Everyone likes fun and games. Even better, getting paid to play games at work! Research shows that games — more specifically gamification, the creative application of game elements and digital game design techniques into business processes — helps people learn new concepts more quickly than via traditional training methods, and better retain information. And gamification significantly ratchets up engagement.
TalentLMS in its 2019 gamification survey found that 89% of those surveyed said gamification makes them feel more productive at work. Nearly as many — 88% — said gamification makes them happier, too. Significantly, 83% of those who received gamification-style training said it made them feel motivated while 61% of employees who said they received traditional-style training said they felt bored and unproductive.
These findings are particularly relevant in light of the pandemic as so many employees now work from home where distractions abound. Anything organizations can do to keep their employees focused and engaged is smart business. That’s a key reason for a surge in popularity of gamification elements in everything from online training programs to remote mentorships.
According to Technavio, the gamification market is expected to grow by US $17.56 billion during 2020 through 2024, with 45% of that growth originating in North America.
Why Gamification Works
In their report, Technavio writes “The integration of gamification with e-learning improves employee engagement, motivates and promotes team building, and offers valuable feedback to enhance the learning experience.”
So how does it accomplish these results? Gamification uses technology to positively influence human’s behaviors, and to promote strategic action through communication and user engagement. When humans experience pleasure or satisfaction they release the chemical substance dopamine. Gamification — for instance, completing tasks to earn badges — offers a route to facilitate the release of dopamine, which in turn spurs increased engagement and employee participation.
Top Brands Use Gamification
That’s why everyone from SAP to PwC incorporates gamification in their training, e-learning and similar business initiatives. They use it to help align employee focus with company goals; inform, connect and motivate employees; encourage behaviors that support performance; and recognize employee success.
SAP looked to a gamification app called Roadwarrior, which simulated client meetings using real data, to help their sales team excel. Players earned badges and competed against each other by accurately answering client questions.
Financial services firm PwC used PowerUp! to encourage and motivate employees to participate in some of the company’s strategic initiatives while improving their digital skills. PowerUp! is a live, hosted, mobile trivia game show in which employees vie for cash prizes based on their knowledge of digital trends. (Though PwC began using the game prior to the pandemic, they quickly adjusted the content to suit the current environment. The company said the skills employees gained playing the game eased the transition to a virtual working and learning environment.)
At ViewPoint, we’ve developed gamification solutions for an array of companies — including Boston Scientific, Beckman Coulter, Ingram Micro, NEJM Group, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) — seeking fun, thought-provoking ways to engage their employees, customers and constituents.
For instance, Boston Scientific targeted physicians with an interactive journey through the digestive system, which required correct answers to challenging medical questions to proceed along the journey. Ingram Micro directed their package-delivery game at potential customers of the company’s commerce and lifecycle services.
AIA’s game Build the Block was aimed at high school students, a digitally sophisticated audience that has grown up on video games. The goal was to expose them to the architecture profession in a way that would resonate, which in this instance involved a game — presented on iPads — where the students made strategic and financial decisions as they redeveloped a local neighborhood.
The game was originally designed to be played live in small groups. To make it available to a broader audience, a second version was created for online use by community leaders, teachers and students. This version can be enjoyed via web app on any device by as few as a single player, providing an engaging and fun learning experience for remote users.
In all cases, the enterprises reported higher levels of audience engagement using these gamification solutions than with the more traditional, less interactive approaches they had used in the past. (Though most were created prior to the pandemic for on site rather than remote use, the fundamental structure, strategy, and visual and UX design are identical for both uses — only the deployment environment differs.)
Gamification is Part of Smart Performance Management Strategy
The rise of COVID-19 has pushed many businesses to find clever ways to boost employee engagement in a virtual environment. Gamification not only builds engagement, it helps workers enhance their existing digital skills — even learn now ones. And that’s a win for everyone.