Around 40% of the world’s population are already active gamers, a figure of just over 3 billion. Video games are without a doubt incredibly popular, and when they reportedly make people happier, more confident, and better at problem-solving, it’s no wonder they’ve found themselves in HR’s tool kit.
The benefits of gamification in the workplace are well-proven, being shown to nearly double workplace productivity, but how can you implement such ideas successfully?
From the perspective of a gamer who also co-founded a company, the best thing to remember is that gamification is about more than just playing games in the workplace. It’s about helping teams embrace gamification and infusing it into company culture without it becoming toxic.
So let’s explore what companies can do to maximize their investment in workplace gamification.
Think inclusively to make connections with workplace gamification
Workplace gamification could be the match to help the spark connection at work that two-thirds of employees say they are looking for. However, the type of company or team you have will have a huge influence on what gamification elements might work best.
Just as there are different styles for learning, it’s vital to recognize that not everyone will like—or be good at—playing the same game. Think about the different preferences of people who play Call of Duty vs. those that play Sims. Ensuring a variety of challenges and game styles are available gives everyone a chance to excel.
For example, a smoothie company may use gamification in a variety of ways. They may develop a software game for their employees to learn about smoothie making and practice exercising customer policy. The company could designate space within the office for staff to play and practice, creating a place able to cater for a variety of needs and for people to learn solo or together depending on the training goal.
Extending gamification beyond your team could happen with a company-wide or company-to-company sports match, like soccer or rounders. Networking events can often involve heavy alcohol drinking or indulgent dinners, sports activities can be a healthier, more inclusive, and cost-effective alternative that takes advantage of the competitive element to build team spirit at the same time.
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Apply game mechanics for further integration
Taking cues from video games with employee leaderboards and challenges is an excellent start when it comes to initiating your workplace into gamification—and unlocking its benefits. When 83% of employees say they feel motivated to work harder when they receive recognition for their work, using something as simple as a leaderboard can be incredibly effective for productivity. More developed programs could also include levels, progress bars, and even virtual currency that could be gifted or traded.
A sales team might be more results focused with bigger prizes at stake, while a creative team might be better served by less intense competition where they could exercise ideas without consequence. Equally, if you’re looking to encourage more idea generation in your sales team or a more competitive mindset in your creative team, switching up competition styles is another good way to keep things interesting. It also gives you more chances to ensure employees engage and stay motivated.
As a gamer, I’m most engaged when working on improving my score or making it to the next level. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that employee retention rates improve anywhere between 30–50% at companies that invest in training programs that offers continuous professional development. Whether for work or play, people are usually keen for self-improvement and gamification works best when it taps into the psychology of gaming.
Returning to the example of the smoothie company, a designated gaming space is a great way to build gamification into the core of your business. In addition to providing a physical space for training, it can also host leaderboards, badges, or any other visual game mechanics you’ve chosen to apply.
Referring back to the competitions with visual reminders is a good way to keep up employee motivation.
Implementing mechanics such as rewards and feedback systems will further cement gamification into your workplace and help build it into company culture. By changing the language used at work, employees will have a deeper connection to the game and are more likely to embrace adoption.
Put employee health first
Well-positioned seating arrangements are also vital for ensuring workers don’t end up with any of the top five gaming injuries that include, amongst others, neck pain, back pain, and eye strains. When 7.5% of the entire world’s population is already suffering from lower back pain, it’s important your workplace creates an ergonomic set-up that doesn’t contribute any further to existing injuries—or create new ones.
It’s important to put employee mental and physical health first. As well as an ergonomic set, gamification in the workplace should only encourage competition as long as it remains healthy and fun. Too much can lead to staff becoming overly competitive and potentially toxic.
If you are integrating gamification into your workplace beyond training software, starting small with relatively low stakes is great for getting projects off the ground. For example, a competition for naming a new project is an excellent way to encourage healthy competition with a collaborative mindset and have everyone feel invested in the new project.
Prizes will depend on your budget but could range from a sponsored spa trip or a smartwatch or table to something as simple as a free lunch. Knowing competitions will be short-term and will not result in job loss is a way to keep the pressure off and allow those involved to have fun with it.
Companies can successfully implement gamification to drive engagement, motivation, and collaboration among employees.
However, it requires careful consideration and strategy.
Having the right equipment in place and using game mechanics to further integrate gamification to help increase effectiveness and maximize value—all while keeping things healthy and fun!