6 things you should know about gamification in business

Who doesn’t like to play ? Even Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory does. But gaming is not only restricted to board games and role play. Digitalization has taken over this part of our life. Against most clichés, 68% of players are over 18 years of age and 47% identify as female. Bottom line: everyone can be targeted by gaming. Digital gaming has also spread over the professional and business worlds. But how come gaming is now fully part of business practices? Can it make us better professionals and boost our performance ?

Gamification generates a lot of diverse emotions: curiosity, joy, enthusiasm. Those are powerful assets for managers to increase the performance and commitment of their employees. Managers are starting to leverage them.

But can you say the same? Are you up-to-date on gamification in business? Here 6 things you should know about gamification in business.

1 – What is gamification?

The gamification is the concept that allows to transpose mechanisms from gaming to other sectors. This technique is based on the fact that these mechanisms increase one’s motivation. Indeed, the individual is encouraged to make specific actions. But why take inspiration from gaming apparatus? Simply because it triggers positive emotions on the player, gamification : 

  • gives players control over their actions 
  • rewards payers
  • installs a healthy competition between players
  • immerses players in a situation 

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2 – Is gamification really a plus in the learning process?

Unlike traditional techniques, here the whole learning process becomes a game. It is applied at the system level, where the entire educational system is gamified. One example are gaming elements such as badges, rewards or levels that learners reach or collect after completing a specific task or a series of tasks. Those gaming assets modernize professional learning.

To be truly effective, gamification must be designed in a qualitative way. If we take the example of a video game where the only goal is aiming at target and score points in the process, then the individual does not learn much in terms of professional skills. However, if you explain a specific concept through a game, then its design has to be aligned with it in order to effectively convey knowledge. Gamification is not just a way to increase employees’ engagement but rather helps them to find real excitement in learning subject.

3- Is gamification only related to fun?

By definition, it is not. Intrinsically, gamification is based on gaming mechanisms in order to trigger motivation. Entertainment is not the primary goal. The science of motivation behind gamification is what really matters here. Franklin D. Roosevelt, former US President, had already a head start on mobile learning methods: “Tell me and i forget. Teach me and I retain. Get me involved and i am learning”. In a way, the idea is the same. It is so much better to engage learners actively to let effective learning begins. 

4 – What is the benefit of gamification implementation for companies?

In general, the main strategy of companies relies in optimizing their employees’ productivity. And let’s face it, they are sometimes confronted to an almost nonexistent motivation from their workforce. According to a Gallup Survey, only 13% of worldwide employees feel committed to their jobs. This situation emphasizes on a real problem in terms of happiness at work and business yield. Gamification seems to be the fitting solution. In traditional training, employees acquire knowledge, most often on an ad hoc, very spaced out and on site. Information retention is thus highly blocked and in fine, employees’ excellence and performance too. Indeed, traditional educational assets do not give enough power to learners. They have little control over the training situation which therefore can transform business-impactful content in a boring and insignificant exercise. 

With gamification, employees receive constant performance updates as they earn points and ranks, getting the opportunity to catch the eye of colleagues and supervisors. Those dynamic and social aspects of gamified learning are essential components for the employee’s commitment. Employees can now play against their colleagues and test their skills through competition, escalating the wish to excel. Companies such as Spotify or LivingSocial have already replaced certain traditional rewarding practices with gamification in companies, especially thanks to mobile learning. Both enterprises have indicated that 90% of employees voluntarily participate in the programs. 

Using this technique, managers can develop a modernized, more efficient and better-managed workforce. Gamification applied to a business environment improves efficiency and generates a higher return on investment while reducing production costs and customers’ loss. The Lego Serious Play method is a very good example : facilitating in real time, thinking and solving problem.

5- How gamification increases learner engagement ?

Gamification, through mind stimulating activities, releases of endorphins in the individual. Endorphins are neurotransmitters contributing to a feeling of happiness and motivation, especially when a person accomplishes a task successfully. This subtle balance between pleasure and learning strengthens knowledge processing as employees are continually developing specific skills through a pleasant support.

In which domain can gamification be applied ? The answer is : everywhere ! Whether it is in marketing, sales or operations, gamification is an effective solution thanks to psychological characteristics such as taste for challenge, rewards or social recognition.

6- How to recognize effective gamification ?

According to the gamification’s specialist Yu-Kai Chou, introducing gamification into a business is subtle art for it to be effective. The latter must have the right characteristics for that all the effects mentioned above to have a positive outcome. Here are the top action steps to keep in mind when implementing gamification into your business :

  • Target pleasure ; identify the user’s need and satisfaction
  • Create an intrinsically rewarding experience ; 
  • Create an immediate reward within the game ; 
  • Collect players’ personal information in a fun way as they log in for the first time ; 
  • Introduce ranking which would subsequently create competition between the players and increase their performance ; 
  • Organize contests with gift winning
  • Implement shareable content and thus deploy game visibility