Gamification is the application of game design principles to situations that generally aren’t classified as a game. The outcome is to boost motivation by increasing the benefit of performing a particular action.
In other words, gamification intends to use game practices as a means of boosting motivation in a number of situations; and it can be applied to business too. Gamification takes ideas such as fun, enjoyment, transparency and challenge, then applies concepts that we’re all too fond of such as experience points, leaderboards and milestones as a means of boosting performance.
We’ve all seen gamification applied to the real world. The popular iOS game entitled Flight Control was a number one bestseller on the App Store in 19 countries simultaneously, taking the fourth most stressful job (air traffic controller) and making it enjoyable. They applied ideas such as badges, leaderboards and challenges as a means of driving motivation. The result? Flight Control still holds the title of highest downloaded paid application in history, with 3.8 million copies sold worldwide. While on the topic of airlines, frequent flyer systems (such as those offered by Qantas and Virgin) use points and challenges as a means of driving people towards purchasing premium tickets with it now becoming a key selling point. Below is an excerpt demonstrating the offerings between different selling points of various flights (check out the first two rows on this comparison table from Qantas).
While this may seem to be heavily ingrained in our society, the first documented use of the term only dates back to 2008. It was in 2010 that industry players popularised it, starting to use it as a core part of their marketing and sales strategies. However, It isn’t just practical as a means of driving marketing and sales, but also productivity within the workplace.
How does gamification contribute to the workplace?
Gamification is used in the workplace to boost employee satisfaction and productivity. While this may seem unnecessary, Gallup’s 2016 State of Global Workplace study provided insight into staff innovation, identifying that 84% of Australians are either not engaged nor enthusiastic about innovating at work. Badgeville (a California based leader in gamification, before being acquired by SAP) conducted an independent survey amongst their own team. They identified a 90% increase in team productivity since incorporating a gamified onboarding strategy. If that isn’t enough, a study executed by Aberdeen Group demonstrated that when a new team member experiences a positive and engaging onboarding process, they’re 69% more likely to stay with the company for at least three years. People want more than just a paycheck and place of work, they want to be more involved and to feel a sense of purpose.
The results are staggering, and certainly enough to drive an interest in incorporating these elements into your own team. This isn’t just limited to the onboarding process. By implementing ideas such as leaderboards, challenges, competition and milestones, businesses have noticed an increase of productivity, motivation, creativity, team dynamic and skill.
Techniques for Implementing Gamification in Business
Below are some simple techniques you can use to implement gamification in business.
During the onboarding process, gamification can be used to improve engagement between a new team member and the business. A gamified onboarding process creates:
- Alignment of business goals with the goals of your new team member.
- Increased engagement and retention as a result.
- Improved productivity and performance.
- Consistent, measurable results from your team.
Alignment of business goals with team member goals is invaluable. Where a business is interested in achieving high productivity, and a team member is interested in learning more and feeling accomplished, gamification can act as the mutual key performance indicator that mutually drives both interests.
Points are generally the tool used as a ranking criteria within leaderboards. While fairly intuitive, it’s important to design a gamification strategy that enables your team to gain points on a regular basis, with real time classification of points being a huge driver of gamification adoption. Points are used across leaderboards, milestones, challenges and rewards.
A leaderboard is a mechanism used to provide transparency and drive competitiveness in gamification. The presence of a leaderboard alone can elicit the desire for interaction. Rising up the ranks, which is demonstrated by the leaderboard, increases competitiveness within a team environment. It also tends to spawn more frequent communication between team members who share ideas and creativity to mutually benefit and rank up. This mentality, if implemented correctly with other gamification techniques, is a huge driver of productivity and innovation in the workplace.
Milestones are benchmarks or “levels” that team members can work towards. We’ve all played games where earning points builds towards a “level up” or milestone. We see this implemented by organisations such as airlines, who use milestones to encourage their customers to buy more expensive flights (or fly more often) to earn “status points” each year. This gamification strategy can be used to boost engagement and productivity, particularly if combined with a time limit mechanism as we see with airlines.
Challenges can be used to boost skills in new areas. Two tools to implement this methodology are:
- Badges: These allow team members to become recognised for specialisation within a particular field. Badges are generally earned by completing a a number of quests within this field.
- Quests: These generally relate to business level tasks, which can be assigned to a particular skill set encouraging people to become specialised by earning a badge.
Challenges are a great mechanism to encourage people to boost skills in new areas, or to specialise in a particular field. Displaying this within a leaderboard also enables team members to become recognised in their teams as being an expert in a particular field.
Rewards are generally a link between an “in game” success and a real life benefit. While you will have other challenges or milestones for your team to work towards, rewards can be used as a mechanism to enable team members to benefit external to the game. Examples of real life benefits (or rewards) could be movie tickets, a free dinner or a voucher. These enable your team to “cash out”, whilst providing managers with a quantitative method of rewarding performance in the workplace.
In summary, gamification is an impeccable strategy for boosting team engagement and productivity. Station Five has developed a tool to implement gamification internally, which we’re open to sharing with others if this could benefit your team. Please get in touch with us should you have any questions, or if you’d like to explore these techniques further.