How to make gamification work for you

gamificationOne of the biggest emerging trends in employee motivation is “gamification”. Gamification uses of elements of game play in non-game contexts to boost employee engagement, in other words, work functions are turned into games and these games also reward active participants.

Gamification originally started as far back as ancient Egypt when people made up games to alleviate the drudgery of work. They were simple games such as who could produce the most things in a given time. Shift to the modern day – through the time period where management tolerated their employees’ games but considered them a waste of time – and advances in video games technology and social media techniques have contributed to the emerging trend.

Reward and recognition, using gamification techniques, can have a positive impact on several business areas:


1. Improve product knowledge

Gamification can be used to improve employees’ product knowledge through interactivity. Games that are introduced once a training course has been completed, interactive quizzes or offering employees the chance to take part in a game once they have read product documentation.

2. Drive employee performance

Gamification can be used to drive employees to perform certain actions, such as hit a sales or customer service target. By setting incremental targets that are achievable for the individual and personalising the website with suitable communications, rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach, organisations can engage employees at all levels, not just top performers.

3. Drive people to complete an action

Gamification can be used to encourage users to complete a certain action by rewarding them with game plays for completing that action.

4. Improve internal communications

Gamification can be used to drive employees to a website, to look at company communications for example. Users can be rewarded for simply reading particular pages or visiting the area of the site that managers feel is a real relevance to that individual. Winners of a prize draw can be announced each month via the site, thereby expanding on the opportunities to encourage users to visit.


Making it work for you

Gasification isn’t just about having fun at work. It needs to contribute to the achievement of goals and profits if it is going to be a serious contender in employee motivation tools.

Here are some tips on how to make gamification work for you:


1. Involve your employees

Gamification works at its best when employees support the game’s purpose, which is why it’s important to involve your employees in designing and implementing the game. After all it’s their roles that you are trying to make more fun, not yours.

mobile technology2. Use technology

It’s the improvement in video game and social media technology that has contributed to gamification emerging as a key employee motivation tool so use this to your advantage. Interaction with the game through technology allows employees to share their achievements, encourage friendly competition and improve engagement.

3. Consider the motivation

Gamification shouldn’t be implemented in a shallow way, and it shouldn’t incentivise your employees to play the game over the quality of the work. For example, the meltdown in the US with the financial crisis was partly caused by employees were getting bonuses based on the number of loans they approved, and not whether those loans could be repaid.

4. You can’t force fun

We’re all individual and we all have different ideas of fun, so don’t force participation because it may not fit with an individual’s idea of fun. If your employees buy-in to the game then you will reap all the positive benefits associated with gamification, but forcing participation will have the opposite effect and could potentially reduce motivation.


Gamification only works if you engage employees by involving them in its design and implementation. And participating in the games shouldn’t be compulsory, you’ll achieve a much better result if participation is encouraged but not imposed. And remember gamification is just one tool in your motivational toolkit so don’t ignore the others.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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