Mind the Gap
A digital board game to address workplace culture through participatory decision making.
Researcher, User Interface Design
Tools Used: Figma, Miro, Photoshop
Great Resignation, Game Design, Workplace Culture
To create a means of convening such that employees and employers are made aware of the widening gap in their communication within their organization.
During this project, I was a UX Designer and UX Researcher on a team of 3 (with a 12-member class at Parsons)
I was involved with each stage of the process, which included:
Presenting (creating the visual style of the entire team)
On a typical day, 3 out of 5 employees are not content with their work culture.
42% of onsite workers are more likely to leave their current position.
28% of hybrid workers are more likely to leave their current position.
How do we reverse these odds?
Addressing good workplace culture through a game. Enter Mind the Gap
A game that imitates how a company would operate, through the magic of roleplaying.
A glimpse of the game
How to play
Using role playing mechanics, Mind the Gap lets players navigate the game through a prompt based story.
Play a prescribed character, and on each turn, become the decision maker to drive the direction of the game.
Mediators create game rooms and host a session, and can choose from multiple options to define a particular game.
As the game concludes, players reveal their identities to each other, and the moderator conducts a 4-step reflection process to evaluate how the game was played.
The types of choices made
Journey of the narrative
Journey of the narrative
But how does a board game address this? Let's start at the very beginning.
US employees strongly agree that their manager does not involve them in setting their goals at work.
U.S. employees strongly agree that at work, their opinions don't count.
New Hiring rounds
New hire onboarding
Drop in revenue
Infamous work culture
Our plan of action
Together with the Aspen Institute, I realized it was important to settle some factors.
Clarify the semantic nuances & ambiguities
Dissect & untangle
the vast problem
Crystallize the actual problem, “80-20” style
Their Business and Society Department works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society. Hence the solution we create will help their Ideas Lab develop a toolkit for convening that would enable organizations to see the value of their employees.
Can we turn
Of American workers surveyed by Gallup reported that at work, their opinions really count
Of American workers surveyed reported that at work, their opinions really count
To start with, I wanted to speak to front line workers and create profiles
He is a barista at a local Starbucks.
Of Latin origin, he highlighted the lack of empathy and support that he generally faces on a day-to-day basis.
He was glad that a labor union was formed at Starbucks. That helped him feel noticed
What we found
Assigned to role
Review of work
New company search
Hopeful & anxious
Excited & charged
Content, yet hopeful for more
Uncertain yet content
Hopeful & anxious
We asked our participants what it means to not have voice gaps:
"The freedom for anyone who work to express themselves and in doing so create value at work."
Which gave us the three points below:
LOW AGENCY & PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
Workers feel neither empowered nor safe to voice out feedback
LACK OF COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS
Workers lack means to voice out feedback
Workers and Decision Makers ineffectively give and elicit feedback from each other
And, our ability to form meaningful working experiences depends on three scenarios
How do I work?
Where we are working?
Who we are working with?
We decided to focus on the who we are working with. This provided the first insight.
Front-line workers have business intelligence but don't have many opportunities to show this. So, Mind the Gap resolves this by giving opportunities to decide how the game progresses through prompts.
Question Heading for each stage of the narrative.
Prompts presented for with consequences.
But this got messy
In the weeks we worked on this project, coordination between 3 team members part of a 12-person class was difficult, to say the least.
To resolve this, we decided to granulate roles, by operating as a design firm. From client and project management to the design team, this started to work smoothly.
This provided us with another insight.
Roles and Responsibility
Workers love to feel responsible and have roles. Hence in Mind the Gap, players have character profiles, with each person in the game having a specific goal and outcome.
Game Character cards
Each player is presented as their character.
With a few insights in, and a mountain of data from our experts and worker interviews, I started building the screens.
We conducted workshops within the class and learned so much from each other's diverse work experience. Through this variety, however, there were certain factors that were very similar, factors that worked.
Ingredients for Organizational Success
We came up with 4 distinct parts that lead to successful organizing.
Build and earn organizational trust
Break down silos
See all Workers as assets, not liabilities
Aim to Lead, not just Manage
Participation and decisions go hand in hand. So we created a system for huddles and rewarded this behavior in the game. But like life, this is randomised so you win or lose.
Once done, we presented this to the Aspen Institute
A fictional title to see the future possibilities. There were talks of the benefits this game would bring and strategy of implementation.
Increases retention and performance
Makes employees feel
Leads to a 100% Increase in employee ideas being heard.
The game is introduced to organizations by Aspen Institute.
Aspen hosts games with interested parties
The game and concept evolve as more players play.
Leading to new game narratives, and more companies utilizing this method to foster a better working relationship with their employees. Workers stay longer within companies and work better with this job security.
- Resonated with the novel concept.
- Inspired to explore the next steps. Suggested new plot points for better relatability. Also requested the game files to workshop themselves.
- More time to conduct usability testing which would lead to a better way to track the story as well as learn how to execute the retrospective stage.
- Access to client through informal means, to receive quick feedback on design directions.