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Gamification: A motivational tool for the workplace

By 05/05/2017March 29th, 2022Business

Today, society is full of distractions. Our smartphones are forever disturbing us with notifications while the internet is ever-present, waiting for us to use it. The possibility of falling down the rabbit hole of procrastination is greater than ever and poses a genuine threat to our productivity – be it in an educational or work setting. 

When it comes to education, we spend a significant portion of our lives learning new information. However, education is only effective if it motivates you. It’s very easy to procrastinate and neglect your studies when you’re not passionate and motivated to do the work. 

On the other hand, there’s the world of work. Employees who aren’t engaged with their tasks quickly become bored, which leads to procrastination. Employee disengagement can rapidly transform into something far more concerning where employees leave the business unexpectedly, resulting in increased staff turnover. 

This may seem like a pretty bleak picture; however, there’s a solution to this issue – gamification. This amazing tactic can help raise employee engagement and aid in information retention. Let’s take a look at this new and exciting motivation tool. 

What is gamification?

In a day-to-day setting, it’s likely that you’ve already experienced the process of gamification first-hand. Every time you buy a coffee or drink, you’ll likely hand over a punch card that is stamped to confirm your purchase. That notches you up a level and pushes you closer to a particular goal (usually a free drink).

Despite what you may 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, gamification refers to the process of introducing game-like elements and principles into non-game situations (like the business environment). The purpose of this is to raise engagement, boost motivation levels and increase productivity.

Things to consider before introducing gamification 

Gamification should help increase productivity levels by increasing the emotional connection everyone has with their work; it should help make employees or students care about what they do each day and strive for continual improvement. 

Gamification isn’t for every business, industry or educational setting. It might be a 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 on an opportunity by not introducing it. So, before gamifying anything in the work or education environment, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Will it devalue the work? As noted, if you introduce gamification methods that detract from the real work, it’ll have the opposite effect. So, make sure that any form of gamification you intend to introduce is designed to increase focus rather than divert it.
  2. Does it work for all? There’s nothing wrong with different methods of gamification within different departments (in fact, it makes perfect sense). However, if you’re looking to implement a system that everyone should benefit from, make sure it doesn’t alienate anyone based on what they do. 
  3. 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.

How can gamification be implemented in the workplace?

Gamification comes in many shapes and sizes. Whether you find yourself in the workplace or an educational setting, you can manipulate these game-like elements to suit almost any scenario. 

  • Points

Whether earned for completing a task, learning a new skill, passing a training course, achieving a goal, bringing in an unusually large, new client or interacting well with a peer or colleague, points are a great way for employees or students to track their achievements against their own efforts and those of colleagues or peers.

  • Leaderboards

There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition in the workplace. By introducing a scoring system that results in a leaderboard of the top performers, businesses will quickly find that employees begin competing to finish at the top of the table.

  • Awards & badges

Beyond the scoring of points, gamification is capable of providing real, tangible rewards for employees. Such rewards should be kept exclusive and only given out in specific situations. This will increase their worth considerably (even if the cost to the business is negligible).

  • Simulations

This is more likely to apply within an educational or training context. A simulation-based learning environment entails creating real-world scenarios which people deal with from the safety of a laptop or tablet. Here, those who are learning can explore challenges, and the eventual reward makes for a far more exciting and motivating process. 

Simulated-like experiences can also get employees ready for real-world scenarios – McDonald’s is perhaps best known for doing this. For example, their cash register training sessions are capable of simulating busy periods and offering rewards for successful stints in a virtual working environment. This enables employees to learn in a quasi-live situation that is challenging yet accepting of failure. Get it wrong the first time? Try again!

  • Inductions

Inducting a new employee into an organisation can go one of two ways. It’ll either be an inclusive affair where they’re immediately welcomed into the family and given work of a meaningful nature, or they’ll be left feeling alienated and more of a nuisance than a team member.

Gamification can make the induction experience a far more enjoyable one, and it is capable of greatly reducing the amount of paperwork and shadowing that usually dominates the first few days of a new career.

Company processes, procedures and the setup of network profiles can all be turned into mini gaming tasks where the new employee levels up as they gradually induct themselves into the team. Think of it as you would the initial instructional level that features in most video games.

Examples of gamified apps

Introducing gamification isn’t particularly easy, but there are thankfully a number of tools businesses, and educational facilities can use to avoid having to build schemes from scratch.

Below, we’ve picked out four brilliant apps that have been primarily designed for businesses, helping them embed productivity-enhancing gamification techniques that will spur employees to do their best work. However, these apps can easily be used in educational settings too. 

  • Streaks

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 once, and you’ll break the chain, thereby losing momentum.

  • Todoist

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.

  • HabitBull

Another app that uses the ‘don’t break the chain’ methodology is HabitBull which lets you track habits and set start and end dates for tasks. It also provides a convenient way to track progress as you go.

  • 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.

While these above are designed for individual use, you can easily encourage employees to try them out. 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 or educational setting.

Wrapping Up

Learning and work should always be enjoyable. Gamification offers learners and employees a fun way to get through their tasks while keeping them motivated and boosting productivity. 

While it may not work for everyone, 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.

About Natural HR 

Natural HR is a cloud-based HR software company for growing businesses with 100+ employees. Since launching in 2010, we’ve been building a comprehensive suite of HR functionality that equips the small to medium-sized enterprise with everything needed to build an effective and efficient HR operation.