The Power of Gamification for Organizational Development

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Gamification is a great way to increase engagement levels and create an environment where people are more willing to take on new challenges. The idea of gamifying the workplace has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that companies and organizations have started motivating employees with gamified workplace processes in order to achieve business goals.

The last decade or so has seen the rise of a number of different business gamification examples around the world, such as SAP's Business Game, The Coca-Cola Company's Refresh Project, and Microsoft's Office 365 Developer Challenge.

In this blog post, we will explore what gamification is, how it can be used in organizational development work, its benefits, and how you could use game mechanics at your office too!

So, let’s go over what gamification is, and how it can be a powerful tool when used correctly within organizations.

What is Gamification?

The concept of gamification has been around since the 1960s. The term was coined by Howard Rheingold in 1985 to describe how computer games and other aspects of popular culture can be used for motivation, engagement, and learning. The idea is that game mechanics are used to motivate behaviour and incentivize users to not only complete tasks with greater levels of enjoyment but also have a greater value for their work.

Since childhood, we've been using real-world gaming as an educational tool, such as scrabble, cop-thief, monopoly, and so on, all of which are an example of how games and the concept of play can teach us life skills and increase our ability through competition, feedback, learning, and recognition.

And now based on a similar notion, the new management trend correlates Gamification and HR. As defined by Gartner Group, Gamification in HR, is the usage of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game scenarios within the business organization, such as daily processes like recruitment, training, and onboarding; which can help engage users and solve problems.

According to a Gallup research article released in July 2020, approximately only 38% of employees are "engaged" in their jobs. The research also revealed that employees who are engaged at work, are those with a high emotional commitment to their organization and employers, and are nearly three times more likely to report higher levels of productivity than the average employee.

A number of industry experts believe that gamification programs are an effective way in which organizations can combat any decreases in office engagement levels.

Game Mechanics

Points, badges, leaderboards, and challenges can all be utilized as game mechanics in the workplace in order to improve productivity, with the idea simply being: make work more fun!

Gamification can be used to help develop employees' personal growth and knowledge in training environments, as well as increase sales byways of motivation. Many businesses use gamification for recruitment, employee training, evaluation, as well as organizational productivity.

Successful gamification exploits the user's intrinsic motivation to acquire more skills in their job and offers extrinsic motivation such as rewards, points, and badges.

The use of game mechanics within the office can transform an employee's approach towards a task.

Game Mechanics can include:


Points are measurable displays of accomplishment. They help participants monitor their progress, both keeping score and establishing status. Points are awarded for completing activities, sharing, sales, or contributing to team projects.


Levels are indicators that a user has reached a milestone. Levels are often defined as point thresholds so that employees can automatically level up based on their participation, or use levels to indicate status within their department.

Levels indicate that an individual has reached a point of achievement and progression that has elevated them into a more advanced ring of goals and objectives they are now deemed capable of achieving.

Leveling up is used to identify status within a community and to unlock new objectives, badges, activities, and rewards. Levels and goals help to map an employee's progression through a system. It can be as important to see where you can go next as it is to see where you have been.


Challenges help keep people interested, just when participants may feel like they have mastered all that there is to master within certain programs, that is when you test their knowledge and skill, provoking them into applying it to a unique business challenge. Overcoming challenges will make people feel they have earned their achievements.

Gamification is all about user engagement and challenges are a way of making the process less robotic, forcing individuals to get off autopilot and actually get involved in what they’re doing.


One of the best ways to motivate an employee into giving the task at hand, all that they’ve got, is to show them how they compare to others, as an individual or in a team. The use of leaderboards helps users see where they rank amongst others.

Leaderboards cultivate the social aspect of points and badges. The sense of competition that is built around a leaderboard, gives people a chance to prove themselves against others. It can be a way to win rewards, but can also be a place where new relationships are formed.

The benefits of Gamification in Business

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

Beyond that, gamification can really help engage your employees, motivate action, and promote and encourage learning. It can also provide a positive impact on problem-solving, team coordination, and even improve employee morale. Turns out turning mundane tasks into a game really does pay off.

What Gamification in the office looks like

Used in many different parts of business, from employee onboarding to sales, gamification has increased employee engagement and overall retention rates of employees by up to 88% in some cases.

The benefits of gamification can be found in the increased level of creativity, cooperation, and collaboration, as well as improved performance. The more engaged people are at work, the better they will perform their jobs and that makes it a no-brainer for any type of business to embrace game mechanics into their organizational strategies.

The best examples of companies using gamification to encourage the workforce are those that motivate employees with intrinsic motivation. The most beneficial types of gamification can be used to present employees with a compelling reason to not only do their jobs but also increase their performance and ability within the organization through a constant learning & management system that provides feedback and recognition in an engaging, gaming-style program.

This may sound as though gamification is technology-dependent, requiring the latest in virtual and augmented reality as a way of engaging team members, but this simply is not the case.

The management within your company or organization could see a great increase in learning, retention, and performance from teams by simply incorporating "play" into a standard process to create something new or add value to an old routine, such as adding a competitive, company-wide wager to any employees that are engaging with a customer in a sales capacity.

While customer sales games are an obvious example, there are plenty of other areas of the office that company management could inject some "play" that do not require gamified technology, such as monthly performance goals, customer interactions, the hiring process, internal education & learning, and HR.

The key is presenting your idea as if it were a game. The act may not always be fun, but at least they’ll feel rewarded when they complete it successfully and engage in what they’re doing for the duration.

Many corporations use gamification programs recreationally to improve team morale by making mundane tasks more like games within their business operations, they have seen an increase in the number of employees coming into work on time, higher engagement levels between teams, and an overall increase in productivity.

How are Businesses currently using Gamification?

The power of gamification for organizational development can best be seen in the use of game mechanics to improve employee morale and productivity. 

Companies that have implemented gamification in their own businesses, including The Protein Chef, who rewards employees with free protein bars for reaching their health goals, and The UBS Financial Services Group who "gamified" their six-week online training program for new hires by assigning game points for completing training modules and quizzes. 

The United Nations, who is using gamification techniques to help The World Food Programme reach its goal of distributing food for 100 million people by 2016.

Gamification in the workplace can be a positive tool for organizational development when it's used correctly. The type of game mechanics that are incorporated into an office environment should have specific objectives and goals so as to not get in the way but in fact aid progress.

Employee engagement and culture are keys to success.

Tools that strategically motivate and engage employees are critical to success in a competitive environment. Leaders and organizations that don't meet this challenge are at risk of being left behind. Those looking to accomplish real change and achieve high-level success in the future must first focus on investing time and effort into strengthening their work culture.

Booz & company studies show that organizational culture is a key aspect to success from an organizational perspective. Almost half of the C-level executives and 84 percent of the workforce believe that culture plays an important role in its successful development. A total of 96 percent said changing or adding to that culture is needed. 51 percent said their Culture needs serious changes.

The study has found that the vast majority of businesses reflect the current models of the late industrial era of business; the unraveling of social trust between employer and employee has only accelerated in the past few years.

As more and more leaders of both small businesses and large companies look to shape their business cultures to adopt higher standards of purpose, mastery, relationships, competition, and engagement, one thing is for certain, overlooking the connectivity gamification can provide employees with their work will no longer be an option.

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