Gamification -- Improve Employee Engagement Through Play

Work and play don’t need to be separate. In fact, the jointure of the two serves as the foundation of a radical new workplace philosophy that engages employees with fun, exciting and fulfilling challenges. Companies are employing loyalty programs and behavioral economics to drive productivity and engage team members through a process called gamification.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the application of game elements and principles in non-game contexts. It is the name for a set of tools that pairs behavioral psychology with business processes to drive operational performance, reduce employee turnover and hit goal KPIs as a team or organization. While gamification has been around for a while, organizations now enjoy a wide variety of tools, design disciplines, tech and even certification programs that allow for gamification in a scalable, repeatable way.
The concept of gamification originated with video game companies. These organizations took game’s unification theory and played around with how it could apply to business. Soon, every workplace process became a game, and these companies watched in awe as their employees became more invested in excellent performances. This comes as no surprise to anyone who’s watched kids learn and grow.
Children learn to engage with their culture and environment by playing games and retain their learning when the games are fun and challenging. Most kids don’t want to perform chores, but if they can earn points for folding laundry or washing dishes in exchange for fun recognition, they’re much more likely to do it.
Gamification in the workplace
We know gamification makes players more engaged and willing to play, so what are the benefits of applying it to your company? There are many areas where this process can jump start your success. According to Brian Andersen, these include operational performance improvements, turning average employees into rockstars and driving up employee retention as much as 87%. Gamification processes are also useful in recruiting processes and even onboarding.
Over 50% of global brands already utilize gamification. Uber was built off of it! Most people want something more than a paycheck, so engagement is crucial for retaining your company’s top performers. And gamification boosts the success of average workers by nearly 147% compared to non-gamifying organizations. How? Games incentivize them, get them addicted to working hards and wanting to earn success.
Think of it this way: you can either have a punitive motivation (“I don’t want to get fired”) or positive motivation (win performance-based points to redeem for extra vacation days). The positive reinforcement of gamification can be geared toward individual employees and large teams, but it needs to make people want to earn that recognition.
Designing your game
The key to successfully implementing game-play into your work processes lies in a thorough, thoughtful evaluation of your company’s values, your employees' values and your organizational goals. Think: what’s holding your employees back, why aren’t they invested? What’s important to your team and how can you incorporate those in the rules of your game?
There are loads of different tools available to help you gamify your company. Over 122 companies focus on launching gamification platforms, technological programs, analysis dashboards and more with which to figure out your game. Integration, too, is an up-and-coming fad that makes it easier to implement gamification into your company’s existing toolkit. A variety of consultants and experts can also guide your company towards gamification, and certification courses will teach existing members of your company the ropes.
Once you’ve committed and found the tools you need, the next step is to formulate a benchmarking process. Identify your current data, look to your goals and see what the gap is between those two. Gamification needs to be adopted from the top-down, so make sure you evaluate everyone from managers to interns.
When you put the thought and research behind your efforts, you’ll know what goals you have for your team and a good idea of ways to motivate workers to get there. Software developers who want to generate code with as few errors as quickly as possible will have one set of game rules, while customer service members have particular KPIs for interfacing with your clientele. These analytics and goals are how you design the game and implement the fun in reaching those goals.
Brian Andersen is Founder and CEO of Telecomprehensive Solutions, a telecommunications & technology brokerage headquartered in Orange County. Brian is a keynote speaker and Chair of the Business & Workforce Development Committee for the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. He leads Business Attraction & Retention efforts to unify our local Startup Ecosystem, connect business & provide education to empower Orange County's Workforce
and other strategic Economic Development initiatives. In addition, He also serves on the Advisory Council for the Southern California Hospice Foundation.
Rick Girard is the Founder & CEO of Stride Search, an Orange County Recruiters and Consulting firm. Rick brings world-class leadership to firms across the nation to meet highly challenging business and talent acquisition objectives. With expertise in creative sourcing, consultative management and winning placement strategies, Rick Girard plants the hiring seeds for his partners’ success.
While not running a School for Gifted Mutants as Professor X, Rick hosts Hire Power Radio Show, a weekly series on which serves as an entrepreneur’s resource to solve the most difficult hiring challenges. When not on the air, Rick regularly gives talks and writes valuable content for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers alike. His mission: elevate and sharpen the industry standards of exclusive professional search.

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