How T-Mobile Combines Gamification & Sustainability

Like many large companies, sustainability is an important consideration for T-Mobile. The telecommunications company has both national and international reach, and is always seeking solutions, ideas, and actionable ways to lower its environmental footprint – this may include advocating for environmental causes or participating in sustainability programs. One recent program initiated by T-Mobile combined gamification and a charitable reward to promote sustainable practices; the end result was increased corporate participation and a net positive impact on the environment.

Finding Sustainability in an Ever-changing World

Whether due to increasingly stringent regulations or corporate moral responsibility, more and more large companies are finding that they have to make a concerted effort to support or adopt sustainable business practices. This is no different for T-Mobile. Though when one thinks of sustainability, recycling and related initiatives come to mind, T-Mobile found success (and an opportunity) in an unlikely place – the business’ corporate travel program.

The Problem

T-Mobile’s corporate travel program incentivized employees for certain booking behaviors, all in the name of lowering corporate expenses and contributing to sustainability. The problem was that employees simply weren’t following along. The existing rewards – a $5 gift card, set of golf balls, or T-Mobile swag pack – failed to ignite any type of enthusiasm among the company’s employees, particularly those who skewed younger in age.

In order to incentivise participation, new rewards and tactics had to be imagined. T-Mobile discovered that gamification techniques can’t be effective if the game itself isn’t fun or fulfilling. And in this scenario, being rewarded with a $5 gift card or branded t-shirt simply for booking a lower airline ticket wasn’t cutting it. So how to contribute to T-Mobile’s sustainability initiatives and foster adoption on behalf of employees?

The Solution

The solution, as it turns out, was as easy as changing the reward. T-Mobile’s senior manager of travel, expense, and card, Robert Jacobsen, found that the company’s younger employees weren’t susceptible to visual guilt, reminders, and other “scare” tactics. However, he found that by offering an incentive that truly captured their attention, he could increase participation. That incentive? A charitable donation to the Eden Project, an organisation and initiative committed to the reforestation of Haiti.

The Eden Project not only plants trees in Haiti (it costs just $0.10 to plant one tree), but it employs local Haitians in its quest to reforest lost acreage. This charitable cause not only provided T-Mobile with an opportunity to increase adoption of its travel programs for corporate employees, but provided a means of achieving corporate sustainability goals as well. In the end, it turned out to be a win-win for the company and its employees.

The Result

Perhaps not surprisingly, T-Mobile found that a charitable donation to a worthwhile cause had much more of an impact on employees than a $5 gift card (one makes a difference in the world, the other seems like a throwaway reward). Robert Jacobson reports that adoption and compliance with the company’s travel programs has increased, and the program’s success has resulted in nearly 90,000 trees being planted across Haiti.

Sustainability is the Future of Business

With environmental concerns becoming more of a pressing issue with each passing day (everyone from President Obama to Pope Francis have made it a focus of theirs in recent months), we are quickly arriving at a time when large corporations will have to focus on sustainability as much as they do research or product development. T-Mobile and corporations like it recognise this, and are taking steps now to look out not only for their customers, but the planet as well.

With free 4G LTE for tablets and great deals on devices like the Galaxy Note 5, customers already have much to applaud T-Mobile for. In a sea of telecommunications providers, T-Mobile stands out, there can be no doubt. With their latest sustainability efforts, T-Mobile is providing one more reason for customers to consider the telecommunications giant over its competitors. Ultimately, whether customers switch or not is somewhat inconsequential, as so long as T-Mobile continues with its sustainability program, everyone benefits.