Turning the Lens Inward with Gamification
Ever since the creation of the front-facing smartphone camera, the “selfie” has exploded in popularity—especially among younger people—with millions of one-armed photos flooding the Internet.
While selfies are a form of self-expression, they also indicate a paradigm shift—a greater focus on oneself, with a more public persona. In the old days, photos ended up in leather albums which were thumbed through by intimate friends or family members, and are now likely collecting dust.
Today, more and more photos are being viewed by thousands of followers with words of admiration or a simple thumbs up for all to see. When it comes to gamification, leveraging this trend of the inwardly turned lens works well.
While game-like elements such as traditional leaderboards were developed to spark an employee’s natural competitive nature, measuring individual success against others publicly can backfire, especially if low-or mid-tier performers, ultimately potentially demotivating individuals.
Instead, non-competitive leaderboards, where individuals measure their own success against personal benchmarks, works much better. If a user is struggling with a specific skill or task, you can drive them to complete eLearning activities or participate in incremental training. By making individuals the heroes of their own games, gamification provides intrinsic motivation.
In his best-selling book Drive, author Daniel Pink notes that people work harder for intrinsic motivation—such as doing things because they’re interesting or because they matter—than for extrinsic rewards, such as money or competition. According to Pink, intrinsic motivation is driven by three elements:
- Autonomy: the desire to direct our own lives
- Mastery: the desire to get better at something that is important to us
- Purpose: the desire to do something that services something larger than ourselves.
Gamification helps drive autonomy, mastery and purpose. When we set a benchmark for ourselves, we feel autonomy. When we beat that benchmark or improve on a skill, we feel mastery. And when we help our organization reach its goals, we feel sense of purpose, knowing that we are contributing to the greater good.
This is particularly important to millennials. Given their prominent place in today’s workplace, motivating them is critical. Our Executive Perspective offers insight into how gamification can do just that.
No matter our age, the psychological compensation we feel during an experience like this can’t be duplicated with financial rewards or by competing against our peers. That kind of motivation, from external sources, only lasts for so long. However, intrinsic motivation—or, having the desire to achieve something because of an inner wish—allows us to stay motivated indefinitely.
While competitiveness is undeniably a human trait, most individuals are even more satisfied when they’re able to beat a personal goal they’ve set for themselves that’s targeted, achievable, and personalized. By turning the lens inward, employees become motivated to improve, beat themselves and keep going.