10 Surprising Benefits Of Gamification

10 Surprising Benefits Of Gamification
Summary: Gamification isn't just about rapid consumption of microlearning modules or supercharging employee performance. Not even about “fun” style of Pokemon Go. It also has significant effects on corporate culture and workplace design. Here are 10 of the most surprising benefits of gamification.

Surprising Benefits Of Gamification

Even though gamification at work is becoming more and more well known in the world of business, there are still those that perceive it as a simple tool, leveraging competitiveness to motivate employees (it actually doesn't, but rather promotes intrinsic drives, but that is a different story). As I've written in numerous articles over the past few months, this is both an erroneous perception of gamification and of digital motivation. The new and exciting field of enterprise gamification takes a different approach to employee motivation. This approach believes that it is not enough to offer employees points, badges, and leaderboards in order to create a lasting impact in the organization. The reason for this is that these mechanics, though useful and effective in their own right, are based on extrinsic motivation within employees, and this type of motivation is not as sustainable and efficient as other types of motivation, such as intrinsic motivation. Research shows that using game mechanics the instill a sense of meaning, provide a feeling of mastery, promote autonomy, and create super-engagement. In addition, gamification can also be used to influence an organization's culture, communication, and performance management. Since many in the public are less familiar with these advantages of gamification, I thought I'd create a list of all the lesser-known, but highly valuable, results of this practice. Following are 10 surprising benefits of gamification.

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1. Objectivity

Part of implementing gamification is a transition to constant and automatic data collection. This can be data about anything in your organization – sales reps productivity rates, call center employees handling times, internal knowledge usage rates, and more. Although this is many times overlooked, this is in itself extremely valuable. For many organizations, this is the first time they can paint an objective picture of how they are actually doing. This means that employee ratings are no longer based on a manager's mood or the chemistry in a team, but on real, hard data. We've learnt to expect surprises as part of this process. Almost every organization that undergoes this transition is surprised to find that what they thought was happening is not quite accurate and sometimes even fairly far from reality.

2. Gamification And Objectivity Make Managers' Lives Easier

Objective data is a blessing for managers as well. They can also finally see in an unbiased and objective way, how their different employees are performing, eliminating the need for guesswork and assumptions. It's amazing to discover that much of the data in performance reviews is not objective.

3. Feedback

Gamification is a great way for employees to receive constant, up to date, and automatic feedback. By using leaderboards of different kinds, it is possible for employees to see how they are doing compared to benchmarks they had set for themselves in the past, or compared to other individuals and teams in the organization. Of course, it's always also possible to revert to the "classic" leaderboard that so many are familiar with. However, we have actually found that using these more advanced leaderboards brings on greater results and productivity. Feedback is one of the most important elements of gamification, as it allows users to constantly understand how they are doing and what they can do improve.

4. Recognition

Research has found that status at the workplace is just as important to employees as financial rewards. In other words, it is important to all of us to feel that we are doing a good job, and that this is being recognized by our managers. Gamification is a great way to see who is performing especially well, who has made huge progress in comparison to themselves, and who may have drifted off and might need a bit of a wake-up call. The real beauty is that it's all done automatically, and therefore it is super easy for managers to use.

5. Mastery

One of the reasons that the human race has always loved playing games is the possibility to improve. The feeling of developing a certain skill is one of the most important aspects of fulfillment and well-being at the workplace. Gamification allows us to learn new things, and see how they are becoming easier and easier as time goes by. Before we know it, what used to be extremely challenging is now done easily, with almost no effort at all. This is what researchers at the university of Chicago have called "flow", and it turns out to be an important factor in employee well-being.

6. Motivation For All

When gamification is executed correctly, there really is something for everyone. Working against personal benchmarks, being recognized for a job well-done, offering training narratives – gamification really can cater to everyone's needs in the organization. Together with the ability to view feedback at any given time, gamification allows everyone, and not only those at the top of leaderboard, to enjoy the possibility of improving their performance.

7. What's Next?

One of the most surprising benefits of gamification is that it is a great way to communicate to employees what is expected of them next. Whether utilized as part of the onboarding process, the internal learning system, or the project management system, gamification offers a simple way to communicate what the next stage is. For some examples of how to show what's next through a "Next Best Action" functionality, read here.

8. Autonomy

Gamification should not feel like it is mandatory. A good platform is one that emphasizes that taking part in the game is voluntary. We’ve found that giving employees the power to choose for themselves how they would like to utilize gamification instills a sense of autonomy and choice. We believe that creating a host of options and allowing users to engage as they please creates deeper and more meaningful engagement and motivation.

9. Training

A recent survey has shown that Millennials rank training and learning as the most important benefit a workplace can offer. Organizations understand this, and more and more are offering their employees different personal and professional development routes. Organizations are now also able to do this like never before, using eLearning platforms that are cost effective, and that can be integrated in to other aspects of work. Through different mechanics such as quizzes and simulations, this type of learning is also more engaging and more enjoyable. Finally, eLearning also allows employers to easily measure how their employees are doing and progressing in the learning process.

10. Balancing It Out

Many employees are required to perform different tasks which many times can involve conflicting expectations. For example, a customer service representative needs to resolve issues fast, but also receive a high customer satisfaction rate. Using gamification, it is possible to track many different elements and balance them. An employee can see that they are relatively fast, but have a problem with how satisfied customers are once they get off the phone with them. Seeing many KPI's at the same time can help employees get a snapshot of how they are doing overall, and alter what needs to be changed.