeing the content she’s created on our platform!
Carmen Chan is the Head of Employee Engagement & Internal Communications of JTH Group. Carmen leads employee engagement and employer branding projects of the group.
Regional initiatives include Gamification x VR360, Innovation Awards, video games, animated job advertisements and other projects to enhance candidate and employee experience. Her mission includes transforming HR with innovation and digitalization, connecting people with technology and adding fun elements to HR and in the workplace.
Carmen met Keith a few years ago at a conference in Hong Kong. After seeing Gametize’s demo, Carmen was curious about how gamification could be applied in HR to connect all colleagues from the region and add more fun to the workplace. From then, Carmen started to talk to Keith and explored how best the solution could be used to improve the employee experience.
G: Hi, Carmen! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us. First things first, it’s amazing that you’ve been at JTH Group for over 20 years. How did you get to where you are today?
C: Actually, this is my first job. At JTH Group, I was a marketer for a decade before transitioning to HR internally. Before my MBA in Melbourne, I was trained in Science…I guess this makes me a real explorer in life.
G: That’s quite the background – from science, to marketing, then HR! What keeps you engaged over your 20 years in JTH Group?
C: When I was in the product team, there were new products, solutions, and technology for me to pick up every year. My scope covered mobile, voice, server, database, business intelligence, audio and video conference, VoIP, networking, security, ERP and other enterprise applications solutions. My responsibilities expanded over time, to cover product, marketing, product sales, maintenance sales and procurement.
I also had a lot of opportunities to participate in different projects and working committee within our company. In HR, I was able to be part of many HR transformation and digitalization projects which were challenging but fun. All these new challenges and learning opportunities keep me energized and wanting to come to work every day.
G: Wow, sounds like every day at JTH Group is an opportunity to learn new things. How about gamification – how did you learn about gamification and what does it mean to you?
C: To me, gamification is about adding game elements to something that used to be boring. The strong desire to “connect”, “motivate” and “have fun” led me to consider gamification – it should be fun with technology and innovative elements, but technology shouldn’t replace the human touch. Instead, it should empower connection and add more fun to the workplace.
So, I got the free trial license, asked Keith many questions, started to think about how to structure the content, and what innovative elements could be included to make the platform more appealing and compelling.
How Carmen has transformed the employee experience in JTH Group
G: You must face a lot of challenges in your role, with all the projects you handle. Could you share one challenge you faced in your job role?
C: A few years back, we were faced with a challenge on how we could connect colleagues from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and China. We used to have internal newsletters, but that wasn’t timely enough. We had a lot of wellness activities, and getting colleagues to register via email caused too much administrative work.
Last but not least, we’re an IT company, and having legacy practices and technology just didn’t give a good projection on our “innovative” image or make a good employee experience. That’s why we started to build our engagement app on Gametize, leading to the creation of @OnePlace.
G: Love the name – it really sums up what the app is about! Tell us more about @OnePlace. What inspired you to create @OnePlace?
C: The urgent desire to be innovative and to connect everyone from different countries motivated us to create @OnePlace. We wanted something we could launch very quickly and with an inexpensive starting cost. We also wanted it to be easy to use and fun for our colleagues. We promoted @OnePlace as our Gamification x VR360 platform, with the objective to connect everyone from across the region, share ideas, and have fun.
Carmen and her team built @OnePlace, JTH's employee engagement app
G: Could you give us a tour of what players do in @OnePlace?
Sure! @OnePlace has a lot different activities for players to participate in, including:
Apart from having VR360 videos and animated videos on the app, other gimmicks include:
From participating in the challenges, colleagues will gain points to redeem gifts from the app. To motivate engagement, bonus points are awarded for some activities to gain traction.
G: Wow, it’s really clear that a lot of work was put behind making @OnePlace a success. How did you and your team come up with all of the content for @OnePlace?
C: We listened to our bright young minds to learn what people their age prefer – for example, we found out they like to see moving elements, such as more video and less text. Having things like video games also distinguish us from other companies in the market. That’s why we have included animated videos, video games and VR360 videos.
That being said, we were prepared to “fail fast, learn fast, correct fast” in making this innovation. The app is open for all employees and has received an excellent penetration rate of 85% even though it is not compulsory. It was definitely not easy to achieve such penetration. It took us 1-1.5 years to continuously fine-tune, add new ideas and improve to make it the way it is.
Looking to the future
G: Thank you for sharing about @OnePlace and it’s great to know what a success it’s been. We can’t wait to see what else you have planned in 2020. Can you share a sneak peek of what’s in store for you?
C: We have extended our idea to incorporate learning and created gLearning (short for game learning), incorporating various learning materials. We promote “Learning is an attitude” and encourage colleagues to learn anytime, anywhere via any device.
G: That sounds exciting – we certainly hope to hear more about gLearning in the future. What about the future of employee engagement – what do you believe or hope to see in the employee engagement experience?
C: Apart from all the fun in interaction, we need other surprises that can help elevate the employee experience. I can see gamification being included into applications like Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), email solutions, and other social media platforms. Most importantly, a crossover of technology and human touch continue to be essential.
G: Definitely – the human touch and technology have to go hand in hand. Speaking of, do you have any suggestions on how Gametize can improve your experience?
C: It would be good to have more flexibility for users to post videos, follow other colleagues, easily search for something from the posts, e.g., via hashtags, a direct messaging function and a more flexible look and feel of the app.
Editor’s note: Good news – because of feedback from power users like Carmen, we’ve listened and implemented direct messaging and Video Challenge.
G: We’ll definitely take that back to the team. Could you provide some wise words of wisdom for anyone wanting to get started in gamification?
Gamification is not only about technology; it’s about changing people’s mindset. It’s about connection, employee experience and adding fun to the workplace. Engaging content is important but how to motivate usage is definitely challenging and requires endless effort.
“Gamification is not only about technology; it’s about changing people’s mindset.
G: We couldn’t agree more on how important “the people factor” is to making gamification work! Last question, because we just have to know: what games do you play?
C: I don’t play games lately, believe it or not! I used to like Candy Crush, maybe because many people around me were playing it years ago (note from editor: Socializer alert). I also played other video games I got the game developers to design for our company. These games would allow my brain to rest and do something not related to work.
However, I’ve stopped playing them already as it took too much time. My preferred game these days is to have a clear mind to think and plan what I should do while jogging early mornings on the weekends.
G: Thank you so much Carmen for your thoughtful answers! The Gametize team is definitely inspired by your innovative approach and creative thinking. For our readers, it’ll interest you to know that Carmen also helmed the JOS Innovation Awards 2019, a competition to showcase and nurture the creativity and innovation of Hong Kong’s students. You can learn more about it here!
About JTH Group
JTH Group is a member of the Fortune Global 500 Jardine Matheson Group. JTH Group provides support to all its technology divisions – JOS, Innovix Distribution and Adura Cyber Security Consulting.
Photo credits: These great shots are taken by Nick Trieu, who is based in Hong Kong. He accidentally discovered the love of photography when golf became too expensive. Primarily a Street Photographer, but would dabble in anything that friends and family allows him to experiment. You can find him on Instagram at @Accidentalphotographer.73 and @Accidentalphotographer.73.bw