Gamification refers to applying gaming elements and mechanics to non-game scenarios in order to improve outcomes. The application of gamification in the workplace helps in developing a sense of competitiveness among employees which is beneficial for them as well as the organization. The two gaming elements, namely rewards and recognition, are the top factors that improve employee motivation. 

There are many examples of how enterprises are adopting gamification in their businesses. Starbucks has gamified their customer rewards program to launch “My Starbuck Rewards”. Under this system, customers can increase their level of loyalty depending on the number of purchases they make. 

Google gamified the way their employees submit travel expenses by encouraging them to keep track of their business travel expenses. Employees are motivated to save from the money that is officially allocated for their business trip. The amount saved by employees is either paid back to them in addition to their salaries or donated to a charity of their choice. 

Incorporating gamification in the workplace has a positive psychological impact and motivates employees to achieve their potential. According to a survey, 90% of employees think gamification makes them more productive and, on an average, employees experience 60% engagement hike with a gamified work experience.

The positive impact of gamification in the workplace has seen the industry rise from US$ 4.91 billion in 2016 to US$ 12 billion in 2021.

How to Use Gamification at Work

Gamification in the workplace can increase employee motivation and engagement; however, a systematic approach must be adopted to reap the benefits of gamification. Further, you have to diligently select the business process or activities for which you would like to implement gamification and follow it with a careful design and development of gamification mechanics.

Some business objectives for which you can implement gamification are listed below:

  • Make learning fun and engaging

The most common use case for gamification is to make learning more engaging and fun. Gamification provides motivation to learners to make them active participants in the learning process. Eighty-nine percent of learners stated that the point system increases their engagement, while 82%  preferred the multiple difficulty levels offered in a gamified experience. 

  • Develop stronger bonds 

When hiring new employees, cultural alignment with the organization is important for employee engagement and longevity. The US Army has effectively extended the use of gamified experiences in their recruitment process, leveraging their training games into an awareness campaign by making them available to the general public. This gamified experience provided people a virtual soldier experience that was engaging, informative, and entertaining.

Similarly, Umbel—a big data start-up—created a game challenge as a screening process. The professional coders and amateurs were required to counter a series of opponents in a fighter-style, first-person game. However, in reality, they were coding the movements and the objective was to get points, which were meaningful to players as it reflected the progress of a candidate in the interview process. 

  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance

Many companies are choosing to incorporate gamification into their wellness programs to encourage employees to strike a balance between work and personal life, especially when work-from-home (WFH) has become the norm. Happy employees are more engaged and productive, and bring in positivity.

There are many use cases for which companies are implementing gamification to increase employee engagement and improve process outcomes. However, corporate learning remains the most preferred area for implementation of gamification in workplaces. According to a gamification at work report, employees like to see gamification in the workplace in the areas of training and communication.  

Gamification: Real-world Case Studies

  • Salesforce Gamification

Bunchball, a leading gamification vendor in Silicon Valley, delivered a solution that works natively in the Salesforce.com user interface. The user-friendly application displays a team leaderboard, a progress bar, and a featured challenge that can be customized. The application feature and team standings display the relative position of different teams with points and progress bars. The reward tabs offer either real-life or virtual goods selected by employees. The gamified experience provides intrinsic motivation to sales teams who get real-time feedback to motivate them to achieve short- and long-term goals.

  • SAP Community Network (SCN) Gamification

SAP Community Network (SCN) has been successfully applying game-mechanics to encourage participation of its members. The gamified network provides users points for blogging, answering questions on forums, contributing to the wiki pages or submitting white papers. The user’s rewards/points are aggregated across the different areas and shown on a leaderboard that is visible to everyone. 

SAP has included additional incentives for employees to give more value to these points. The points acquired on the community network are counted as a KPI for employee performance reviews. SCN badges are often used as qualifying criteria by the team to staff their projects with experts.

How to Implement Gamification

Here is a comprehensive list of modern gamification techniques that you can leverage to select gamification elements that are suitable for your organization use cases. 

Once you have incorporated gamification in your business process, you need to focus on involving employees and participants to promote the adoption. 

Some gamification tips to get you started are listed below:

  • Communicate the goals and process of the game

You need to on-board people for whom the gamified experience has been created. You need to communicate the objectives of the gamified process, criteria for different aspects of the game, rewards and prizes, individual and organization benefits, and any disqualification rules.

Once there is clarity among the intended participants, then engagement will be high and the gamification strategy will yield results. You should ensure that you communicate the organization objectives along with individual benefits to derive maximum value from gamification.

  • Diversified awards

The motivation varies for individuals and, accordingly, so should the incentives and rewards. Try not to limit the rewards type; rather, you could include variations that should be relevant and meaningful for your diverse employee base.

For example, the rewards of a badge may wear off after some time, and you need to complement such virtual rewards with real-life ones such as gift vouchers or discount coupons.

  • Recognize everyone

The gamification strategy should not alienate your employees who may not be among the top performers. You would like to increase employee participation and make everyone feel like it’s worth participating in. Your gamified experience should celebrate participation as well as achievements.

  • Track the gamification success

The implementation of the gamification strategy requires time and effort, and you need to track the success to assess the return on investments. When you created a gamification strategy, you had set business goals for your initiative and you needed to evaluate your gamification performance against the set goal. You can use metrics such as the number of employees that participated, the number of employees completing the goals, business performance improvements, and other relevant metrics, for evaluation.

Gamification in Training

Employees would prefer to see gamification in corporate compliance training, product and services training, and technical skill development. There is a strong positive correlation between gamified training and employee engagement, with 83% of employees feeling motivated with gamified learning. As employees feel motivated, they experience higher productivity and are a lot less bored. 

According to research, 70% of L&D professionals are going to apply gamification in corporate training programs. Visualized dashboards and progress bars, badges and trophies, and leaderboards are the top three preferred gaming elements incorporate learning. 

  • Dashboards and progress bars

The dashboards and progress bars show the completion status in terms of percentage or other metrics of the activity. The progress bars encourage users to complete the activity and reach a logical conclusion. 

  • Badges and trophies

These are compliments and acknowledgments of learners’ achievements, showcasing their expertise in a specific area.

  • Leaderboards

Leaderboards indicate the comparative ranking of learners and help develop a competitive spirit to excel in their desired fields.

As technological innovation continues to evolve, so will the application of gamification in the workplace. If you are looking for a technology partner to assist you with the implementation of gamification,  reach out to us.