Gamification in the workplace is designed to really do one thing and do it well. The idea is to take tasks that employees usually do not want to do and make them fun by adding a game like element to them. This works sometimes, and other times it does not.
It works in the cases where it actually does four simple things:
- It causes employees to engage. According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of employees report that they are not engaged in their jobs. This is a problem for employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. A good gamification of work helps address all these things.
- Gamification offers immediate signs of achievement and progress. Many employees report that they go through a typical work week with little or no feedback on their performance. Many get none but their quarterly or annual reviews. Gamification seeks to give constant feedback and updates on progress and how employees meet these expectations.
- Gamification allows the best and brightest to shine. It lets those who do well top leaderboards and display visually and with rewards how well they do at their jobs.
- Gamification is a new type of credential. Contributions and achievements can be used by employees when they are looking to move into a new position or even look for another job in the industry. These game prizes often carry as much value as completed certifications.
An example would be sending your web development team after the best seo tools and keywords for your website, or giving points to employees who do repetitive tasks as a means to keep score.
The problem is gamification is like anything else. If it is overused or used in the wrong way, it can actually be harmful to your company workplace. Here’s why:
- Many efforts to gamify the workplace fail because the company slaps a game onto any process it thinks might benefit from it without thinking of ways to meaningfully add fun to employees lives. Without balancing competition and collaboration, gamification is meaningless.
- Forced gamification is not really fun. Employee participation needs to be voluntary, and the game needs to be something they want to do. The reason games work is because people want to play. If an employee is forced to play, the process has turned from a game into a form of coercion.
- Cheaters never prosper, and neither do their companies. The competitive desire to win a game can inspire some to cheat, using any means to win. This also means they will be stabbing their coworkers in the back. When employees are rewarded for answering online forum questions, it can be tempting for them to create fake IDs and answer their own questions in order to get ahead, and that is just one example.
- The novelty wears off. Gamers play a game until they beat it, and then move on. Companies need to keep the game changing, otherwise it gets old, and employees become just as disengaged from the game as they were from the original task.
Regardless of the pros and cons, companies continue to try gaming as a way to engage employees. Here are three companies who are using gamification to make work more fun.
This company uses gamification to make certain projects more fun and engaging. For one, they played an All-Star baseball like game when the All-Star game was happening down the street from their office to get through a mountain of tech tickets in their CRM software.
The keys were:
- The game went on for a limited time.
- It helped keep employees’ eyes on the prize
- Rewards were tangible, but the game itself was fun.
Other such games have made the company productive and successful.
For Spotify, traditional reviews and evaluations were met with little enthusiasm. So the company adopted a social media like platform called Ryppie. Employees and supervisors interact regularly through this site, and badges and prizes are awarded for a job well done.
Another company that used a social platform to gamify feedback, SAP used its SAP Community Network to give contributors points for feedback and answers in the Forums. These points and badges than became like certifications. Many employees used them when they applied for promotions or other jobs.
Like some other such systems, SAP had to retool and reevaluate the systems to keep some employees from cheating, who were using the system by answering their own questions created under fake IDs, but the system is much better now, and provides a real incentive for employee engagement.
Gamification is more than just a fad. It is a huge industry and gaining grounds. The anticipated growth by 2020 is 46%. However, it needs to be done right, otherwise gamification can actually be a detriment to employee performance. However, if you put some thought into it and you engage employees properly, gamification can help employees be more engaged and increase your company’s profits as well.