Business Operations Human Resources Small Business

Gamification: It Isn’t Just For Customers

Gamification has gained traction in marketing over the past several years, providing businesses with a powerful customer engagement tool. More recently, though, we’ve seen an increase in the use of gamification on the employee side, including in HR trainings and daily operations. With such extensive use, it’s no surprise that experts expect the market to grow to $11.10 billion USD by 2020.

What does gamification look like on the operations side of business? A natural extension of its current uses in marketing, gamification focuses on getting people to perform tasks they may not ordinarily be motivated to do – and your business can make it work to your advantage.

Completion And Competition

One of the primary advantages of using gamification in daily business operations is that it can help defeat procrastination and increase productivity. That’s because, instead of simply providing a list of tasks, gamification transforms to-do lists into a sequence of challenge and reward. Employees are set a task with clear aims, but they also can see what lies ahead if they complete that task. The reward may be as simple as a profile badge or in-house ranking, but the pairing of competition and completion can push employees to be their best.

When first testing out in-house gamification, many companies are skeptical that such abstract rewards really work, but major apps have proven the power of competition. Duotrope, a popular language learning app, for example, challenges users to play more by ranking them based on points, while Fitbit has mastered the use of participation badges. In studies, these basic motivational tools produced a 150% increase in engagement.

Obviously your employees should already be completing tasks, but by introducing elements of gamification into the process, your business should expect to see increased speed of completion as well as greater enthusiasm and employee satisfaction. Work just becomes more fun.

Mastery Over Multitasking

Despite what most of us believe, multitasking is the enemy of productivity. Rather than helping you get more done, trying to do several different tasks simultaneously increases the likelihood of errors and also decreases creativity. Luckily, from an in-house perspective, gamification can help reduce multitasking by providing incentives for employees to stay on task.

Take the popular app, Forest, as an example. Forest is designed to decrease distraction and user dependency on phones by encouraging users to stop using apps for a set period of time. While the Forest app is running, the user is actively growing a digital tree and if they navigate away before the timer is up, it kills the tree.

More recently, Forest has introduced a way for groups to grow these digital trees together. Companies might encourage employees to use Forest collaboratively during meetings or while working on projects, or develop a similar in-house program to encourage focus.

Transform Training

Most employees consider on-boarding and digital training programs to be among the most boring activities they might engage in – and that means most will skip around or not pay attention while completing the tasks. Gamification can help transform the employee training process, making it both more rigorous and more enjoyable at the same time.

How do you gamify a process like training? Rather than requiring employees to complete the process in one sitting, consider developing a gamified platform that tracks individual completion status. If users are actively rewarded, even in minor ways, and if they have the ability to break down arduous and dull tasks into smaller steps, they’re more likely to complete those activities in a timely fashion.

Creating A Positive Culture

Finally, just as startups have a certain culture associated with them – youth-oriented workplaces with physical games, snacks, and flexible work schedules – gamification can help your company develop a cohesive and positive culture that makes employees excited to come to work. One study even showed that 79% of employees said they would be more productive if work was more like a game. Managers and trainers have also seen an increase in employee knowledge and retention when they’re trained using a game-like system.

With this in mind, companies should make gamification a priority, whether it’s a simple ranking system tracking customer onboard success or a more complex set of team missions. By rewarding outstanding employees rather than punishing those at the bottom of the rankings, companies consistently see better performance overall. The fact is, rewards are more motivating than punishments, no matter the circumstances.

We tend to believe that as mature adults, we shouldn’t have to be entertained in order to complete our responsibilities, but we also call it work for a reason – under normal circumstances, showing up for a job isn’t fun. But why shouldn’t it be? When employers shift towards gamification, everyone wins.