Gamification In The Workplace

Gamification is that buzzword that no one knows what to do with. It‚Äôs vague, ambiguous, and sounds dangerously close to a crock of BS. Employees turning work into games? Uh, not on my watch.

But, if you don’t know by now, everything in the workplace—including buzzwords—is not always as it seems.

The word ‚Äúgamification‚Äù can be traced back to the early 2000s, by a guy named Nick Pelling. In his own words, Pelling describes gamification as, ‚ÄúBringing the lessons of the computer games world to the rest of industry.‚Äù

It‚Äôs important to note this distinction that Pelling makes in his definition: between turning work into a game (which many leaders might think when they see the term gamification being thrown around in leadership meetings) and applying the principles of games into the workplace. Gamification is the latter.

To look at how you can apply the principles of games in the workplace without turning the whole show into a three ring circus, take this recent example in which Kinetix unwittingly went down a route of gamification and how it‚Äôs led to increased engagement on our team.

The what: At the beginning of the year, Kinetix‚Äôs leadership team put into place a system of goals for each recruiting team. Previously, teams always had goals to hit but this new system was a formal way for goals to be set and for everyone in the company to have transparency to what those goals were. An unused whiteboard became a leaderboard where daily progress is tracked, and with each step forward the whole office knows via a ring of a bell.

Without intent, Kinetix dove headfirst into the world of gamification in the workplace. Since the system was put into place, our team overall is more engaged and in tune with the goals of each other and the company.

The three ways gamification led to increased engagement at Kinetix:

  • Clarifies: Giving the team a clear path forward allows everyone to easily understand what part they needed to play to reach the goals of the company. Everything is numerically based, making it easy to keep track of progress and how close we are to hitting goals.
  • Incentivizes: Having tangible goals set means everyone has their eyes on the prize. Engagement increases because everyone is working to reach the end of the race together. Reaching ‚Äúthe end‚Äù is an incentive enough for human nature to tap into.
  • Rewards: If you have a leadership team like ours, a gamified workplace means incentives past just reaching the finish line. Because our teams have a numerical number that is either hit or isn‚Äôt, it allows our leadership team to provide additional rewards surrounding the completion of the goal, beyond the completion satisfaction aspect.

Each of these increases in engagement makes the team feel connected, like we’re all working together towards this common goal. It’s the same mentality that drives team members in games—the mentality of motivation.

Our team didn‚Äôt even sit down to specifically try and gamify this process, we were just looking for a way to keep everyone engaged. In that sense, we worked backwards in the equation. But if you do set out to increase engagement through gamification, think less on systems that are ‚Äúfun‚Äù and more on systems that will help bring your team together by clearly defining the goal, incentivizing them, and rewarding them at the end.

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