Engaging employees is becoming increasingly difficult in a society that’s full of distractions.
Our smartphones are forever disturbing us with notifications, and with the internet an ever-present tool, the dangers of falling down one of the numerous holes of procrastination are a genuine threat to productivity.
If employees aren’t engaged at work, they’ll quickly get bored, and boredom leads to procrastination. This is a trend that can take place right under the nose of company bosses and quickly reach a stage where turning back becomes nigh on impossible.
As a result, employee disengagement can rapidly transform into something far more concerning, ending with people unexpectedly leaving the business and increasing staff turnover.
Granted, we’ve painted a pretty bleak picture above, but the good news is there are now some fantastic ways to stop employees getting bored, and in the modern world of HR, it all starts with something called ‘gamification’.
What is gamification?
Anyone who regularly indulges in video gaming will know the immense satisfaction that can be derived from levelling up, solving puzzles and increasing one’s virtual skills. It’s addictive and tempts anyone that falls under its spell to invest as much time as possible in bettering their ability.
Despite what you might think, gamification doesn’t refer to the process of filling an office full of video game consoles (although, if you feel that’ll improve morale without detracting from the work – go for it!). Instead, it refers to the process of introducing video game-like elements into the business in order to raise employee engagement and increase productivity.
Classic examples might include a points scoring system for the sales team’s client acquisition effort or an employee onboarding process that mimics a computer game by guiding the new member of staff through a series of ‘levels’ as they learn about their new role.
Things to consider before introducing gamification
Given the nature of gamification within the workplace, it’s important to consider several important points before diving in head first. Pick the wrong type of gamification or introduce it ineffectively, and you risk taking employees’ eyes off the task in hand.
Gamification should help increase productivity levels by increasing the emotional connection everyone has with their role; it should make employees care about what they do each day and strive for continual improvement.
Before gamifying anything in the workplace, ask yourself three questions:
• Will it devalue the work? As noted, if you introduce gamification methods that detract from the real work, they’ll have the opposite effect. Make sure that any form of gamification you intend to introduce is designed to increase focus, rather than divert it.
• Does it work for all? There’s nothing wrong with different methods of gamification within different departments (in fact, it makes perfect sense), but if you’re looking to implement a system that everyone should benefit from, make sure it doesn’t alienate certain members of staff based on their position or role within the company.
• Is it team or individual based? We’ve talked a lot about the way gamification will benefit individuals, but it sometimes makes sense to focus on the team effort. After all, gamifying at the team level is a brilliant way to increase the productivity levels of a bunch of people at once.
Gamification isn’t for every business or industry. It might be an HR technique that simply doesn’t sit well with your organisation, and if that’s the case, you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out an opportunity by not introducing it.
On the contrary, if you can’t answer the three questions above confidently, gamification probably isn’t for your organisation.
If you’ve ended up with three positive answers, it’s time to consider how it might revolutionise your business!
Workplace gamification trends
We think there are three key trends in gamification that businesses should be aware of:
• Points. Whether earned for achieving a goal, interacting particularly well with a colleague or bringing in an unusually large new client, points are a great way for employees to track their achievements against their own efforts and those of colleagues.
• Leaderboards. There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition in the workplace, and by introducing a scoring system that results in a leaderboard of the top performers, businesses will quickly find that employees begin competing to finish top of the table.
• Awards and badges. Beyond the scoring of points, gamification is capable of providing real, tangible rewards for employees that go above and beyond. Keep such rewards exclusive, and avoid giving them away at any given opportunity, and their worth will increase considerably (even if the cost to the business is negligible).
Just one of the trends above might fit your business, or a combination thereof, but the key lies in experimentation; try out each and see how employees react – you’ll soon settle on a method of gamification that works for your business and its staff.
Examples of gamified apps
Introducing gamification isn’t particularly easy, but there are thankfully a number of tools businesses can use to avoid having to build schemes from scratch.
Below, we’ve picked out five brilliant apps that are designed to help businesses of all sizes embed productivity-enhancing gamification techniques that will spur on employees to do their best work.
The app works on the basis that to form a good habit you have to do it once, then do it again the next day, and the next. Each time you do it, it gets easier – but stop, and you break the chain, thus losing momentum.
Far from a simple to-do list app, Todoist introduces a ‘karma’ system, that enables users to gain karma (essentially, a form of point-scoring) by completing tasks. It’s uniquely addictive.
Another app that uses the ‘don’t break the chain’ methodology, HabitBull lets you track habits and set start and end dates for tasks. It also provides a convenient way to track progress as you go.
4. Productivity Challenge Timer
This app breaks large projects into bite-sized chunks, making them more achievable. It does this by creating work sessions that have a timer allocated and providing inspirational (and, sometimes, very funny) messages as you near the end of the task.
The apps above are designed for individual use, but the more you sing their praises as a business and encourage employees to try them out, the more everyone will be inspired by gamification in the workplace.
Equally, you might spot an opportunity in an existing app to develop your own platform or embed the best bits of it within your working practices.
Gamification is evolving at a rapid pace, and while it might not be the best solution for every business, the more it makes its way into our working lives, the more we’ll come to expect the ability to level up, gain points and receive tangible rewards for our efforts.
If you feel productivity slipping at your organisation, and people appear to be procrastinating rather than getting things done, gamification might be the perfect solution to your productivity woes.