Employees playing games during work hours, while claiming it improves their job performance. It’s a hard concept to grasp, especially for small business owners, but many learning and development professionals are praising the use of gamification in business, and the reasons why may surprise you.
Gamification takes game techniques we know and love – missions, points, badges and leaderboards – and incorporates those techniques into work environments as a way to engage and motivate people. Adding gamification inspires employees by tapping into what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates all people – earning progress, having purpose and driving towards mastery.
What is Gamification in Business and How Does it Work?
So, what is gamification?
It’s the integration of interactive game playing into everyday business tasks, such as through quizzes, multiple choice questions, or virtual role play.
80% of learners agreed that learning would be more productive if it were game-orientated. But despite the continual emphasis employers have on delivering effective employee training, according to HR Dive, only 12% of employees felt they actually applied their skills training to their jobs.
So we’ve covered a general overview of what Gamification is and what its purpose is, now let’s take a look under the hood at the structures and details that make for a strong Gamification structure.
Gamification apps and services have been around for many years, but began truly making waves in business in the early 2010s. Many companies have leveraged the strategy of incorporating gamification in business as a solution to boost the effectiveness of their employee training, sales enablement, onboarding and learning management. According to a study carried out by Newzoo, it is expected that during 2021 the gamification market will generate more than 180 billion Euros with a 100% growth. What is the reason for this rapid growth?
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has caused many industries to deal with their audiences from a distance and the urgent need for having the right tools to reach both their employees and customers.
First of all, let’s look at some statistics:
- 95% of employees enjoy using gaming-inspired elements in their work (by review42.com).
- In 2021, the education gamification market is estimated to reach $11.94 billion. (by statista.com).
- Gamification participants score 14% higher skill-based assessments (by review42.com).
- 83% of employees who undergo gamified training are more motivated at work (by TalentMLS).
- Using gamification may increase newly registered business users by 600% (by review42.com).
If you’re feeling like Gamification is a little too gimmicky for your taste, if you’re wondering who really utilises gamification anyway, well, it turns out that almost everyone does in fact utilise gamification to some varying degree. This goes beyond startups though, with many reputable companies have researched and acknowledged the potential behind gamification, brands such as McDonalds, Uber, Nike, Duolingo etc.
Gamification is built upon Game Mechanics, which is proven to motivate and engage users. Whilst a sole reliance upon Game Mechanics is not enough to ensure a fully engaging experience, they are paramount within an initiative, if it’s to be seen as Gamification at all.
Using any combination of the following game mechanics, sets a precedent for a successful gamification initiative, 10 prime examples of Game Mechanics are as follows:
1. Meaning & Purpose
Some people just need to understand the meaning or the purpose of what they are doing. For others they need to feel they are part of something greater than themselves. Whether you have a full-scale story or just a simple notification before beginning a Gamified initiative, that can be the difference between a task being a chore or an experience.
One of the best ways to motivate a user into giving the task at hand all that they’ve got, is to show them how they compare to others, as an individual or in a team. The use of time-based, team and individualised leaderboards helps users see where they rank amongst others.
3. Loss Aversion
No one likes to lose things. Fear of losing status, friends, points, achievements, possessions, progress, and so on, can be a powerful reason for people to maintain and move ahead with a task.
Think of it this way. What motivates you more, earning $5 or not losing $5? Did you feel that instinctual need to check your pockets? It’s funny how having something within your possession, gives you an unspoken responsibility to care for it.
Progress and feedback come in many different forms for many different user types, particularly as they all need some sort of measure of progress or feedback, however, some types work better than others. A few examples include, on screen notifications, text messages, word of mouth or emails. Feedback can be used to congratulate a user for reaching a goal, encourage the next step to a milestone or promote a new reward.
An indicator of accomplishment or mastery of a skill is especially meaningful within a community that understands its value. Badges are often used to identify skills and expertise within a group.
Once the participants have accumulated a certain number of points, they may be awarded badges. Badges are a form of virtual achievement for the participants. They provide positive reinforcement for the targeted behaviour. Unlike Leaderboards, that are consistently updated, badges are awarded to individuals as a landmark of their own personal achievements. A physical reminder of what one has accomplished, badges address the motivational driver of collection and achievement.
If Badges are landmarks in accomplishment, then Points are the pathway unto those landmarks. Points are tangible, measurable evidence of accomplishment.
Points help participants monitor their progress, both by keeping score and establishing status. Points are awarded for completing activities, sharing, or contributing.
7. Levelling Up
Creating tiers of achievement, helps build an overall sense of where a participant sits within a line of progression. By having levels in place, you’ve created an indicator of long-term or sustained achievement for participants in an initiative. Levels indicate that an individual has reached a point of achievement and progression that has elevated them into a more advanced ring of goals and objectives they are now deemed capable of achieving.
Levelling up is used to identify status within a community and to unlock new objectives, badges, activities, and rewards.
Goals are the objectives that points, badges and challenges all stem from. The direction of the narrative will lead participants to pursue these goals and, as a result, unlock rewards and recognition.
Missions or challenges give users a purpose for interaction, and educate users about what is valued and possible within the experience. Goals are a powerful Game Mechanic to motivate people to action. If the narrative gives a sense of purpose, then goals give a sense of direction.
Goals are most effective when they lead individuals to believe they are working to achieve something great, something awe-inspiring, and something bigger than themselves.
9. Social Network
When you think of Game Mechanics, and just games in general, you think of the social aspect that comes with engaging in an activity. Having a community within a Gamified initiative is where it will derive its meaning for goals, badges, competitions, and other mechanics. We are social beings and relationships have a powerful effect on how we feel and what we do.
Challenges help keep people interested – just when participants may feel like they have mastered all that there is to master, and interest begins to drop off, that is when you test their knowledge and provoke them into applying it. Overcoming challenges will make people feel they have earned their achievement.
Goal of Gamification
The generic goal of gamification is to promote the active interest of users, their engagement, to modify their behaviors.
For these reasons, a gamification strategy can be considered “successful” if it can mark in an effective way on the recipient’s habits and behavioral performances.
You’ll know you’ve done a good job with gamification when you made positive changes in people’s behavior and attitude towards learning, improving their motivation and engagement.
This article was written by Đorđe Stojanović, a project management intern @ RCMT IT Europe