It’s common for DC employees to compete to see who can pick the fastest. Eby-Brown took that idea of friendly competition a step further and organized voice picking races at their annual family picnic. The idea of turning work into fun and games – so-called “gamification” – is one of the leading trends in software design, too. In the future, picking may indeed be more like a game or race.

Many companies hold open houses where employees bring their families on site to see where they work and what they do, while adding family-friendly activities, food and fun. Eby-Brown has long held family picnics that include truck and forklift “rodeos.” This year several of their DCs added voice picking races, where employees competed to demonstrate their skills using Lucas mobile applications featuring Jennifer voice.

Eby-Brown Associate - GamificationAaron Aldrich, a manager at Eby’s Plainfield, IN DC gave me a rundown of the races at his facility. According to Aaron, they set up two piece-picking lines with equal assignments, and timed each of the competitors. They hooked up the user’s mobile computer to a wireless transmitter and patched the audio in to the PA system so that spectators could hear the racer’s dialogue with Jennifer.

According to Aaron, “Some of the family members were asking why Jennifer is speaking so fast, but the competitors probably wish she could go even faster!”

The race wasn’t just about speed, however. The racers were assessed a three second penalty for every error (wrong item or wrong quantity), plus a 20-second penalty for a sloppy tote. In Eby’s operation pickers are required to arrange items in totes so that they are easier to check and visually inspect – therefore the penalty. “The fastest finisher didn’t win the top prize. The winners were slow, steady and accurate,” says Aaron.

For next year, Aaron said they are thinking of setting up relay races with several people in each of the lines. He also said the Michigan DC set up a separate picking area where kids were able to use the Lucas software to pick candy. Everything they picked, they got to eat. Picking with Jennifer really is child’s play!

Eby-Brown organized picking races and games to add fun and give families a look at the tools employees use every day. We regularly hear of pickers who compete to post the best productivity rates, turning their daily work into a friendly competition, a game, even.

Gamification – incorporating elements of games in software applications – is one of the latest trends in software design. And Lucas is already working on new ways to “gamify” our products, both for hourly associates and for managers. Making work fun improves morale, boosts retention, and when done right, gamification can spur higher productivity and performance.

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