Employee engagement is highly valued in the contemporary business climate. It’s not difficult to see why this is the case. After all, a more engaged workforce tends to be more productive, loyal, and innovative. Not to mention that engagement can be a contributing factor to mitigating dysfunctional turnover.
Organizations are taking a variety of approaches to improve engagement levels. At their best, these incorporate a solid listening strategy that helps your company to better understand the specific needs and drivers of your workforce. But it can also involve tactics that tend to motivate workers in most employment circumstances. One approach that is seeing a rise in adoption at the moment is gamification.
We’re going to take a closer look at employee engagement gamification. What does it involve and why can it be effective?
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the process of adding an element of play to traditionally serious tasks. This can involve scoring points for completion of goals, the incorporation of rewards and prizes to celebrate achievements, and — in many cases — aspects of competition. It is generally agreed that the perceived drudgery of essential tasks can cause people to become easily disengaged with them. This tends to be particularly prevalent when these tasks have to be performed in much the same way over a long period of time. The intention of gamification, then, is to inject additional life and interest into these day-to-day processes.
Various sectors have begun to incorporate gamification into their organizational practices. Schools and other educational institutions have long held that games can help reinforce theoretical lessons. Retailers frequently utilize gamification to boost loyalty among consumers. Even financial institutions use gamification techniques on mobile applications to improve consumers’ experiences. It should be no surprise, then, that organizations continue to explore ways that this approach can help improve and maintain employee engagement.
How Gamification Can Enhance Engagement
The definition of gamification and how it fits into the workplace is simple enough to understand. But how can it make a tangible difference when it comes to employee engagement?
Some of the primary influences include:
A Sense of Fun
Employees might find their careers fulfilling and enriching in many ways. However, there are certainly parts of the job itself that are dull. Gamification helps to provide an element of fun to these essential tasks. This isn’t about tricking employees into thinking what they’re doing is a game; they know their role isn’t always going to be enjoyable. Instead it adds another dimension that helps them engage with the task more enthusiastically.
It’s always important to recognize that salary and benefits shouldn’t be the only things employees receive in exchange for their talents. Workers tend to be more engaged when they feel they are being fairly rewarded for their efforts. As such, gamification offers additional incentives. This can be in the form of prizes, recognition, and experiences. Though, it’s vital to remember that to achieve the most meaningful engagement, such rewards must only be a component of gamification rather than the driving force.
Teamwork is a vital aspect of engagement. However, healthy competition between colleagues and departments is also an invaluable influencer of workers’ connections to their work and the business. Gamification provides regular opportunities for employees to take part in forms of competition that make the most of their talents, work ethic, and innovation. It also allows them to encourage one another to push a little further in a friendly manner. As long as these contests don’t elicit negative competitive instincts, everyone involved can benefit from this enhanced engagement.
When employees feel that they are simply being dictated to, this can be a hurdle to engagement. Workers want to feel as though they have a certain amount of agency over their actions in order to perform at their best. Gamification can often empower employees to be more creative in their approach to achieving goals or strategizing against their competition. While the company still directs their activities, workers feel as though they have some control over how they accomplish the end results. As such, staff can be more engaged with both the core tasks of their job and the business itself.
Examples of Employee Engagement Gamification
As with any employee engagement strategy, it’s important to establish the areas of operations in which gamification is likely to be most effective.
Some of the common points of focus include:
Training and Development
We’ve touched on the fact that schools are proponents of gamification. Some similar principles can help improve engagement with your training and development programs, too. This might include designing games that better illustrate some of the theoretical concepts your employees need to learn about their role or your industry. It can involve small prizes for quizzes that recap the key points of the training session. Even more fun and creative role-playing scenarios can help your new hires to think more creatively when responding to the challenges they’re presented with.
One of the most common forms of gamification is the presence of performance leaderboards in the workplace. This is particularly prevalent in sales environments, though they can be utilized wherever employees or teams need to hit a metric-based target. Leaderboards help to promote the sense of competition and ensure achievements are highly visible, encouraging workers to engage more enthusiastically and rise up the ranks. However, it’s equally important to ensure the gamification aspect of this is emphasized, rather than allowing it to be used as a tool to put additional pressure on workers.
One small yet impactful form of employee engagement gamification is running occasional instant win events. This involves setting target thresholds for teams that when these are achieved by individual employees result in a prize. Some businesses set out a prize table, allowing workers to select their reward. However, others add to the sense of fun by having staff spin a prize wheel to determine their reward. Not only does this have the engaging component of tangible incentives in exchange for productivity, it can also be an event in which team members encourage one another to push further and celebrate achievements together.
Quality and Cultural Competitions
It’s important to remember that employee engagement gamification shouldn’t be focused just on productivity. There will be various roles within your organization that are not driven by hard metrics. Similarly, there are other aspects of your business that can benefit from greater employee engagement as a result of gamification. This can include quality-based competitions that are determined by consumer feedback or voting by colleagues. It may involve creating team contests to produce solutions to cultural challenges within your workplace. Some businesses also invite teams to compete to raise the most money for a charity that is closely connected to the company’s values.
Gamification can be a valuable component of a successful employee engagement strategy. It helps to provide incentives for performance and a more dynamic culture to work in. As with any strategy, it’s important to tailor your approach using the most relevant tools to your organization. Therefore, it’s wise to consider what forms of gamification are likely to resonate with your staff and empower them to forge stronger connections with your company.