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Improving driving behaviour: the gamification of fleet motoring

Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of high driving behaviour standards to business organisations – but how can these standards be best achieved?

Changing an employee’s driving behaviour, after all, is no easy task.  Success in doing so, delivering a notable improvement in performance standards, can nevertheless help to unlock the door to more effective cost and road risk management.

Among the much-vaunted techniques advanced for bringing about behavioural change is the concept of gamification. But what is actually meant by the term? What is the science behind this popular buzzword? And what does it mean in practice for fleet operators?

Gamification: the lowdown

Gamification is a broad term, but put simply it concerns the use of game mechanics to engage and motivate people.

The principles behind the concept are nothing new of course but, after rising to prominence a few years ago in the IT industry, it seems its use as a ‘packaged’ motivational tool has now gained a firm toehold in the wider world of business.

Gartner’s ‘Gamification 2020’ report predicts that gamification in business is set to rocket. In the corporate environment, where a lack of employee engagement can be an obstacle to business development, advocates of gamification believe it can be used to achieve defined company objectives.

Although most would view work-related activities as being far removed from the traditionally concept of a game, it is nevertheless believed that the deployment of game elements can encourage a change of behaviour. By tapping into key stimuli such as sense of competition, reward and recognition, modifications can be made to our day-to-day decisions. In the case of fleet drivers, this might mean improving driving behaviour by making a decision to take a corner at a slower speed or accelerating or braking less severely.

So the fundamentals of the theory appear straightforward – but how does it actually work?

The science bit: the psychology behind the theory

Psychology sits at the heart of gamification – a tool that leverages key human motivators to achieve behavioural change.

In fact, according to author of ‘Gamification by Design’ to Gabe Zichermann, gamification is “75 per cent psychology and 25 per cent technology”.

Academic research by Professor B.J. Fogg of Stanford University has led to the development of a behaviour change model, which claims that three elements – ‘motivation’, ‘ability’ and ‘trigger’ – must all converge at the same time for ‘a behaviour’ to occur.

The individual must first have the ‘ability’ to carry out a task and be given a ‘trigger’ to complete that action. The ‘motivation’ then comes from giving an individual the chance to win, be rewarded or gain recognition.

The telematics solution for fleet

A fleet manager informed by both human psychology and fleet data can achieve great things.

Telematics technology can empower drivers, providing them with the tools that ‘trigger’ and offer the ‘ability’ to help improve their driving behaviour and performance behind the wheel.

All the while, incentivising employees – through a rewards programme, for example, or through the compilation and publication of league tables that compare the performance of drivers against their peers – can spark competition and establish the ‘motivation’ to improve.

Gartner research vice president Brian Burke said in an interview with PC Mag: “Gamified elements like leaderboards inspire different behaviours. Oftentimes competitive ones …but gamification solutions are also more collaborative.”

Gamification in action

Widespread successes of using gamification, underpinned by telematics and the driving performance data it imparts, have been reported over recent years.

At ventilation specialists EnviroVent, monthly driver performance reports generated using WEBFLEET and OptiDrive 360 data, elicited a competitive response from its employees that resulted in a 10 per cent drop in fuel consumption and annual savings of £36,000.

More recently, road transport specialist Pentalver and plant hire company Garic have both incentivised improvements and benefitted to the tune of £50,000 by giving drivers a quarterly bonus if they hit agreed performance targets.

At Zenith Hygiene Group meanwhile, driver league tables led to annual fuel cost savings of more than £220,000.

For gas distribution giant SGN, the introduction of gamification and “an element of healthy competition” by comparing performance standards across its depots has helped cut incidents of idling by 68 per cent, mileage by 16 per cent and mpg by 11 per cent.

So gamification within fleet operations can really work.

Are you using gamification in your organization? Do you believe it can offer your business a powerful driver for fleet efficiency? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us below.

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