How to use gamification to engage employees

how to use gamificationMore and more organisations, both large and small, are using gamification to overcome workplace obstacles and improve the performance of the organisation. And this is turning gamification into an industry that is expected to grow to $2.8 billion in 2016, according to experts.


What is gamification?

It is a common misconception that gamification is the application of games that are created for a business purpose, but gamification is not about the mechanics of games as such, and not even about creating something new. It is the use of use of game design elements in a non-game context to unlock your employees’ and organisation’s potential.

It’s a powerful motivating tool because it links in to intrinsic motivation factors, such as:

  • Autonomy (“I control”)
  • Mastery (“I improve”)
  • Purpose (“I make a difference”)
  • Progress (“I achieve”)
  • Social Interaction (“I connect with others”)

By inspiring active participation, gamification can create engaged employees, which contributes to job satisfaction, improved productivity and performance and increased staff loyalty.


How can I use Gamification?

Gamification is often used in sales environments, but that doesn’t mean gamification is limited to sales team applications alone.

The Advanced Learning Institute identified eight ways organisations use gamification. These are:

  1. Increase employee engagement: Using the concept of a game to further engage employees in their everyday tasks.
  2. Increase morale: Gamification programmes bring productive fun into the workplace.
  3. Recruit and induct top talent: Using gamification during the induction period creates a more enthusiastic and highly engaged workforce, especially among Millenials, leading in the long run to higher productivity and retention rates.
  4. Build brand loyalty: Gamification involves employees in the business and makes them feel like they have a purpose; as a result they tell others and become ambassadors for your organisation.
  5. Create better employee training programmes: Gamifying the training process can help re-engage and re-energise employees in the learning process, for example improving product knowledge.
  6. Increase healthy workplace competition: Gamification in the workplace can be a catalyst for creating healthy competition, thereby increasing productivity and improving bottom line results.
  7. Promote and influence desired behaviours among employees: A gamification strategy can encourage employees to adopt desired behaviours that are aligned with the organisation’s values.
  8. Improve employee collaboration: Adopting gamification technology into everyday working tools increases user adoption and collaboration among colleagues.
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Making it work for you

Back in 2013, Landers suggested that by 2014, 70% of Fortune Global 2000 will use gamification, but that 80% of those efforts will fail!

A gamified application must offer a worthwhile experience that appeals to users; otherwise, people are simply not going to use it. It has to be so much more than just adding a flashy game to a website or the staff intranet.

gamificationIt’s important that the element of competition that gamification provides is a healthy, fun one and not so serious that it ends up demotivating employees. For example, leaderboards can demotivate other employees if they only ever reward the individual occupying the top spot.

It’s also important to keep the game alive by occasionally introducing new challenges or mixing things up. We can easily fall into a comfortable routine, and if you become complacent with your scheme you risk participation levels falling and employee engagement levels stagnating.

You also need to consider the rewards. Some organisations offer tangible rewards, but too much focus on high-end rewards can send the wrong message about why people should be motivated to do a good job, and it shifts the focus from intrinsic motivation to extrinsic motivation. It is far better to enthuse employees with peer recognition and utilise more regular, lower-value rewards, such as gift cards or vouchers as random spot prizes.


When planning the implementation of a motivational initiative, it is important to make sure there are clear objectives, and when using gamification that the results can be measured. Done in the right way, gamification can have a huge impact on the success of a motivation programme and ultimately the success of your business.


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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