The HR Guide to Workplace Gamification

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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How it works

Businesses compete with each other to hire and retain the best talent. It is also important to keep your employees motivated and get the best out of them. This is the reason that the concept of gamification at workplaces has become quite popular all over the world. Gamification leverages the inherent human trait of competitiveness to improve employee productivity. It uses the concepts of traditional and social games which we all play since our childhood to non-game scenarios so as to keep employees motivated to consistently perform better.

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Gamification techniques let employees compete not just with others but also with themselves (past performance) for incentives. They can set their own goals in concurrence with their superiors and then strive to achieve them.

Why is gamification needed?

A Gallup research concluded in 2012 had reported some shocking findings. Not even one out of 10 employees was found to be ‘engaged’ in their jobs. Out of the remaining, 60 per cent are ‘not engaged’ and 32 per cent were found to be ‘actively disengaged’. These findings are alarming for the employers to say the least. On the other hand, the studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of gamification techniques by HR have been surprisingly positive and encouraging. 87 per cent of employees agree that gamification helps them to improve their productivity.

Hence, despite some criticism and scepticism, gamification as a trend has caught every HR manager’s attention around the world. Let us now consider some specific reasons, why gamification is so popular amongst HR managers:

1. Improve Talent Acquisition and Management

If gamification starts from the hiring process itself, it helps the HR departments to improve their chances of hiring the best talents. The idea of incentive or reward based recruitment process can attract the most talented of the potential employee to apply for your job. Not only that, but gamification also helps in the induction and management of new employee.

2. Cultivate Corporate Culture and Retain Valued Employees

Gamification also makes it easier for a new employee to become a part of the organization and get acquainted with his/her team and adapt to the organizational culture. Gamification also helps to make work interesting and drive away monotony. Thus, it plays an important role in retaining employees and reducing an organisation’s labour turnover rate.

3. Motivate Employees to Learn and Participate in Training

If applied smartly, you can use gamification techniques to motivate your employees to acquire newer skills and update their knowledge. These techniques ensure that employees constantly strive to improve their performance. It makes them not only more receptive to learning but also makes them take an active part in the training process.

4. Incentivize Paperwork and Other Administrative Requirements

Paperwork and other administrative requirements are quite boring and monotonous for most employees. Therefore, they tend to put off such work or procrastinate as much as possible. However, you can gamify the tasks and associate some incentives (not necessarily monetary) with their completion. It is sure to pique your employees’ attention and make these tasks interesting and challenging.

5. Map the Path to Career Success:

Gamification techniques often require employees to set their own goals for short and long term, in conjunction with expected promotions, salary raise, perquisites or other monetary and non-monetary incentives. Hence, the process plays an important role in shaping an employee’s career path in an in an organisation. In other words, gamification is instrumental in mapping the path to career success for every employee.

How to Get Started With Gamification

Gamification at the workplace needs careful planning as well as implementation. A clear understanding between the management and workers is essential for the success of the endeavour. In addition, you need to take the following steps to ensure a smooth transition towards gamification of processes at various levels of the organization.

1. Understand the core objectives

The very first step is to understand and clearly define the core objectives behind gamification. The objectives could be one or a combination of these – improving employee productivity, increasing their engagement at the job, filling timesheets on schedule, reducing labour turnover, etc. This first step is often the defining factor in the success or failure of the gamification process.

2. Identify the right incentives

It is not necessary that incentives are monetary. In fact, in most process gamifications, non-monetary incentives like certificates, badges, points, notifications, etc. work better. However, it is important to match the incentives well with the efforts put in by your employees. Also, you need to ensure that the incentives are enticing enough for your employees.

3. Implement

Once you have decided on the various incentives on the basis of pre-defined objectives, the next step is obviously to implement. You need to implement the gamification smoothly, ensuring complete fairness and transparency.

Performance check and reconsideration if needed

After implementation, you need to check if the objectives are met in terms of performance, etc. If not, you may need to readjust and go through all the steps again until you are satisfied with the results.

Things to be careful about

There are certain aspects you need to be careful about, if you want to succeed in gamification. These are:

  1. Don’t start the process without clearly defined objectives and end-goals.
  2. It is important to have flexibility in the incentive plans offered. An incentive that motivates one set of employees may not work with another. Understanding your employees is essential.
  3. A problem that commonly arises with gamifying processes is that it can distract your employees. Establishing a clear link to a work objective and incentives is critical to the success of the gamification process.

Real Life Examples:

Organizations all over the world have successfully improved the effectiveness of their various processes through gamification and improved their employee productivity. Xerox successfully gamified their management training program, and Live Ops drastically improved their employee retention rate. Marriott devised an innovative game to attract new talent.

In summary, it is clear that if implemented well, gamification can make a significant impact on not just employee productivity, but also reduce turnover and enhance motivation. Gamification is a phenomenon that is here to stay.

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The HR Guide To Workplace Gamification. (2020, Mar 27). Retrieved from