As a business owner, wouldn’t it be great if the work you and your employees had to do was as engaging as playing video games? Or binge-watching a Netflix series? Or going on a blowout shopping trip? Imagine if a small business could capture the magic of play and inject it into their work. It would have a profound impact on their bottom line. Enter gamification.
Here, TVC Leisure explains what exactly gamification is and how it can be used to improve the productivity of small business employees.
What is Gamification?
Simply put, gamification is about taking the principles of play and using them to make real-world experiences more engaging.
Gamification is about taking the things that make play so engaging and applying them to other aspects of life. Embracing gamification in the workplace makes tasks more compelling and promotes a positive work ethic. This will ultimately lead to employee satisfaction, higher productivity and more profitability for your business.
Can Gamification really boost productivity?
Gamification is proven to increase workplace productivity and facilitate learning. But for it to work effectively, you need three critical elements:
- Context: The Gamification element of your business should relate to the tasks being performed and integrate into the work as smoothly as possible.
- Value: Employees need to feel as though they’re getting value from the activity, whether its status, rewards or progress. Make it easy for people to see the value they’re getting.
- Success: If you make a Gamification strategy too complex, nobody will be able to complete the challenge. Instead of creating engagement, you’ll engender frustration. Ultimately, the game’s goals or objectives must be achievable.
How can we apply Gamification to business?
First of all, we investigate the things about play, particularly games, that keep us engaged. Human beings are great at two things: pattern recognition and being goal oriented. Games exploit this aspect of our psychology by showing progress and providing rewards for completing tasks. All you have to do is layer the aspects of games we find so engaging, over everyday work.
Any game with a levelling system, from Candy Crush and Farmville, to Call of Duty and Overwatch, displays a progress bar that shows you how close you are to levelling up. Levelling up provides in-game rewards and acts as a psychological milestone that gives you a feel-good feeling when you reach it. When players are close to levelling up, they’ll use the excuse of “I’ll just keep going until I level up” to keep playing, just to reach that goal.
Businesses can use the same method to encourage productivity. The classic example is stock management. Modern stock management software displays a progress bar that increases every time an item is scanned. Seeing the bar steadily increase gives workers an immediate feeling of progression in even the most repetitive of tasks. If you have work that involves quotas of anything, you can implement progression indicators like this to encourage your staff and keep them engaged.
Modern games offer achievements for succeeding at certain tasks. The worst of these are simply for progressing through the game (you completed the level! Achievement Unlocked!) But the best of these encourage players to explore the game to a deeper level of engagement by asking them to try different approaches or pulling off skill-intensive strategies. Progressive achievements will also have an indication of your progress, like levelling systems.
For the workplace, if you could earn an achievement for not receiving a customer complaint for 30 days, you’re less likely to let customer service slip on day 21. This works because as humans we have an expectation of effort vs. reward.
Once you’ve invested so much time in getting even a third of the way along, with the right incentive, you feel bought in and need to commit to the achievement in order to justify the effort you put in at the start.
Quests are just like any business task, framed in such a way that emphasises the goal over the obstacles. “Go to the dungeon and slay the dragon,” says nothing about the traps and monsters you’ll encounter on the way.
Rather than focusing on the negative aspects, you remain goal-orientated and positive. So when you reach your goal, you get another hit of feel-good dopamine for a job well done. Remaining goal-orientated is key to maintaining engagement. So set goals and always keep them in sight.
Achievements and level ups are themselves rewards, but to be effective, you need to offer some tangible reward. Badges, points, and more tangible incentives fuel motivation and help participants feel like they are accomplishing something. This is proven to increase productivity among workers.
If you’ve ignored gamification because you believe it’s something only a larger company can implement, you may be missing a golden opportunity. Not only to boost customer loyalty and sales but to better engage your employees. New technologies make it easier—and more affordable—for small businesses to use gamification.
Gamification has the potential to transform the way our working lives feel. If done right, we could usher in an age where work and play are indistinguishable and everyone feels more enriched by their lives. But until then, we can use gamification to boost productivity, engage staff and get them to buy into your business vision. Think of how it will fit into your business strategy and workplace culture. Make sure you clearly understand what you want to achieve with it, then target your efforts toward reaching your goals.