Have you collected reward points at a store to be a gold member? Or, have you completed your profile on a website because you wanted the progress bar to reach 100 percent?
Brands ‘gamify’ in this manner to motivate you for completing tasks.
And what is this gamification thingy?
The human body releases a chemical called dopamine when it experiences satisfaction or pleasure. Gamification is leveraging the human need of wanting to compete and facilitating the release of this chemical dopamine to increase engagement, participation, and loyalty. An awesome utility of gamification is that it can help you get more work done.
In this article, we’ll discuss five ways to increase productivity by application of gamification techniques. However, first, let’s get down to the basics.
Don’t gamify work without getting your employees on board…
Before you begin gamification, you need the consent of the participants. Otherwise, you wouldn’t reach your desired goals. In their research on using games to create a positive experience at work, Ethan Mollick and Nancy Rothbard found three essential factors.
- Consent: Your employees need to acknowledge that they are playing a game
- Legitimation: Understand the rules of the game
- Sense of Individual Agency: They need to believe that the game is fair
Once you take care of these aspects, then you can design gamification mechanics based on your goals. Are you seeking changes in employee behavior and skills? Then tread accordingly.
Now let’s look at the five ways you can use gamification to improve employee engagement.
1. Gamification is a great motivator
When technology giant SAP wanted to motivate their sales professionals, they fell back on Roadwarrior, a gamification app.
As per studies, 95% of employees enjoy using gamified systems. Employees who enjoy their work are motivated to work harder and perform better.
Enjoyment at the workplace is fun and keeps the staff happy, and if employees are happy, their productivity increases.
Gamification, by its competitive element, inspires employees to strive for better results which increases their efficiency.
The game design elements used in gamification like points, leaderboards and badges, satiate the psychological needs of recognition, achievement, and appreciation, which, in turn, motivate to perform.
Instead of using the traditional approach of brainstorming sessions, companies are increasingly using gamification to motivate their employees.
Gamification was used by tech giant SAP to increase the productivity of their employees, by preparing them to tackle complex sales meetings with clients.
The app simulated client meetings and took real examples and data on customer needs. While playing the game, the sales professionals had to answer questions to clients accurately. They earned badges and competed against each other.
This provided sales professionals with a better understanding of what to expect and helped them succeed in their meetings.
2. Gamification increases employee engagement
Gamification increases participation of employees due to its gaming mechanics and fun element. This increase in participation results in better employee engagement which in turn improves productivity.
One of the other reasons why gamification works in engaging employees is because they can see the results of their work immediately. Hence, they can make changes in their efforts and remove hindrances, resulting in real-time engagement.
For example – The salesforce software at Lawley Insurance was not being updated by its employees, which resulted in a messy forecast and incorrect reporting.
Lawley instituted a two-week challenge where employees could earn points for updating their files, logging their phone calls, and scoping out prospects.
According to Concur.com reports, “The contest was responsible for generating the same amount of Salesforce activities in two weeks as had been created in the prior 7 ½ months.”
3. Gamification improves performance management
According to a Forbes article by Eric Jackson, two of the reasons why bosses do performance appraisals wrong are, “No pats on the back” and “No recognition for doing the work of 3 people.”
Gamification solves these issues by recognizing the efforts of your employees by giving them rewards and recognition in the form of badges, points, or leaderboard achievements.
A typical corporate set up requires you to follow three significant steps for managing performance measurement of your employees – goal setting, performance tracking, and feedback.
With gamification, you can set the goals of your employees with data. Data can be measured, and hence, you can judge the performance objectively.
For example, stating that your employees need to participate in innovation is subjective. However, if 500 dollars need to be saved through innovation to earn a badge point, it results in a more measurable goal setting. It is trackable and a target-oriented methodology.
Gamification helps in performance tracking of employees by tracking their behavior and skills using embedded analytics and automated reports.
Come review time, and you will have a better understanding of how well an employee has done with the help of online record in your gamification app.
All the achievements and tasks completed are readily available.
You will also come to know how well that employee worked with their peers from the number of badges they’ve received.
When employees receive objective, transparent, and data-backed feedback they can work on improving their performances.
4) Gamification helps in better time management
When employees are motivated and engaged, they become competent and efficient, resulting in time savings.
Efficient employees mean better customer satisfaction and less customer inquiry, which in turn means less time wastage.
Gamification also saves the time of managers in performance management of employees by streamlining goal-setting and feedback. So, managers and senior leadership can concentrate on other priorities. Ultimately, that translates into time savings.
Time savings or, less time wastage results in better time management and hence, improved productivity.
Gamification increases the efficiency of employees by focusing them. Better focused employees consume less time to complete their work.
One such app that uses gamification to increase employee focus (and hence manage time) is “forest.”
In this app, you plant a “seed” whenever you need a block of time (say 30 minutes) to focus. That seed will become a tree over that period.
Eventually, if you’ve worked for those chunks of your blocked time (30 minutes) without leaving the app, you’ll grow an entire forest of trees.
However, if you leave the app in the blocked time, the tree will die.
This visual representation of your focus results in better efficiency and time management, thereby improving productivity.
5. Gamification elevates learning of employees
Designing gamified solutions that address learner preferences ensures knowledge retention. As a result, the performance of employees improves, as they can apply their learnings.
A responsive learning environment also motivates employees to add to the organization’s knowledge. This increase in the knowledge base of the organization results in better training for future employees.
The initial learning experience of an employee in an organization, during onboarding, can also be improved through gamification.
“Employees who undergo a structured onboarding experience are 58 percent more likely to remain with a company for at least three years. Using gamification in your onboarding process can contribute to greater engagement, and therefore greater retention.”
One example of leveraging gamification for the learning of employees is of NTT Data, a premier tech firm. They were facing issues in succession planning i.e., to identify and develop future leaders of their company.
Internally, NTT data constructed Ignite Leadership Game that gave their employees the chance to experience leadership situations and management competencies.
In the Ignite Leadership Game, employees receive feedback through comments and level progress. To get recognition for their work, they earn badges.
This information is also visible to organizational leaders to help them identify high potentials.
The first year the Ignite Leadership Game rolled out, 70 people were enrolled. Of those 70, 50 took on leadership roles, 30 new ideas were established, which resulted in over $1 million in revenue, and employee referrals increased by 30 percent.
Gamification is here to stay.
Harnessing the passion of humans in gaming activities and sinking it with the desired objective can help achieve the boost your productivity needs.
The future of gamification depends on how well organizations use it. Rather than putting it as “an extra,” it is time for businesses to invest in this tool, the results will follow.