The Unknown Benefits of Gamification – Part One
Most people, when asked, will say that gamification is about using badges and points—and that employees will compete against each other to get the best result. Competition-driven gamification is indeed the crux of conventional wisdom about gamification.
However, conventional wisdom isn’t always right.
It is true that gamification is a good way to create positive competition among co-workers and help enhance workplace productivity. This views human motivation as something that arises from one’s tendency to measure oneself in relation to one’s peers. As times have changed, however, so has our knowledge of human motivation (and the research explaining it).
Today, many employers are interested in raising intrinsic motivation (e.g., a sense of a job well done, a sense of completion and mastery) rather than extrinsic motivation (e.g., monetary rewards, winning a competition). The reason is that intrinsic motivation can drive better, longer-lasting results. So while points, badges and leaderboards are still important, more recently emphasis has been put on making work more meaningful. Gamification is increasingly used to give employees a sense of mastery and autonomy—an internal drive.
In turn, this new approach to gamification can have significant impact, such as helping change corporate culture, improve communication and encourage better performance management. Because these benefits of gamification sometimes go unnoticed, we thought it would be a good idea to expand on them here.
Objectiveness and Transparency
Transparency and fairness: First, objective data and transparency are gamification benefits that are often overlooked. Because implementing gamification requires the regular collection of objective performance data—such as sales people’s productivity, contact center employee activity or the use of knowledge collaboration—those who use gamification find themselves gathering valuable data that they didn’t previously. This in itself is highly valuable.
(Knowledge collaboration is the concept of building knowledge based on the collaboration among employees—the shared work helps create content and improve execution and mastery of tasks.)
Without even meaning to, managers are suddenly able to rate their employees based on real, hard data instead of what is being said about them or a post-facto manual leaderboard. As always, when dealing with data, the results can offer a surprising learning experience. Often, top performers may not be who you expected them to be. Because employees appreciate being assessed by objective means, this can motivate them to work harder, knowing that it will show in the numbers.
Timely feedback: The frequent collection of data also means that feedback is given regularly and often immediately. An employee who is struggling on a certain measure can be notified almost immediately—providing him/her an opportunity to correct course and enhancing a sense of control and mastery. It is very similar to using an activity tracker to measure exercise, diet and sleep—you see how you’re doing today, how you did yesterday, and how those measurements fit with the goals you want to reach.
Simpler management: Gamification also helps simplify the lives of managers. Just as being assessed by objective metrics is valuable to employees, it is also helpful for managers. They can use unbiased and accurate information in order to assess the performance of their employees—and can then invest their energy where real, data-backed issues arise. When analytics for gamification is used, managers can also easily tell where employees get “stuck” and help break tasks down to make them simpler and more manageable.
Part two of this blog—coming soon!—will explore how gamification can help create happier, more engaged employees.