How Gamification Can Revolutionize Work Culture

And upskill your teams



October 27, 2023

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If I’m being honest, I first heard about the terms “gamification” & “to gamify” only a couple of years ago. I somehow always felt like it was a ‘techie’ concept, so never really bothered to look into it because it didn’t seem that interesting. Now that I know what it is, I realise that it’s a concept used in so many aspects around us! It’s incredibly interesting, especially to the millennial workforce & can be used in monumental ways to help enhance things like productivity & employee engagement within organizations, especially now that almost everything is on a virtual & offline platform.

What is Gamification?

According to Deterding, Khaled, Nacke & Dixon (2011), gamification can be defined as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts”. It’s a method used by the best organisations & companies to motivate their employees by targeting their competitive sides.

In his research, Brian Sutton - Smith, a play theorist, found that the opposite of the concept ‘play’ was not ‘work’ but was in fact ‘depression’. This shows us that if we are not doing something fun, or something that makes us happy, we tend to become sad, leading to things like demotivation & depression. You know that saying “do a job you love & you’ll never work a day in your life”? One of the ways you can promote that at work is through gamification.

Play + Work = Gamification

As the definition states, gamification brings into the workspace aspects of gaming like having a leader, a scoreboard, spaces to comment/get feedback about your progress, & most importantly, rewards. It strives to tap into every individual’s competitive side to work better than they normally do to get the perks this process dictates. It’s worth noting that this shouldn’t completely take away from the process of working & make it an all-work-&-no-play situation. Rather, it needs to enhance the working by adding elements of fun into it.

Why is gamification important in a hybrid workspace?

In her Ted Talk, author of the infamous book ‘Gamification at Work’ Janaki Kumar mentioned the Gallup Employee Engagement Survey of 2013 which came up with some startling statistics.

The study showed that only 13% of employees felt engaged at their workplace, whilst 63% of them were actively disengaged. The graph in itself only proves that the majority of the employees were not engaged in the work they do, which does not boast of efficient work culture.

Gamification aims to reduce this by increasing engagement in organisations to a large extent. The hope is to get more employees involved in activities, meeting goals & interacting with each other to increase not only the efficiency in the workspace but to also improve the overall quality of the workspace atmosphere itself. When individuals work remotely, the chances of them becoming bored with the monotony of work is extremely high. Gamification reduces this monotony by adding surprising and exciting elements at work for people of all ages.

The perks of gamifying your hybrid workspace are :

  • To increase interaction amongst employees
  • To create a space for healthy competition to meet goals & exceed expectations
  • To provide a space where feedback is not only appreciated but encouraged
  • To  enhance feelings of motivation in the employees

So by now, we know what gamification is & how gamification can enhance any organisations’s workspace. Let us dive into how organisations can gamify their setup in an exciting manner.

How to gamify well

It is firstly, very important to acknowledge that gamification will not suit every kind of workspace. Get a feel of the different types of employees you have working for you, how their work personalities are, & then decide whether gamification is meant for your workspace.

1. Provide motivation (extrinsic & intrinsic)

Readers, I think you’d agree with me when I say motivation makes you work harder. This can be both extrinsic (external) & intrinsic (internal), both driving you to be better. Examples of these are :

Extrinsic Motivators:

  • Provide bonuses & salary hikes for reaching goals ahead of/on time
  • Freebies/gifts for top performers
  • Being able to hear positive feedback from your peers & customers
  • Boasting rights for employees at the top of the leaderboard
  • Have a physical representation of your progress

Intrinsic Motivators:

  • The need to be the best amongst your peers
  • Having proper proof/validation of your hardwork
  • If you are competitive by nature, the need to win is motivation enough
  • Removing/reducing feelings of self-doubt about the quality of your work
  • Improving your sense of worth

Tip : Organisations can come out with a leaderboard/list which is updated monthly which mentions top performers of that month. Providing attractive incentives like extra days off, a small getaway etc. for completing a task the best is always ALWAYS going to work.

2. Try focusing on completing non-work related tasks as well

Now that work is mostly WFH or at coworking spaces, employees spend the majority of their days staring at different screens, whether it’s their phones, laptops or tablets. By encouraging them to take part in activities involving fitness, learning new skills, or even logging in to work at coworking spaces (to encourage socialisation & get out of home) in exchange for points or rewards, employees will soon realise that this benefits their health as well as adding points under their names.

Organisations can incentivise additional learning to employees by rewarding the completion of online learning material. Offering to pay for these workshops makes employees more willing to do it as well as this is a reward in itself. Having hybrid learning (online components for theory & offline components for practicals) gives your employees the opportunity go out of their comfort zones, meet people & focus on professional & personal development. What’s not to love?

Tip : Organise outdoor team activities which focus on getting employees of all ages to interact and work together to reach common goals.

3. Encourage feedback from peers & consumers

When an organisation is gamified, one of the aspects that are brought to light are feedback. Organisations can develop a forum where individuals can hear from their peers & even listen to/read reviews from their customers. This is a huge incentive for employees to do better because feedback shows you where you’re going wrong, how you can improve & how well you’re doing already. Positive feedback is a huge motivator & pushes employees to do their best.

Tip : Display an anonymous review board at work or virtually where employees can read about their work and can comment on the work of others.

4. Recognise employees going beyond their job description

One of the results of gamification is having employees who go beyond their ordinary job roles & achieve more goals than they are bound to do contractually, so they get rewarded - materially or otherwise. This is good because employees can find more things they are interested in at work, & receive incentives at the same time. The recognition also allows other employees to better understand why this individual is being rewarded or considered for better roles, & what is expected of them to get the same prioritization.

Tip : Starting off meetings by applauding the success of certain team members can be a positive way to begin meetings and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Get ready; get gaming!

Now that you have a better understanding of how gamification works, include it into your company’s workplan. It makes working fun, exciting & employees are sure to gain a lot from the experience. Allow for interaction, whether it’s having a virtual/physical game night or icebreakers before meetings. Get ready to see the change it brings to how employees look at their workplace.

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