According to a 2015 Gallup poll, only 31.5% of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs—less than one-half. The good news is, gamification has gone mainstream, and the trend is moving upward as Millennials are becoming a more dominant force in the workplace. In 2030, they will count for 75% of the workforce.
Gamification is the future of business management and employee engagement—not just a temporary fad. The gamification industry is forecasted to reach $11 billion by 2020.
In this article, we’ll discuss the brief history of gamification, how it works with our brain, its benefits in the workplace, best practices, and several productivity apps to try.
The term “gamification” was coined by Nick Pelling, a British programmer and video game designer, and was made popular in 2010. It refers to the process of turning a task into a game or something with qualities of a game. The spelling was “gameification,” which changed over time to what we know today. The underlying concept was also known as “funware,” which was coined by Gabe Zichermann, to refer to fun activities with a purpose at the workplace.
Gamification increases four essential neurotransmitters, which make you feel good, work faster, and remain motivated: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. When feeling motivated, such as by receiving a game badge, your brain would release dopamine. Released oxytocin would pleasure us and makes us bond with others. Serotonin is mood regulator, which is released when you achieve something, thus increasing morale.
And endorphins are natural opioids that make you feel euphoric and reduce pain and fatigue in response to stress. Endorphins are invaluable to keep you motivated and be willing to push through.
Badgeville, a player in business gamification, released the results of a survey of over 500 business worker respondents, ranging from top management to entry-level workers, which showed that out of 78% workers who used games-based motivation at work, 91% of those showed work improvements by increasing engagement, awareness, and productivity. Gamification also increased employee morale, reduced distractions, increased productivity, and combatted low retention.
Companies like PayPal, eBay, LinkedIn, Epic Games, Microsoft, and Zappos have incorporated gamification in their workplace. They used badges for reaching levels, reputation points, expert statuses, and goals and achievements within the users’ online community. When working is fun, it becomes engaging and motivating, which naturally increases the bottom line.
The U.S. Army also uses this method. Specifically, a game named (what else) “America’s Army” is used to train cadets for team-based combat. It is also used in attracting recruits, which has been very successful.
At Microsoft, the management entices employees to beta test a new version of the Windows operating system. In the beginning, most employees were reluctant. But as soon as it was gamified, the volunteer participation quadrupled. This is how it went: Volunteers tested the new software, which was turned into a Hangman game. Once the tasks were completed, the player received B-E-T-A letters.
Now, Microsoft offers the app Microsoft Dynamics 365 to gamify any business and task, so you can adapt how Bill Gates’ company maintains company morale and productivity. This workplace gamification app is available from Appsource.Microsoft.com.
Several other productivity gamification apps worth testing are: Habitica, Epic Win, and Forest. Habitica would improve your habits by gamifying your tasks into little monsters to conquer. Epic Win is a to-do list to conquer, and each earned point can be used to level up the character. Forest makes you stay focused by planting a seed, which will grow when you’re working and become a full-grown tree when the 30-minute task is completed.
At last, a corporate trainer can introduce gamification to the management with a presentation on data-driven benefits. With many free (during the trial period) and low-cost apps, gamification is a cost-efficient way to increase productivity and overall employee morale. After all, when work is fun, neurotransmitters kick in, and people work more happily and productively, which benefits all stakeholders.