Gamification: A Business Imperative

Gamification: A Business Imperative
Summary: This article explores how the power of gamification renders it a business imperative for ensuring organizational success.

61% Of U.S. Firms Now Use The Power Of Gamification...Do You?

Do you ever ask your children to do a chore? When they start dragging their feet, do you ever turn it into a game by timing them? Notice how their excitement immediately increases? Adults are much the same. We respond far more positively to tasks when they’re attached to a challenge, competition, praise, or reward. It’s human nature. Like the proverbial carrot on a stick, extrinsic motivation is highly effective in increasing participation and productivity. Entrepreneur and experience designer Yu-kai Chou says that to successfully gamify an activity, it needs to tap into at least one of eight “core drives” of human motivation:

  • Epic meaning and calling
  • Development and accomplishment
  • Empowerment of creativity and feedback
  • Ownership and possession
  • Social influence and relatedness
  • Scarcity and impatience
  • Unpredictability and curiosity
  • Loss and avoidance

The best businesses tap into this and utilize technology to get more from their employees, or to increase customer engagement. This is known as gamification: the application of game mechanics to everyday activities with the goal of nudging people’s behavior.

Benefits Of Gamification

The power of gamification is clear with 90% of employees stating that gamification makes them more productive at work. On average, employees experience a 48% engagement increase with a gamified work experience. Organizations that incorporate gamification reportedly see profit increases of up to seven times that of their counterparts. The exact effects of gamification are huge. A survey of 500 businesses found that 30% of employees felt increased engagement as a result of gamification. Unsurprisingly, the majority (61%) of U.S. companies now use some form of gamification to help train their people.

Elements Of Gamification

The following five Ps make up the most common game elements seen in successful products:

  1. Purpose
    This instills the sense that you are specially chosen for a quest and are contributing to something larger than yourself. It is often communicated through narrative.
  2. Progress
    This is the indication that you are overcoming obstacles and getting closer to your goal. It often takes the form of points, levels, and progress bars.
  3. Pressure
    There is an urgency to take action, the fear of losing, or the feeling you can’t turn back now. Countdown timers, streaks, and scarce collectibles are all examples of pressure in action.
  4. Position
    This is a way to showcase your accomplishments and draw comparisons with your peers/other players, such as through the use of badges and leaderboards.
  5. Play
    This is the fun element! Pleasure is instilled through such things as customization and exploration.

Gamification links to goals, status, community, education, and rewards, and is used effectively in this way across many fields, such as learning. A great example of this is Duolingo. This app harnesses the power of gamification to teach languages by giving streaks for completing daily lessons and encouragement when required. Streaks are represented by a flame icon, and if the user doesn’t hit their engagement goal for that day, their flame gets extinguished, and their streak eliminated. Many leaders at Duolingo have attributed the app's widespread success to the inclusion and execution of their gamification features.

Potential Pitfalls

The biggest failure when introducing gamification into an organization is poor planning. It’s estimated that 80% of gamification attempts fail to meet an organization's objectives due to:

  • Poor planning
  • Lack of design
  • Lack of creativity
  • Learning not being aligned to meaning/purpose

Learning-as-a-service solutions can be designed with all of this in mind, leveraging gamification and the associated benefits whilst also providing the additional support often needed in a corporate context. They can be designed to promote personal and professional development through eLearning, using animations, quizzes, journal entry points, and links to videos and articles to ensure the platform is engaging and learning is retained. Bespoke services that are fun and informative encourage learning.

Users benefit from real-life scenario examples that are relevant to their course. For example, if a user is taking a leadership course, they might be provided with scenarios that show examples of excellent and poor leadership. Prior to implementation, an L&D specialist can conduct a discovery day within your organization, analyzing current capabilities and strategic objectives. This information can be used to architecturally design learning glide paths for each individual, department, or branch, depending on what’s required. Moreover, there could be the option to have an implementation success manager oversee the rollout of the eLearning platform. All of this helps mitigate the poor planning and design-related issues which typically act as obstacles.


Evidently, gamification is no longer just valuable addition to organizational Learning and Development, but a business imperative. It’s been proven to increase engagement, improve productivity and as a result, bolster profits.

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