3 ways organizations use gamification to engage staff

As Mary Poppins said, ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.’ If you can find it, employees will work harder and better—and enjoy themselves in the process.

Fewer than one-third of U.S. workers are engaged at work. Instead of coming to the office bursting with energy, many arrive dreading countless emails and meeting-packed afternoons.

How do organizations reengage employees and increase productivity?

Gamification might be the answer.

Game-based motivation—including competitions, performance rewards and status recognition—not only engages employees, but also makes them more productive. According to an independent survey by Badgeville , gamification increases productivity for 90 percent of workers and, for 86 percent of workers, boosts awareness of co-workers’ goals and tasks.

Survey respondents (500 workers ranging from entry-level employees to top-tier executives) said the top benefits of gamification are:

  • An increased desire to be at work and engaged (30 percent)
  • Inspiration to be more productive at work (27 percent)
  • The focus to stay on task and avoid distraction (20 percent)

In addition to increasing workforce productivity, gamification can successfully motivate employees and boost morale. Not surprising, millennials—who will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030—expect gamification in organizations and believe it will inspire them to work harder. Applying gamification to mundane tasks can not only attract and motivate millennials, but make the workplace more exciting and interesting for non-millennials, too.

So, how are organizations using gamification?

With AnswerHub‘s Knowledge-Driven Productivity (KDP), companies such as PayPal, eBay, LinkedIn and Epic Games use badges, status and reputation points to motivate users to reach various goals and achievements within their online communities.

An article from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania highlights three other examples of gamification at work:

1. Microsoft

Microsoft wanted employees to beta-test a version of its Windows operating system. Employees were reluctant to spend their valuable time testing the new software—until Microsoft turned the testing into a game of hangman. Upon completing various tasks, players earned virtual letters that spelled “beta.”

After the game launched, participation in the testing quadrupled. Microsoft now regularly uses games to motivate employees. One game, called “Communicate Hope,” encourages players to test new products by having teams compete to assist in disaster relief.

2. U.S. Army

The Army created a game, “America’s Army,” which puts players through simulated basic training before launching them into an exciting team-based combat game. The game costs only 0.25 percent of the Army’s recruiting budget, but it’s more effective at attracting recruits than all other forms of advertising combined.

3. Zappos

Zappos uses gamification to create a tight-knit atmosphere at its corporate headquarters. When employees log on to the intranet, they see a co-worker’s face. If they can’t identify the person, they’re encouraged to email him or her to establish a connection.

Gamification isn’t a fad; it’s the future of business management and employee engagement.

The gamification industry is expected to reach a staggering $11 billon by 2020. In an era when U.S. employees work more hours than any other workforce in the industrialized world, it’s time we had a little fun.

There is a way to gamify your business, regardless of your organization’s size or industry. Do some research, gauge employee interest, and create a plan to boost productivity, reengage employees and motivate your team.

Caitlin Zucal is product marketing manager at DZone Software. A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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