The Unknown Benefits of Gamification – Part Two
Part one of this blog series introduced the lesser known benefits of gamification. In this post, we’ll explore how gamification can actually help create happier, more engaged employees. Employers are looking for ways to create more satisfied employees. That helps with customer experiences and engagement, and can help reduce attrition. Gamification can assist these efforts.
Making the employee the hero of their game: New views of gamification focus less on the “winner takes all” view of the leaderboard and competition. Instead, they center more on leaderboards and benchmarks that are personalized for the employee. It’s often a good practice to measure groups or individuals against a personal, custom-fit benchmark instead of a leaderboard where the same people always reach the top. In this way, a revised leaderboard—where one competes against a benchmark of oneself—is a more effective way to use gamification and one that makes the employee the hero of their story.
Maybe most importantly, as opposed to classic leaderboards, these mechanisms allow for a feeling of hope and increased motivation, since getting poor scores on a given day still doesn’t mean that an employee won’t be at the top of her game the next week. Letting people know how they are doing, and often, is a key to success. Gamification lets you do just that—it also reinforces the fact that tomorrow is another day.
Recognition: In addition to feedback, recognition is another basic element of employee satisfaction and well-being. Gamification allows you to monitor who has made substantial improvements, or who has been having a great last few weeks. Unlike traditional leaderboards that can overlook the relative improvements employees are making, gamification allows you to take notice of and recognize those who are making real progress. Recognition is a key ingredient to the feeling of satisfaction.
A sense of mastery: As gamification allows us to track and record our results over time, it provides a great tool to give employees a feeling that they are progressing and mastering their work. A researcher from the University of Chicago has coined the term “flow”1 and described it as a feeling of being in command of what we are doing—executing tasks effortlessly and performing to our best potential.
Work-related satisfaction is inherently related to this feeling of flow, and gamification solutions give employees the opportunity to feel that they are mastering what they do. Using gamification analytics, managers and game designers can optimize the level of difficulty an employee feels at work to fit with the sense of flow. It’s about adjusting the level of difficulty to provide a challenging game that can still be won.
Knowing where you stand: Another great feature of gamification is that employees can get a sense of progress on their own, without having to turn to their supervisors to see how they are doing. When done right, gamification allows employees direct access to the state of their performance at work through personal benchmarks and rewards for specific tasks.
Managing Through Gamification
Showing employees their next calls to action: Gamification can also be used to help manage various tasks within the organization. When integrated with enterprise apps, employees not only can see how they are doing, but also what they should do next. This is also great for new hire onboarding.
A sense of autonomy and choice: Gamification offers employees both. When done correctly, gamification can help give employees the feeling that they can choose whether to participate in the games being played or not. Employees have stated that having the ability to choose their own path, be it training, achieving their KPIs, or doing something extraordinary that will earn them “Karma” points, is extremely valuable to them. Gamification allows employees to experience a sense of choice, which can be translated into stronger engagement and motivation.
On-the-job training: The past few years have seen workplaces investing in eLearning—and for good reason. Gamification gives employers the opportunity to offer on-the-job training instead of training classes, which can disrupt the normal routine of employees’ work. Gamification is especially effective for eLearning because features such as quizzes, simulations and other mechanics help increase the quality of learning, and at the same time, turn it into an enjoyable experience.
Balance: Finally, gamification can help employees balance their work requirements. Because employees often find themselves in situations with conflicting expectations (e.g., when requested to solve customer service issues as fast as possible, but also to receive the highest customer service satisfaction ratings), gamification can help with tracking various service elements and highlighting areas for improvement. By tracking these multiple elements, gamification can help organizations and employees to find the right balance in order to achieve optimal performance.
1Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row, 1990.