October 27, 2017

Gamification of driver behaviour

Gamification is a term that is becoming more frequent when talking about organisational innovation and employee participation. Put simply, it's the use of game mechanics to engage and motivate people within their roles. A common way gamification can be leveraged is when looking at fleet driver behaviour. By using telematics technology, companies can now track and monitor driving, and give rewards and tips to encourage improvement.

The theory of gamification is "75 per cent psychology and 25 per cent technology" according to the author of 'Gamification by Design' Gabe Zicherman. And it's this psychological focus that then impacts behavioural change in drivers through three elements - 'motivation', 'ability' and 'trigger'

The individual must first have the ability to perform this task, be triggered to complete it and then feel and understand the motivation to continue - this can be through storytelling and subsequent reward and recognition.

Best Practices

The idea behind gamification is tapping into an individual or group motivation and applying this to benefit an organisation. When considering gamification, one of the most important elements is deciding what your objectives are and what success will look like. Typical measurements within gamification of driving behaviour can include speeding as well as events related to g-force such as hard braking, fast acceleration or taking corners too quickly. Some other more personal metrics can also be used such as driver distraction, that is, when the individual is using their mobile phone while driving.

From an engagement perspective, keeping employees interested in the process is vital. This can be done by developing a compelling story behind why this is being done, and how they will benefit. Stemming from this, ongoing interaction with other employees and managers is important to keep the conversations going. This can include not only in-app leader boards and competition, but also a real-life leader board in the office as well as weekly or monthly informal meetings to discuss results. This is also a great time to give out prizes for milestones such as most-improved driver, or the least number of dangerous driving events for that month. In addition, raw data can be sliced and diced in a variety of different ways to come up with interesting stats such as days and times with the most mileage, old vs young, men vs women and more.

For organisations that are new to gamification, and are unsure how it will fit within their company culture, testing and learning is a great idea. Offering the program in BETA stage can allow employees to test-drive the gamification, understand the milestones and give feedback on what is and isn't working. It will also allow the business as a whole to understand if the milestones are set correctly in-line with driver experience and skill level.

Lastly, and perhaps most important in terms of achieving employee buy-in, is visibility and transparency. It is pertinent to the success of gamification that people understand exactly what data is being collected, how it is being used and confidence is instilled that it won't be handed over to third parties or jeopardise jobs. An effective way to achieve this transparency is opening up communication early on and guiding employees through the process. If they understand the technology and tracking ability, and questions/concerns are alleviated during infancy stages, there is a higher chance of successful uptake.


Although the idea of driving safer should, in theory, be enough to change behaviours, humans are wired to respond to short-term gains over long-term reward. So, while gamification empowers drivers to not only take charge of their driving behaviour, it gives them real motivation to do so by using the behavioural change model and using psychological motivations. This not only benefits them individually from a safety perspective, with studies showing up to 84% decrease in driver accidents and over 50% increase in safe driving behaviour but can also have commercial implications. A number of organisations across the globe have reported a decrease in idling of 68% and reduction in fuel consumption of up to 11%, giving savings in the hundreds of thousands.

With millennials, who have grown up in a tech-savvy environment, now forming a large part of the workforce, offering gamification can be an effective way to get them engaged with their jobs and with an organisation as a whole. As an increasing number of companies start offering these types of programs and embedding them into the culture, it's important to stay ahead of the trend and continue innovating not only from an employee-benefit perspective but also from an operational expense point-of-view.


While tracking driving behaviour and encouraging healthy competition can seem fun, it's important to keep a balance between responsible monitoring and "big brother" undertones. Technology is a blessing and a curse in this respect, with many individuals nowadays worrying about how their data is being used and how much information is stored by an organisation. As mentioned, this concern can be alleviated by being completely transparent about the data stored and how it will be used. Furthermore, ensuring that healthy competition does not turn into aggressive egos and pose a human resources risk within an organisation is also something to consider. Keeping things light-hearted and fun is key when it comes to reducing this risk, as well as highlighting possible concerns early on to employees and reminding that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated. Engaging HR departments to help craft these messages and provide avenues of communication is highly recommended.

Scoring systems and gamification rewards themselves should also be looked at on a company-wide basis. This is by no means a one-size-fits-all strategy, so when using telematics and gamification the goals of an organisation and cultural practices should be taken into account. For example, if the distribution of skill between drivers is high, for those on the lower end of the scale, there can be little motivation to improve if they feel that their scores are too far away from that of the top driver. There is also the risk of causing anxiety among drivers who feel as if they are underperforming. So be sure to make milestones aspirational yet still achievable, and scale to the more difficult milestones accordingly. This can be done by implementing a BETA stage of the program to test real-life how employees driving skills to match up to milestones. They can then be adjusted accordingly for a full launch.


With technology constantly improving in the telematics space, and organisations looking for commercially viable solutions to engage their employees, gamification is a natural convergence. When extensive research and development is conducted on the organisational culture, and objectives clearly outlined, organisations are seeing real benefits in employee satisfaction as well as a reduction in operational expenditure.

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