Games are without a doubt an addictive fascination, and their use in the workplace is ever growing. The result is a new trend in the marketplace to engage employees and clients called gamification, and research indicates that the gamification market will exceed $5 billion in the next few years.
Using game mechanics and rewards for nongame applications, gamification strategies can play an important role to drive brand allegiance, customer loyalty, employee productivity, and even organizational alignment.
Already, organizations of all sizes have used gamification in areas such as customer engagement, loyalty programs, sales training, learning and development, and employee onboarding. The driving philosophy behind gamification is engaging consumers or employees through motivators they find most exciting, such as competitive challenges, collaborative teams, instant rewards, status, and occasionally winning some stuff.
Basically, there are two types of motivators that cause people to take action: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation involves doing something for external rewards, like points, badges, trophies, leaderboard ranking, status, money, praise or something else tangible. For extrinsically motivated people, it is not the action or behavior itself that motivates them, but rather the outcome, such as the promise of a bonus at the end of the process.
Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, drives behaviors that result in internal rewards, like achievement, mastery, adventure, enjoyment, and purpose. When people are intrinsically motivated, they have a genuine desire for the activity itself and a drive to complete an action because of the effect it has on them internally.
In successful gamification, extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are not polar opposites. Instead, they are dependent on each other. The best combination is a balance of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, such as an unexpected reward accompanied by a public “Atta Boy.”
Here are three factors to consider as you explore how gamification can help your organization.
Clearly Identify the Business Objectives: Instead of asking, “How can we leverage gamification in our organization?” begin with clearly defined business objectives and an analysis of the suitability of gamification to achieve those business objectives.
Think of the Audience as Players, not Puppets: Slapping some meaningless points, badges, and leaderboards into your sales campaign or marketing strategy does not mean that you’ll be able to get people to do what they’ve been unwilling to do before. Engage the target audience with meaningful incentives.
Design for Player-Centricity: The sweet spot for gamification is where the business objectives and player objectives overlap. Gamified applications must be designed to motivate players to achieve their goals and not just the goals of the organization.
Gamification certainly has many benefits. When done well it can increase productivity, strengthen teams, motivate employees to achieve goals, create fun and enjoyment, inspire friendly competition and increase engagement. But when it is applied in a haphazard way you encounter dangers such as:
- Players focused on “winning the game” rather than on the actions that are necessary to achieve your business objectives.
- Players finding ways to cheat or “game the system.”
- Players fostering an expectation for continuous rewards and the incentives must constantly escalate to be effective.
Making smart decisions about how to gamify diminishes the risk of negatively impacting your workers.
Forward-thinking organizations who understand the power of gamification to increase engagement are quickly learning how to leverage its power to achieve their business objectives. Let’s play!
A gamification speaker and designer, Monica Cornetti is the world’s number-one Gamification Guru according to UK-based Leaderboarded. She’s the author of the book Totally Awesome Training: Put Gamification to Work for You, writes The Gamification Report blog, and hosts the weekly Gamification Talk Radio Program. Monica received her MA in economic development and entrepreneurship from the University of Houston – Victoria and her BA in psychology from Seton Hill University. Follow her on Twitter @MonicaCornetti.