Employee Engagement Blog

Want to have more fun at work? Try gamification!

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Fancy a game? Great! The last Friday of January is Fun at Work Day, so we’d like to talk about gamification at work. After all, why only have fun at work for just one day, if you can have fun every day? With gamification at work, we don’t mean playing a game of FIFA during your lunchbreak – although that’s fun too, of course. No, with gamification you use game elements to make something more fun and challenging. Whether you’ve noticed or not, there’s already plenty of ‘gamification’ in your everyday life. Just think of the points you earn in your fitness app by simply moving around, or progress bars that fill up while reading an article on the internet (????). In these examples, you constantly get small rewards, which motivate you to go one step further; after all, the next reward (and the good feeling that comes with it) is already within reach!

The Playing Man

At work, however, there is often no room for ‘games’. A missed opportunity, because gamification plays on the intrinsic motivation of the human being. It’s in our nature to have an urge to learn, perform and compete. In other words: to play. In the 1930s, long before millennials grew up with FIFA and Super Mario, Dutch historian Johan Huizinga already described mankind was made to play, in his book ‘Homo Ludens’ (Latin, roughly meaning: the playing man). According to Huizinga, we see game elements in everything. In obvious examples like sports, but also in serious matters such as war, law, and yes, also at work. When you think of it, a company is the perfect place to implement gamification. Think about what you and your colleagues are doing throughout the day and the milestones you accomplish by taking those actions, both big and small. The sales department brings in new customers, your support department systematically completes tickets, and in the warehouse countless orders are prepared for dispatch. It’s a shame to only reflect on all those achievements once or twice a year in a private conversation, or at best periodically if your company awards an Employee of the Month-title to a deserving staff member, isn’t it?

Winning Boss Fights

It doesn’t take much imagination to see game elements in your own work. KPIs are goals or missions. Separate tasks that you already keep track of in Jira, Asana or Trello will earn you points. Every customer that is brought in is another Boss Fight won. And that four-week sprint from your agile department, isn’t that already just one big ‘questline’ with a built-in progress bar? Gamification at work doesn’t have to be complicated, you already have the ‘game rules’! All you need to do is visualize the results. Fortunately, there are solutions available nowadays to visualize live data. With Netpresenter, for example, you can easily push content from SharePoint or Power BI to everyone in your organization. This way, you can keep track of rankings in no time and hand out badges for unique performance. If you are on your way to the coffee machine and witness in real-time that your colleague is passing you on the ranking table, you know what to do as soon as you get back to your desk!

Live feedback

Live feedback is essential for this to work. Video game makers (and players) have known for a long time that you’re not ready for the final Boss Fight right away. It’s customary that you’re first introduced to the game world with tutorials. Pop-ups then point you to new skills and possibilities. You might need to improve your internal communication for gamification to work. I know what you’re thinking: Gamification sounds nice and all, but does it actually work? The answer is yes, research does show that gamification has positive effects on productivity and engagement levels. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a great reason to experiment with gamification to see what works and what doesn’t for your organization. After all, it may seem like gamification works if the employees in your support department start processing more and more tickets to ‘win the game’, but it doesn’t when the quality of their work deteriorates as a result.

So, don’t think lightly of introducing gamification to your company; getting it right can be difficult. But if your productivity and engagement levels need a boost, definitely go for it – give gamification a try, and think of ways to make work a little more fun every day. That way, every day becomes Fun at Work Day!

Wondering how Netpresenter can help you gamify your organization? Feel free to contact us. We’d love to game with you! Or download the free self assessment to measure the levels of engagement in your organization.

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Dave Schmeitz

Dave is Netpresenter's Online Marketing Manager. He likes to share his knowledge about engaging and inspiring employees. Dave also loves to travel and dance L.A. style Salsa and Bachata.