“It’s PLAY that helps us do serious things better.” – Jake Orlowitz
What is Gamification?
Simply put, gamification is all about using game design elements in non-game contexts. ‘Gamification’ is a term introduced in 2002 by Neil Pelling. A popular trend followed by many organisations, it finds new ways to engage employees, encourage innovation, and strengthen loyalty and strategies.
Remember when you and your friends got together for an exciting evening of board games? It was something that brought everyone together and improved on their social engagements. The way people interact in a game setting can tell you a lot about their personality, motivations and what makes them tick. The same applies to people at a workplace.
The Pros and Cons of Gamification
- An Increase in Employee Engagement – There are a lot of employees that need a little boost or nudge continually. Companies have found that this is where gamification helps. Employees engage themselves more when they know that they stand to gain something important from participating.
- Immediate Signs of Achievement and Progress – Most employees work hard and go unnoticed and unrewarded. Traditionally, an individual gets feedback on their work during the appraisal period. Gamification helps the employees receive constant feedback on their performance as they earn higher rankings or badges that garner attention from their managers.
- Allows the Best and Brightest to Shine – Gamification helps in recognising the company’s future stars/leaders. Employees and co-workers now identify the talent within each other. They have the chance to learn about leadership roles, develop management skills, and become better known within their organisations based upon their gameplay.
- Gamification is Often Ham-Fisted – When implementing gamification, many companies, at times, lay down systems, badges and leaderboards to work processes that don’t need gamification.
- Forced Play isn’t Play at All – Games, in general, should be voluntary by nature. When enforced by someone, it becomes a form of dictatorship.
- The Novelty Wears Off – At some point, most games get tiresome. A challenge for enterprise gamification designers will be to think of different and innovative ways to keep the experience fresh and engaging.
Tips to Achieve Gamification Excellence
According to Steve Murgatroyd, Digital Insight Leader (Words and Pictures), there are five top tips for creating a good, gamified workplace:
- Keep it Simple – Keep the game uncomplicated and straightforward, something that people can quickly pick up. When a game is easy to understand and play, more people will get involved.
- Start with Your End Objective – A lot of people misunderstand the use of gamification; they usually don’t think about the result. A different tool altogether can be used to achieve the outcome. Think about what your outcome should be and work backwards from there. You may end up getting the game you want or you may end up implementing a different method to achieve the results.
- Focus on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose – Gamification would work well when these three principles are applied:
Autonomy to allow people to play when they want to.
Mastery to not make the game difficult, but challenging enough that people feel a sense of accomplishment when they gain something from it.
Purpose to give the people the reason they are playing in the first place, give them the bigger picture, let them know what they’d gain from it all and how it would help their role on a day-to-day basis.
- Scores aren’t Everything – Points, badges and leaderboards can sometimes work against people in gamification. When people see a person regularly scoring well, they become demotivated and, as a result, stop contributing as they feel that they would gain nothing from it. Scores may not work for all games. In those cases, give the participants instant recognition and prestige by mentioning them in other communication channels.
- It’s the Journey, not the Destination – Finally, make the game the journey, not the result. Make it fun for people to play so that they are not constantly thinking about the goal; they end up enjoying the whole process of engagement much more.
Gamification is like a double-edged sword; it could either work for you or against you. When the common negatives are considered and game mechanics are carefully implemented, gamification can add fun, meaning and motivation to the workplace.
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