Back in the 90s, I had college suitemates who never saw second semester because they spent the bulk of their first semester playing video games. They never got much done because they never seemed to focus on work.
Yet today, we see Fortune 100 companies demanding that we dedicate more IT expertise to building games for their employees instead of reporting on their programs.
Do games and productivity go hand in hand? Let's start with a point of clarification: We're not actually talking about games here. Games are a way to pass the time when you're stuck in a cabin and it's too cold to jump in the lake.
We're talking about the power of game-based mechanics in the design of recognition and incentive tools that drive people to perform the work-based activities that strengthen your business.
Gamification is serious business. We recently identified more than 670 gamification companies, and all signs point to the global gamification market growing at a rate of more than 30 percent during the forecast period 2019–2025, with a value of more than $32 billion in 2025.
Does gamification work?
Gamification delivers serious results. According to author Daniel Pink, it's important for individuals to feel autonomy over their work, mastery over the concepts they apply every day and a purpose for getting the job done. Pink states that gamification can make employees feel connected with each of these concepts individually or in any combination.
In November 2019, TalentLMS updated an ongoing study on gamification by canvassing nearly 900 respondents to determine the impact of gamification on their productivity, motivation and employee engagement. Among the key findings of the TalentLMS's 2019 Gamification at Work survey:
- Employees said gamification makes them feel more productive (89 percent) and happier (88 percent) at work.
- 87 percent said gamification provided a sense of belonging and purpose in the workplace.
- 33 percent would like more game-like features in their employee training software.
- 89 percent believe they'd be more productive if their work was more gamified.
- 78 percent of the respondents said that gamification in the recruiting process would make a company more desirable.
The study not only validated the positive impact of a gamification strategy on the workforce, but also identified the most common features in a gamification suite as:
- 71 percent of those polled mentioned badges as the most common gamification element.
- 59 percent said they're granted points by an app or software at work.
- 56 percent were awarded virtual or physical rewards for accomplishments.
- 51 percent ranked leaderboards fourth.
Putting gamification findings into practice
These findings have inspired incentive firms to develop a full suite of gamified applications (for example, Motivaction has created Encore, an ISO-certified Enterprise Engagement platform). Encore includes game structures like collection, chance, ranking and learning, as well as features like badging, eCards, Spin & Win, Learn & Earn, leaderboards and much more. We've found that incorporating games into incentive programs, whether as a central focus or as an extra bit of fun, can boost engagement and motivation.
Currently, we're charging our tech teams at MotivAction and Augeo to enhance this gamification package with input from industry experts and clients who know their teams and what it takes to improve their performance. For us, gamification is serious business and we're having fun with it.
Mike McWilliams is vice president of marketing and client strategy for MotivAction, which develops employee recognition and sales incentives solutions that create enterprise engagement, brand loyalty and build stronger relationships. This article originally appeared on MotivAction's blog.