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The Virtual Workplace at the Annual HR Directors Business Summit 2016


The PERFORMANCE Management team was present at the HR Directors Business Summit in Birmingham, United Kingdom, between 2 – 4 February, 2016. Consequently, the insights gathered from experts present at the event had been gathered and exposed here, in a series of interviews and articles.

Daiga Ergle, SVP Human Resources within AirBaltic, speaking at the Annual HR Directors Business Summit of 2016, in Birmingham, United Kingdom, witnessed firsthand how the introduction of game elements into the working environment (or gamification at work) can improve the engagement level of employees.

After a somewhat disheartening moment, when the company experienced major restructuring and was at the edge of bankruptcy, the level of employees’ engagement dropped considerably. Three years in a row after the event, they kept registering low levels even though the company succeeded to recover (below 48%).

They started gathering loads of information from Google searches and began filtering the useful from the unnecessary, but at some point the managers just stopped and tried to analyze different things, such as values, income, their family’s state, experience and so forth.

As the majority of AirBaltic employees are young people, the company quickly discovered their interest in gaming and so they started to think that gamification at work might act as a trigger to reach higher levels of engagement.


Before they knew it, the Forecaster forum was implemented with the purpose of encouraging curiosity and was thought out as an idea-generating platform. All employees had the chance to express their opinions regarding the company’s projects, both those that were in place or those about to be. The CFO of AirBaltic was the one who came up with this idea and with the support of the board members, it was implemented. Managers were addressing business-related questions to their employees and the best answers were rewarded.

Suddenly, employees started talking about projects discussed on the Forecaster, instead of talking about their outside working hours activities. They now had the opportunity to take part in important decision-making processes.

Half a year later, managers wanted to discuss with their employees about the application and discover what can be improved, why some of them didn’t get involved, find best practices and so forth.

After a typology analysis, they reached the conclusion that they have to do with four types of players in their company: killers (rewards hunters), achievers (results-oriented), socialites and explorers. As a result, the Forecaster was redesigned to suit these archetypes.

One year later, the managers looked again at the figures and discovered an improvement regarding the levels of engagement (53%) – the first positive change in the last 4 years. It wasn’t the most impressive score, but for the company it meant a lot. And it goes to show that meeting your employees’ needs can go a long way, even making your company do a 180 in the right direction.

Daiga Ergler considers that these kind of initiatives should be continuously updated and maintained as a living mechanism, in which communication is tantamount.

With all said and done, one more important aspect that must not be forgotten is that any ideas that were not implemented should not just be brushed aside. Employees whose ideas were shot down should receive in-depth arguments, explaining why their particular proposal was not chosen. Remember, communication and innovation is something easily accessible and unwillingness to provide a thorough reasoning for a specific, negative decision can affect the desire of employees to keep contributing, essentially barring off your chances at achieving greater performance results.

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