How to Boost Productivity at the Workplace With Gamification

Monday, March 25, 2019

Looking for ways to up your game when it comes to work productivity? Funnily enough, upping your “game” may just be the answer! (See what I did there?!)

In a world that has had just about every industry become flooded with both overt and covert examples of gamification, it only makes sense that the principle be applied to the environment in which most people spend one third of their lives. The work place.

After all, if you’re going to spend a third of your life working, wouldn’t you want your work practices to be engaging, fun and motivating?

Gamification is an innovative methodology that uses typical game-world elements in business and professional contexts for stimulating the user’s involvement and personal growth, resulting in having leverage on their motivation.

The generic goal of gamification is to promote the active interest of users, their engagement, to modify their behaviours. For these reasons, a gamification strategy can be considered “successful” if it can seen to invoke change in an effective way on the recipient’s habits and behavioural performances.

What Gamification in the Office looks like

For gamification to have a positive effect on a business, it is necessary for its users to have Fun and to be Engaged. Gamification is based on 2 basic aspects:

  • Mechanics, which are the single bricks that build the whole products gamification structure; they are usually associated with actions that allow to reach business goals.

  • Dynamics, are the needs and desire, studied by behavioural psychology, rooted inside people and that could be gratified through interaction with game mechanics.

Game mechanics are expanded upon in this link, which include but are not reduced to;

  • Meaning & Purpose

  • Leaderboards

  • Loss Aversion

  • Feedback

  • Badgers

  • Points

  • Levelling Up

  • Goals

  • Social Network

  • Challenges

How Gamification Improves Office Culture

Gamification is about using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game think to engage people, motivate action, and promote learning. At the end of the day, gamification is really about trying to create a learning experience to help motivate people to change their behaviour. If done well, research has shown that gamification can enhance employee motivation by 51.6%, according to Karl Kapp, Instructional Technology Professor at Bloomsburg University.

Games provide a meaningful impact on our problem solving abilities, hand-eye coordination, and even our attitudes about learning itself. In addition to boosting our motivation to learn, games also offer a platform for learning which is accessible to any demographic.

To put it simply, gamification is the principle of turning ordinary tasks into a game.

For most of us having played some form of video games in our lives, you’ll notice characteristics of those games within gamification initiatives, such as:

  • Striving toward a goal (usually with milestones along the way)

  • Earning rewards

  • Levelling up

  • Plotting your way through a course

All of these gaming ideas can and have been incorporated into the everyday tools, apps, and operations of businesses. They become a great way to keep the team on track when it comes to training, development, time, task and project management.

TalentLMS conducted a 2019 survey on Gamification in the workplace which summarised the following:

Gamification works to engage the brain and trigger mechanisms which signal a connection between a reward and the work required to obtain it. As Zapier point out, this “mesolimbic pathway” is the same mechanism triggered when you go for a run or take an exercise class, then feel good about doing so afterward. It is the release of dopamine that causes this response and gamification does the same.

Major dopamine pathways highlighted pink. Higher levels of Dopamine in our primary rewards circuit, the ventral striatum (via the mesolimbic pathway), is correlated with higher motivation, as our brain 'chases after' a perceived reward.

A survey conducted by CallidusCloud found that 91% of employees acknowledged their work experience had improved when gamification practices were implemented.

How to Effectively Gamify the Office

The simple addition of gamification elements to the office will not solve any problems or tend to any pain points within the company. The following points need to be consciously considered and acted upon in order to have an effectively gamified office.

Understand the Profile of your Audience

Any audience is likely to possess fundamentally different motivational characteristics within it. You need to consider these differences when thinking about the engagement dynamics for your business applications. It is vital that you understand each aspect of these characteristics if you want to entice your user’s involvement.

Creating a gamified solution that has a healthy balance of game elements that address all four categories of the Gamer Psychology Bartle Test is the best way to make sure of this.

Link design to Business Objectives

It’s great to have fun and engage your team. But, if you’re using gamification as part of your everyday business activities, then you don’t want rewards for the sake of rewards or gamification that doesn’t really make sense.

Before implementing any gamification, sit down and work out what your end goals are for using it. This will help users to stay on track rather than get distracted by any misplaced components.

Get Employees Onboard Beforehand

Research shows that making participation in gamification compulsory for your team doesn’t work. You need to work on “buy-in” first.

The ‘mandated fun’ of gamification, however, will only work if employees consent to the game; otherwise, the attempt will have the opposite effect. So, how do you get that buy-in? In many teams, the fun of gamification means that won’t be a problem (as long as what you’re proposing actually is exciting). But otherwise, consider making your team members part of the decision-making process on implementing gamification.

Build Positive Emotions into your User Engagement

In this context think of ‘user engagement’ as the series of steps that you need to take in order to create the sustained engagement levels that will drive the outcomes you seek.Make it easy to Learn and difficult to Master

Consumer games have taught us that ‘learning’ is a key motivator that keeps people hooked and coming back for more. Think of this as the difference between a loyalty program and an engaging game. At no point are you learning anything by participating in a loyalty program, you are just simply collecting points and rewards for your actions which in itself is not particularly engaging. A truly engaging experience increases your cognitive learning, the outcome that we crave the most; a sense of personal achievement.

Make Rewards Meaningful

Not everyone is motivated by monetary rewards or salary increases. In fact, 69% find more motivation in one of the following: High performance, feelings of professional satisfaction, on-the-job recognition, the support of their colleagues, and advanced learning opportunities.

The positive feelings associated with the reward are a key ingredient for making gamification work.You want your team to be excited about participating and keen to be able to claim the rewards.


Final thoughts

There are more advanced gamification concepts that can further benefit your business, but starting with the basics -- badges, points, and leaderboards -- will go a long way in keeping your employees and customers engaged.

Gamifying everyday tasks or problems helps to engage your team and motivate them to do well and achieve in the reward system you use. Of course, this is dependent on you following a few best practices, such as getting team buy-in first and ensuring the gamified elements are meaningful and transparent.

A successful gamification approach in sales and customer service requires that we learn what has happened in consumer gaming. Simply adding game mechanics such as points, badges and leaderboards with no enduring engagement practices in place in turn will not drive sustained increase in business performance.

Success requires all of the following factors:

  • A good understanding of your audience’s motivation profile and how you will tap into their key intrinsic motivations.

  • The carefully considered use of game mechanics, dynamics and content that caters for an engagement journey spanning at least 12 months out.

  • Marketing communication content that highlights the positive emotions and is well tuned to the audience profile.

  • The discipline to regularly review, tune and refresh the behavioural engagement content to make sure it continually taps into people’s natural design for autonomy, mastery and purpose.

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