How Gamification Can Benefit Your Workplace

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy.
In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.” –
Jane McGonigal, author, researcher, designer

By now, gamification has to be the corporate world’s worst-kept secret. As a tool for employee motivation, the potential presented by gamification strategies are simply unparalleled.

The notion of gamified employee engagement may be modern, but it is not a fad, and its relevance is growing all the time. 89% of employees reported that gamification improves their productivity levels, and 88% stated that it makes them feel happier at work (Talent LMS). Similarly, learners who were given the option to explore challenge-based gamification were able to improve performance by almost 90%, compared to those who received only classroom-style training (ScienceDirect).

Whatever your sector; productivity, efficiency and employee engagement are surely high-priority items. The quickest, best way to raise the levels and achieve your core business objectives is by increasing employee motivation – and the best way to do that, is through the implementation of gamification strategies.

If you’re interested in learning more about how gamification can take your organisation’s performance to the next level, or you’d like to discuss your project ideas, get in touch with us here at Sliced Bread Animation. Otherwise, read on as we explore gamification to motivate employees in more detail.

What is gamification?

Let’s take things right from the top: first of all, what exactly is gamification?

Essentially, gamification means adding video, board or other gameplay mechanics and elements to a process, such as a task or educational course. In the words of Investopedia, “gamification describes the incentivization of people’s engagement in non-game contexts and activities by using game-style mechanics” (Investopedia).

Some examples of business gamification might include:

  • Game-based learning and training
  • Interactive performance leaderboards
  • Rewards, incentives and prizes
  • Skills development progress bars
  • Badges, trophies and achievements

In terms of the workplace, employee gamification is a sure-fire way of improving staff retention – let’s face it, which employees wouldn’t stick with a company that took the time to invest in fun, rewarding, engaging experiences?

Following the implementation of gamification strategies and game-based learning, motivation among the workforce sees a sharp rise, and task engagement is also impacted in a positive way.

Moreover, there’s the intangible truth that employees who are able to enjoy fun and engaging experiences intrinsically feel more closely-associated, or affiliated, with the company. As a result, companies are able to reap the tangential rewards of increased brand loyalty among internal staff.

Benefits of gamification

The benefits of gamification include – but are not limited to – an increase in employee engagement, changes in your company culture, improved organisational processes, better resource alignment and logistics, to name just a few.

Speaking purely in objective terms, gamification performs its core function – that is, the successful transmission of information – far more effectively than other communication methods. Whether you want to upskill employees, onboard new staff members, or manifest administrative updates, skill and information retention improves markedly with workplace gamification.

On a similar yet simpler note, games are… well, games are fun! Who doesn’t want to have an enjoyable, engaging time at work, where possible? Obviously, there are limits – you don’t want your entire workforce huddled around the NES, deep into a Mario Kart session – but where you can make ‘work’ more ‘fun’, you should.

Individual employees will also gain some de-stressing benefits; this can contribute to a more positive workplace environment and increased productivity. And, don’t forget: a gamified workplace carries a strong appeal for millennial and Gen Z employees. So if you’re looking to build a modern, forward-facing organisation, intranet gamification or gamified experiences are a good place to start.

Gamification benefit and how it helps your organisation:

  • Employee motivation – Your workforce feels more motivated to complete tasks when they engage with game mechanics
  • Information retention – Information or skills communicated through gamification are absorbed faster and more effectively
  • Employee engagement – Employees are more conscientious and mindful of work when they find it mentally stimulating
  • Improved atmosphere – Gamification can help contribute to a happy and healthy workplace environment
  • Company culture – As one of the hallmarks of ‘modern’ corporations, gamification helps foster an image of innovativeness
  • A younger workforce – Millenial and Gen Z candidates are attracted to companies that are exciting and contemporary
An interactive game interface set in a cartoon-style forest background. There are four boxes labeled 'Trust', 'Reputation', 'Business', and 'Patient', each numbered from 1 to 4. Below the boxes is an instruction panel with a character holding a telescope and a prompt asking the user to drag the Four Priorities into the correct order. A blue button labeled 'Check answer' is at the bottom of the panel.

How companies use gamification to motivate employees

In theory, there are countless ways you could roll out gamification in your organisation; the only limits are your imagination. You’d be hard-pushed to find a process or task that wouldn’t benefit from some form of gamification to motivate employees.

Below, we’ve gathered a few of the most popular ways companies use gamification to motivate employees.

Training, upskilling and education
Sooner or later, it’s inevitable that you’ll want to train your employees in something new.

Whether it’s an improved process, a new piece of software or machinery, new health and safety protocols or an administrative refresher: the process of teaching and learning happens more effectively when it is engineered to simulate a game.

Likewise, game-based learning represents a tremendously efficient opportunity to improve the skills and knowledge your employees already have.

Increasing employee engagement

It’s been proven that highly-engaged employees show 21% or more greater profitability, while disengaged staff cost US companies $850 billion (£693 billion) every year (Forbes).

Far from some abstract notion of ‘wellness in the workplace,’ employee engagement is a concrete and potent force that can dramatically change the success levels of your business.

Using gamification to motivate employees results in a workforce who actually care about work. They feel good about being treated as a human by the company and, as such, reciprocate that good faith by performing their best efforts on a daily basis. Win-win.

Cultivating the culture that workplace gamification brings

We’ve touched on this previously, but it bears repeating. Gamification is a hallmark, a stamp of authenticity, of forward-facing, ‘future-proof’ companies.

Clearly, it’s advantageous for your organisation to be perceived as modern, contemporary, and innovative – certainly, that’s preferable to creating the image of a fusty, antiquated relic powered by inefficient legacy processes.

So using gamification to motivate employees helps to foster that image of being at the cutting edge of the business world. It’s something you can shout about and point to, in discussions with hiring candidates, customers or existing staff, and say ‘this is a good place to be.’

A 'Game Summary' screen from an educational game about risk assessment. The main text at the top reads 'WHAT YOU JUST DID WAS A KIND OF RISK ASSESSMENT.' It instructs the user to click on images to learn about the four ways risk was assessed during the game.

Why gamification in the workplace works

There is one, overarching truth about humans that means gamification to motivate employees works so well: namely, because people like fun!

As long as there have been humans, we’ve found novel and original ways of engaging with our environment – and with each other – for the primary purpose of entertainment.

There’s more to it, though. Games represent a powerful learning opportunity, and chance for socialisation.

Examples abound throughout ages and cultures: the ancient Chinese board game go (and chess, for that matter) teach players strategy and tactics; the prehistoric game of knucklebones gave early homo sapiens the chance to practise coordinated dexterity and develop relationships; and the board game Pandemic allows modern players to simulate an all-too familiar global health event, exploring the tensions and trials in a risk-free scenario.

As Sam Von Ehren of The New York Times puts it: “Digital games take many of the powers of traditional analog games and ramp up both the rate of interaction and the complexity of the underlying systems. A digital game takes input from the player 60 times per second, resolves it with a potentially very complicated rule set, and renders a new image of the game state. This rapid feedback loop engages our proprioception, that is our sense of embodiment and physicality.”

In other words, gamification in employee engagement is so effective because it is a way of tapping-in to a kind of ‘hyper-stimulation.’ With such an exciting, engaging and absorbing challenge placed before us, in the shape of a game, increased motivation is a natural consequence.

Case study: Coca-Cola and The Neverending Dance of Happiness

The proof of all this is, of course, in the pudding; so what better place to start than with one of our own game-based learning and engagement creations.

In partnership with Coca-Cola, we built a fully-customisable online dance game to function within Facebook.The Neverending Dance of Happiness was available in 11 localised languages, built on an Oracle database, and adhered to Coca-Cola’s high-level safety and security requirements.

Though the game was intended for consumers and not employees, its successes in creating engagement and motivation among users truly speaks for itself.

The Neverending Dance of Happiness attracted almost half a million users within its first few weeks of going live, and allowed Coca-Cola to engage with a young audience in an exciting and entirely fresh way.

Harnessing gamification to motivate employees

Whether you’re considering rolling-out game-based learning, gamified task improvement, process development, cultural refinement or any of the (many) applications of workplace gamification, the results can be genuinely breathtaking.

As well as increasing motivation and improving employee engagement, gamification is set to continue its trajectory of revolutionising the workplace; redefining what ‘tasks’ and ‘processes’ actually look like, and reimagining the relationship staff have with their workload.

The time to implement gamification strategies is now. To discuss your next project, explore some ideas or just chat about some inspiration for your organisation, contact Sliced Bread Animation today. Get in touch online or reach out on +44 (0)207 148 0526.

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