Gamification puts the ‘fun’ back into function and helps managers motivate employees to tackle boring tasks.

I love my job. But I hate keeping records and doing bookkeeping. Logging my hours seems like such a chore, even though I won’t get paid if I don’t report them. I’m not alone; workers all over the world dislike the administrative tasks associated with our jobs. In addition to the ones already mentioned, the list can also include following up on emails, keeping in touch with old clients, summarizing meeting notes for a team, and attending those exciting mandatory training meetings. These non-engaging, repetitive chores are a dull, but necessary, evil, and they can be the bane of HR staff and managers who need to motivate staff to complete these tasks on time.

Human engagement is based on meaning

People need to feel that there is a point to a task, and there must be some way to incentivize an employee and make tasks meaningful in order to motivate. One way corporations are overcoming the procrastination factor is by utilizing the same motivational tricks video game designers use. These methods are called gamification, which describes the implementation of game design elements in real-world contexts for non-gaming purposes. By using gamification, HR’s and managers alike can foster team building, cooperation, engagement, and optimization by addressing the psychological needs of their employees

How to address those needs is partly dependent on understanding something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow, an American psychologist, identified a list of human needs that should be addressed and fulfilled sequentially if an individual is to become self-actualised or complete. The hierarchy begins with physiological needs at the bottom, and ascends up the scale to security, belongingness, esteem, and, finally, self-actualisation.

But Daniel Pink, in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, hypothesized that modern society is more motivated by intrinsic motivators once they pass the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Those motivators are:

  • Purpose, in which an individual must feel they are engaged in something purposeful and meaningful;
  • Autonomy, wherein one must feel free to choose one’s own life and not be overly restrained by external factors;
  • Mastery, wherein an individual must feel they are actively improving at something that has meaning to them and furthers their objectives.

These three needs are what game designers had in mind when developing their applications. Zynga, for example, realized that majority of the population have the gaming personality of a socializer and need a sense of belonging. They created FarmVille to address the socializer’s need for social cohesion and acceptance. Status, achievements, ranks and reputation are some of the most commonly used game mechanics, but they are really nothing more than ‘esteem in disguise’.

Define objectives

The key to delivering this disguised esteem is to define objectives, target a shared or aligned goal, and utilize gamification to foster acceptance, team building, morale, and inclusion. HRs can utilize gamification in hiring, training and mentoring programs by offering job candidates an interactive experience during the hiring process. Gamification is also useful in developing methods for time management.

Sales teams can use motivational tools such as leaderboards with game-style graphics. Novartis, for example, uses leaderboards with ‘scaffolded’ learning that rely on progressively more difficult levels and storytelling in order to make the sales experience meaningful.

Gamification improves HR management

Gamification can also improve HR management by helping them improve talent acquisition and management as well as increasing onboarding efficiency by offering incentives and tangible perks throughout the application-to-hire process. Rewarding top recruiters and incentivizing employees to refer candidates is another method. Employees can also be motivated to complete tasks like mandatory HR training in topics such as sexual harassment and diversity sensitivity by offering some reward or recognition for participation in or for completing these tasks (think ‘quests’ in gamer terms) in a timely manner. This allows HR to ensure compliance without having to spend a lot of time trying to cajole employees into completing mandatory training.

10-15% increase in significant engagement

And while it might seem, since much of the workforce is comprised of millennials (those born since 1980), that gamification should come naturally to the generation that grew up with PlayStations and Angry Birds, older adults take to game-based techniques just as easily as the millennials who have grown up playing Call of Duty. Reports show that Baby-boomers also show a 10-15% increase in significant engagement with collaboration and staff morale.

Finally, in an ever-increasing global workplace where team members can be in more than one remote location, gamification can be a valuable tool for keeping remote collaborations on track. Using applications such as Slack allows employees to communicate effectively while enjoying a gamified interface.

Sources: Motivationsgame, ComputerWeekly

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash