“Work from anywhere” has not only shifted how we work but also with whom. New and previously untapped talent pools are now accessible in a myriad of markets and locations, making the workforce more diverse than ever. This shift is driving employers to explore new ways of engaging remote and hybrid employees in fresh and inclusive ways, leading to a growing interest in enterprise gamification.
Enterprise gamification incorporates game-related mechanics such as stories and narratives, points, coins, custom currency, badges, levels, leaderboards, and more in non-game contexts (such as a business workflow) to tap into both intrinsic (internal motivations such as autonomy, mastery, and meaning) and extrinsic (rewards, trophies, and money) motivators.
The practice of gamification in the workplace has been around in various forms, even before the digital era. Yet, the term ‘gamification’ is relatively new, becoming popularized in the aughts. Many early practitioners of enterprise gamification failed, as they took a naïve approach by simply adding points, badges, and leaderboards to menial tasks, expecting this alone to add excitement and fun. Gartner predicted back in 2012 that 80% of enterprise gamification implementations would fail in the 2 years following the report. This statistic is highly referenced; unfortunately, there is no clear evidence of a follow-up that validates this prediction. However, it would not be surprising if it were, in fact, the case, given a strong reluctance to the movement shortly thereafter with gamification at the peak of inflated expectation and being called things such as “lipstick on a pig” and “chocolate-covered broccoli.”
In recent years, gamification has had a resurgence thanks to the introduction of human-centered design and behavioral psychology into enterprise-level business and workflows. Effective, sustainable gamification goes beyond simply assigning points to tasks and implementing leaderboards, both of which are often used as a quick way of providing a dopamine hit that only lasts a short time and requires constant top-ups. The human psyche requires more than just dopamine to stay actively and consistently engaged. Sustainable enterprise gamification needs to spark other positive chemicals in our bodies like serotonin (triggered by teamwork and feeling respected) and oxytocin (when we feel safe and bond with others). This is rooted in behavioral psychology; when coupled with good game design and human-centered focus, gamification is a powerful and sustainable approach to consistent employee engagement.
Bartle’s Taxonomy of Players, created by Richard Bartle, was an early exploration of why and how people played video games. His taxonomy consisted of four player types: Killers, Explorers, Achievers, and Socializers. Each player type has a different approach, preference, and reason for playing a game. For example, Achievers are more likely to collaborate to achieve a goal, are driven by levels and game completion, and will go to great lengths to unlock badges. Whereas a Killer is more likely to be motivated by achieving a high score and competing against others.
When compared to why and how employees approach work, similar parallels can be drawn. In this context, it is easy to see why enterprise gamification can be a positive way to inclusively motivate and engage employees. Therefore, enterprise gamification is ideally placed to assist in learning, inductions, onboarding, and connecting employees in a meaningful way even when working remotely.
Every customer experience starts with an employee experience, so employees will always be at the heart of organizational success. Yet, employee engagement has long been undervalued and considered peripheral to process and performance. When people thrive, companies flourish – how we work is just as, if not more, important than what sort of work we do.
Company values such as collaboration, passion, fun, teamwork, trust, and accountability are all among the most common – and for good reason. These pillars drive success. Enterprise gamification, when correctly designed and used in conjunction with self-development activities and data-driven decisions, drives these values by providing the tools to encourage behaviors representative of achieving enterprise goals.
Gamification can solve a myriad of business challenges and reinvigorate embedded processes by:
Factors such as compliance, product, process, or social interest usually drive corporate training exercises. Examples include legislative policy and/or processes, occupational health and safety, recycling, or the latest and greatest update. Enterprises tend to apply a blanket approach, requiring employees to train either online or in the classroom, with the only catalysts to complete the training being a deadline and making it compulsory. This often results in last-minute rushes to complete the training, which in turn produces low retention of knowledge and a high dropout rate. This rush can also cause stress for employees, leading to potentially dangerous physical reactions, such as elevated adrenalin. Elevated adrenalin can lead to high blood pressure and anxiety, which can trigger the chemical release of cortisol.
Enterprise gamification, on the other hand, leverages both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to drive proactive attempts at learning, thus reducing time pressure on completion and making the task feel more like a game than an exam or test. The element of gamification is the major differentiator here. For example, in a game, there is often a final “boss fight.” Players assume that it is going to be hard and that they are likely going to “die” a few times before overcoming the battle. This approach instills an entirely different mindset: one that is open to learning through trial and error and does not fear failure.
This is approach is opposite to that of exams and other tests. A gamified approach to corporate training drives earlier and more frequent attempts of tests and quizzes and higher knowledge retention through repetition. These positive behaviors and outcomes are also rewarded through game mechanics e.g., badges and points, which become a digital representation of the employee’s effort and achievement.
To add to this–advances in, and wider adoption of, artificial intelligence (AI) at an enterprise level now enables organizations to personalize learning, making it more relevant and appealing – and in advanced cases, aligned with employees’ different learning styles. This personalization also lends itself to the introduction of micro-learning, which delivers bite-size learning modules to employees when needed. This, combined with mechanics such as scoring points, earning achievements, and progress bars, makes the learning process more engaging and allows employees to track their improvement over time, which can motivate them to continue in their self-development.
When implementing gamification into your enterprise workflows, you will want to go beyond leaderboards and points to ensure the outcome is what you intended – an engaged, efficient, and high-performing team. Below are three best practices to get you started:
1. Make it meaningful Simply leveling up, scoring points, and earning badges for daily or mundane tasks will not motivate people. Achievements should be meaningful, and representative of the effort put in. Humans are motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically, so incorporating both types of reward is key to success.
2. Go beyond point badges and leaderboards Although these are staples for many gamified experiences, there are a lot of other game mechanics that drive engagement and offer both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Some examples:
3. Don’t cut corners Enterprise gamification is primarily about changing behaviors to achieve an objective. But change requires two things: motivation and ability. Enterprise gamification should incorporate learning, personalization, and a wide range of game mechanics.
Centrical has been at the forefront of enterprise gamification for over a decade, having built a market-defining platform that connects all aspects of employee engagement, combining advanced gamification (going beyond points, badges, and leaderboards) with:
Centrical is used by some of the world’s biggest and most recognized brands for enterprise-wide learning, employee onboarding and pre-onboarding, sales and service performance, team collaboration, and so much more.
When implemented thoughtfully and correctly with a desire to add meaning, and purpose to employees’ ways of working and the work they do, enterprise gamification is a great way to drive employee engagement. Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind when considering gamification in your enterprise:
Ready to get started? See Centrical in action, and reach out to us see discuss the latest in enterprise gamification!