As businesses of all varieties try to new ways to keep their employees well trained and engaged in their jobs, they seek out all kinds of methods - one of the newest and most popular of which is gamification.
This concept, broadly defined, is the use of game mechanics like leaderboards, point scoring and avatars in non-game settings, like training and fitness, in order to increase the engagement and interest of the users. These concepts can be applied to a wide variety of tasks and aspects of a business in an attempt get more out of employees.
Disengaged workers are a serious problem in the American business landscape. A Gallup poll found that 70 percent of employees in the U.S. are not "enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace." These lax attitudes come with a major cost - $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity each year, the source noted.
Gamification can help fix that. By following a few simple guiding principles, a company can find ways to make its workforce more involved and invested in their jobs.
Create a challenge
Games are, by their very nature, challenging to the people playing them. They set up a system of rules, and a goal for all the players to achieve, and playing becomes the act of tackling the challenge set before them.
"That challenge keeps players invested in the game and creates engagement with it."
But games can also help a person learn. A study by Manu Kapur and June Lee found that students who were given specific instructions in solving math problems did not fare as well in testing as those who were given limited instruction and allowed to fail as they attempted to solve them.
The greater challenge forced students to think for themselves and develop real problem solving strategies, which kept them more engaged with the material. Companies can use this idea when giving work to employees. If there is a challenge in the job, people will naturally be more engaged in solving it. Finding a way to mix up the work so that employees are constantly tested by it will keep them motivated.
A gamified process is one that allows the user to figure out what to do next, and how to accomplish that task. That agency creates engagement in the users and helps them to feel more a part of what they are doing.
Amy Gartner of Wellness and Prevention Inc, writing for Wired, said that in order to feel hooked by something, it needs to fulfill a person's psychological needs. Those needs - autonomy, competence and relatedness - are all satisfied by gamified processes.
Companies that can help workers satisfy these in their job will have a more engaged and interested workforce. A gamified process allows a worker autonomy to choose what to accomplish next, helps them feel competent by making instructions and setting a clear, simple goal, and encourages relatedness through scoreboards and other ways to compare themselves to their co-workers.
By creating more opportunity for self-directed work, and by finding ways to challenge workers on a daily basis, a company can develop a more invested workforce. Workers who feel engaged by their jobs are more willing to go the extra mile for a company and make sacrifices that will benefit the business. Gamification creates these feelings, and by finding a way to incorporate it into an employee's daily life, an organization can get its staff working at its most productive.