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Gamification: engage employees and grow your business.

Posted on November 30, 2017

Let’s talk about gamification, but first, what do you count as success? High profit and turnover? A happy and motivated workforce? A well-known and respected brand?

Of course, any businessman knows the importance of offsetting short-term wins against longer-term strategy. We don’t want just to be successful this year. We want to build a brand, company and team that will weather the disruptive business climate for the foreseeable future.

So, how does gamification achieve this?

Should it be an essential part of your internal Learning & Development program? Or is it hype?

In the first article of our gamification series, we explore the science behind knowledge retention and how your business can build on this to achieve short- and long-term goals.


Gamification in the modern workplace.

Gamification expert Yu-kai Chou defines gamification as “the craft of deriving fun and engaging elements found typically in games and thoughtfully applying them to real-world or productive activities”. So, how does this apply to your workplace?

Believe it or not, our whole education system moves around gamification, with our grades working as ‘rewards.’ But the real high achievers are not simply driven by external recognition and a parrot-like memory for facts but by a real intrinsic passion for learning.

Moving into the modern-day workplace, companies use many similar reward-based mechanisms, from salary packages to competitive incentives such as employee-of-the-month schemes, bonuses, and team trips. But, as with academia, if all that motivates you is your salary packet, then there is no brand loyalty and your top employees may jump ship the second a better offer comes along.

So, we’re already much more accustomed to gamification than we may realise. This explains the astronomic rise of business tools and apps that integrate elements of fun and gamification into everyday business tasks.

But are these platforms using the best scientifically proven gamification techniques? Or are they just shooting for quick wins and short-term goals?

The science of knowledge retention.

We all know that the key to business success is a motivated, engaged, and educated team. They are the essence of your brand and customer experience.

So, take a second to think about your current Learning and Development process. Do you still employ traditional training practices such as offsite training days? Do you have an online system that encourages training via your intranet? Or have you gone digital and embraced the mobile learning platforms available?

Whichever system you adopt, take a step back to think about how successfully your employees retain their training and onboarding knowledge. Are they motivated to continual learning and improvement, or are they simply competing for more rewards, recognition and incentives?

According to gamification experts Scott Nicholson and Yu-kai Chou, reward-based training and gamification only work when focusing on short-term goals. When focusing on long-term goals, however, they recommend not just focusing on rewards to avoid the risk that the reward itself becomes the primary goal instead of wanting to learn and improve.

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

This is what is known as intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation. To successfully retain knowledge in the longer term while also meeting short-term goals, you must carefully combine the two elements.

External motivators such as rewards, incentives and leaderboards get employees off the starting block and inspire them to start training faster than they perhaps otherwise would.

However, this needs to be combined with intrinsic motivation techniques that inspire them to continue learning and developing towards their goals, not just for external recognition.

This is the key to successful gamification in the workplace and a happy and motivated team dedicated to continual learning and meeting short- and longer-term targets.

So, how do you put this into force in your workplace? Where do you start, and how does gamification successfully come into this?

This is what we delve into in our next article, an essential read for any business looking to improve its short and longer-term strategy. Discover more here.