Gamification is part of who we are.
Write yourself a list and then tick off what you do a you do it. Scientists have confirmed that the simple process of ticking off your achievements triggers dopamine in the brain, rewarding you for your efforts.
An example of gamification. Only we’ve never called it that.
There are many instances of almost accidental gamification in life.
We reward dogs for behaving well; we reward kids for doing well at school.
We see people who are driven (almost obsessed) by the number of likes they get for any given post.
Fitbits (there are other products on the market) have made 10,000 steps a goal for millions of people – even if 10,000 steps doesn’t actually make that much difference to our health!
While loyalty programmes have made our wallets and purses bulge with plastic loyalty cards that often give us little or no value.
In many ways, the Libor Traders indulged in a predatory form of gamification – i.e. fixing the game to ensure they won!
As humans, we derive a pleasure from our achievements, and that could be as simple as receiving a supportive smile from a friend or a high five from a complete stranger.
In the world of work, we are told that gamification is big business:
It was predicted that by the end of 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations would use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. (Do they?)
We would also see the worldwide gamification market grow from $242 million in 2012 to $2.8 billion in 2016. (Is it?)
Finally, 53 percent of technology stakeholders said that by 2020, the use of gamification will be widespread. (Will it?)
In fact, gamification has failed for many organisations – Gartner estimates that 80% of workplace gamification efforts fall flat due to a lack of creativity and meaning.
So what’s the issue?
If the process is clunky and counter intuitive, colleagues can quickly see through the veneer of good intentions and spy a company that is trying to manipulate them.
Gamification solutions can often ask employees to do something very different from their normal, everyday tasks.
Is gamification actually linked to productivity or simply creating a false reality that has little meaning or connection?
So how can you use gamification successfully to help drive productivity and best behaviours?
Build it into things people already do – the reason loyalty schemes work well is that people feel they are rewarded for something they already do.
Make it credible – work is not a game (but neither should it be boring). But make it sound too much like a game and it will turn people off.
Give it meaning – what’s the narrative around it? Why is this important? Because if it’s not, it will be ignored.
Focus on a particular area of work – don’t try and introduce a generic gamification approach. It just won’t work.
Here are some areas where gamification can really work:
Employee advocacy – using a platform to help employees share great content with their network externally. We see platforms like SocialReferral, Smarp and many others do this successfully.
Recruitment – never experienced Arctic Shores, but there seems to be a fair amount of employers using it successfully – at least for early talent recruitment.
CSR – we came across a site called Changers.com and spoke to the Founders. Seems like an interesting way to incentivise colleagues to take action (you can do some good) and help with wellness. And just for a few cents a month!
Knowledge Sharing – with platforms like JIVE, you can become the go-to person about a particular subject because of your knowledge sharing. We like this, because it rewards a passion and commitment, and is directly linked to professional development.
Of course, there are other applications. Just remember, just because you give something a badge doesn’t mean someone’s going to want one.