Gamification In The Workplace: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity

What does the word ‘work’ mean to you?

Data entry? Medical appointments? Emergency services? Teaching? NASA astronaut? (OK… unlikely. But you never know.)

Whatever your place of work, ‘fun’ and ‘games’ are probably not concepts that immediately spring to mind. It’s a long-held, not-often-spoken, almost universally-accepted truth about the postmodern work/life paradigm (The Muse): free time is for fun, games, and enjoyment. Work is for labour, exertion, and effort… leading some managers to actually prohibit fun and friendships in the workplace (New York Post).

But do things need to be this way?

What If We Told You… There’s a Different Way To Work

In recent times, gamification in the workplace has skyrocketed in prominence as a genuine, workplace-friendly, productivity-boosting strategy, adopted by business leaders across industries. From a relatively modest market value of $9.1 billion in 2020, the gamification market size is projected to exceed $30 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 27.4% (Finances Online).

Picture this: employees eagerly tackling challenges, teams collaborating seamlessly, and skills evolving organically – all thanks to the captivating allure of gamification.

Gamification in the workplace allows users to step into a world where tasks become (more) play(ful), and productivity intersects with fun. In the bustling, often stifling realm of business, a powerful transformation is underway. Gone are the days of mundane routines; today, the Sliced Bread Animation team explores how infusing game-like elements into work processes is igniting a spark of workplace innovation.

A pixel art game scene showing the text 'You Win!' above an open treasure chest, with full in game lives and the score in the top corners

So What is Gamification?

“If work is not supposed to be fun, then work is supposed to be unpleasant – either boring, arduous or annoying in some other way. […] It is false and anti-business to say that work doesn’t have to be fun (or that work is somehow more “professional” when it isn’t fun).”
Forbes: It’s Not Supposed To Be Fun — That’s Why They Call It Work

At its core, gamification in the workplace is the craft of integrating game mechanics and design principles into non-game scenarios to enhance engagement, motivation, and overall performance. There’s a reason that half of all startups report utilising gamified methodologies (ResearchGate).

In this way, business leaders turn routine tasks into captivating challenges, where employees earn rewards, badges, or points, all while progressing towards set goals.

This innovative approach is built on the principles of gaming psychology, which holds that, on some level, we all possess a human desire for achievement, individual progression, and reward/recognition.

Some gamification examples? Read on:

  • Biffa realised the power of gamification to communicate principles of waste management, in a collaborative project with Sliced Bread Animation.
  • Another partnership with Sliced Bread Animation saw Coca-Cola launch a dance-based Facebook game to expand brand reach and awareness.
  • Duolingo is one of the all-time success stories of leveraging simple game mechanics to take users on a learning journey.
  • Conversely, Starbucks lean into a classic star-collection reward strategy as a way of boosting brand loyalty and driving repeat business.

Gamification in Employee Training and Onboarding

Speaking specifically on gamification in the context of the workplace, it has proven especially fruitful as a training, onboarding and developmental tool.

Gamified employee training programs introduce an element of excitement to learning, making skill development and knowledge retention an engaging journey – even for challenging subjects, such as treatment for diabetes, or corporate ESG like climate change responsibilities. By incorporating game-like mechanics such as:

  • Quizzes,
  • Timers,
  • Leaderboards,
  • Points and badges,
  • Characters, and
  • Interactive scenarios,

training becomes immersive and improves the hippocampal memory (Near Life), which “releases dopamine and sends new information into the learner’s long-term memory and promotes focus.”

In office-based situations, part of the magic of gamification lies in its ability to transform mundane tasks into captivating, engaging experiences. From data entry challenges to compliance training adventures; gamification turns these otherwise-unappealing activities into something genuinely enjoyable and rewarding, keeping employees motivated (Smartico) and invested in their tasks.

Moreover, gamification’s impact extends to onboarding new hires, where virtual office tours and simulations provide a dynamic introduction to company culture and workflows – just look at the success of Deloitte’s DLA (Deloitte Leadership Academy).

Colourful graphic showing various gamification icons and a smartphone against an orange background

The Elements of Successful Gamification

But if you think gamification is all fun and games… you’re right – at least, partly right. There are business tasks that need to be completed, after all, and it may sound obvious but making a fun game shouldn’t take precedence over task-completion.

Below, you’ll find six core elements that we find work well in gamified projects.

1. Goals and Challenges: Just like a classic video game, setting clear objectives and gradually raising the bar fuels your team’s journey. Whether it’s conquering a new level of expertise or mastering the quarterly report, achievable challenges drive motivation.

2. Difficulty Levels: The exhilaration of levelling-up is what makes difficulty levels such effective motivators. As employees conquer challenges and enhance skills, their confidence swells, and their hunger for growth ignites.

3. Collaborative Experiences: Experiences are more powerful when shared (Optimist Performance). With gamified experiences, effective teamwork can become as addictive as unlocking secret levels. Harnessing everyone’s strengths turns colleagues into allies, and the mundane into something marvellous.

4. Leaderboards: Leaderboards spark (friendly!) competition, turning laborious or unengaging tasks into a good-natured contest.

5. Rewards: In the world of gamification, rewards are the golden coins. Whether it’s virtual badges, real-world perks, a company-wide shoutout, or any other type of gamification reward, they are the XP boosting employee morale and motivation.

6. Compelling Narrative: With effective gamification, every task gains a story, transforming chores into journeys. “Good games have good backstories – galaxies at war, people who need rescue, or places that may soon be destroyed,” say Reeves and Read, Total Engagement: How Games and Virtual Worlds Are Changing the Way People Work and Businesses Compete. “Such narratives guide action and organise character roles, rewards and group action.”

Still from the video game 'Moving Out' depicting 4 characters trying to maneuver furniture out of a house

Gamification in Recruitment and Talent Management

In the rapidly evolving landscape of recruitment and talent management, the strategic integration of gamification is emerging as a pivotal transformation. Beyond the realm of passing trends, gamification is redefining the traditional approach, fundamentally altering how organisations attract, assess, and retain top-tier talent.

In other words, gamification breathes vitality into established practices.

The customary evaluation of CVs is now accompanied by immersive challenges that assess candidates’ practical skills and problem-solving acumen. PwC, for instance, created a 12-day, Facebook-based game called Multipoly. The idea was to give prospective candidates an opportunity to experience life at PwC by meeting quarterly goals and completing typical tasks, all while receiving feedback from coaches.

Ultimately, 78% of players said they wanted to work for PwC after completing the game, and 92% had a more positive perspective on the company. Multipoly also led to a dramatic boost in the number of applications.

Similarly, game-based assessments introduce a twist to pre-employment evaluations. Generally, they look a lot like a traditional ‘brain-training game’, requiring players to complete certain tasks within a set time limit. Their “interactive nature allows graduate recruiters to gather data on both candidates’ behavioural tendencies and cognitive abilities.”

Game-Time For Workplace Productivity

In the final reckoning, it seems evident that gamification in the workplace is not just a trend but a strategic shift with enduring potential. The captivating fusion of game-like elements with professional contexts heralds a new era in employee engagement, training, and productivity enhancement.

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the central benefits of gamification in the workplace – to sum up:

The Benefits of Gamification in the Workplace

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Gamification fosters teamwork and a sense of camaraderie among employees, leading to improved collaboration.
  • Increased Productivity: By introducing game-like elements, employees become more motivated to complete tasks, resulting in enhanced productivity levels.
  • Effective Training: Gamified training programs offer an engaging learning experience, leading to better skill development and knowledge retention.
  • Improved Employee Engagement: Gamification boosts employee engagement and enthusiasm towards work, reducing turnover rates.
  • Fun and Motivation: The use of game elements makes work enjoyable, motivating employees to perform at their best.
  • Efficient Recruitment Process: Gamified recruitment tools streamline the hiring process and help identify the best-fit candidates.
  • Positive Workplace Culture: Implementing gamification creates a positive and rewarding workplace culture that employees enjoy.

As industries evolve, and organisations increasingly seek innovative solutions to elevate their workforce, gamification emerges as an indispensable tool. Looking ahead, the future of gamification in the workplace holds immense promise.

Technology advances and creativity flourishes, and so we can anticipate an even more sophisticated integration of game elements into professional contexts. It’s a journey of continued innovation, where gamification will continue to shape the way we work, collaborate, and succeed.

Contact the team at Sliced Bread Animation to learn more about how gamification could transform your team’s productivity levels.

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