by Marciej Markowski, Partner, Head of Workplace Strategy
Last summer the unexpected happened, no one saw it coming, least of all her. Handbag in one hand, iPhone clutched in the other, trying to navigate the uneven cobbled streets of London in heels. She was on a mission. Yes, she was catching Pokémon. All summer long. As a kid she had little interest in Pikachu and his friends, but startlingly as an adult Pokémon Go! had gripped her. Nonetheless she was not ashamed. The game increased her daily step count, helped her to get to know the local neighborhood and more pertinently, allowed her to connect with other players at the office. For the first time in her life, she had become a “gamer” and the thrill was real.
Gamification is not just changing the way we live and interact with our nearby surroundings, but for organizations is becoming a key driver for engaging people in the workplace. Innovative organizations are already reaping the rewards and its evident that the future of the workplace will be influenced by gamification. Traditionally, the workplace is the last place you should play games (yes, we’re looking at you solitaire players). However, forward-thinking organizations have introduced table tennis or foosball for employees to relax, get away from work and socialize with colleagues. But imagine if you had to play games to get work done? The term “work hard, play harder” would gain a whole new meaning.
What Is Gamification?
Gamification is the application of game-like elements such as points, leaderboards and badges to engage and motivate people to reach a specific goal. The concept is not new – think frequent flyer programs and loyalty cards. However, gamification in the workplace is a fairly recent concept. As such, organizations are only just getting the ball rolling. The advancements of mobile, social and location based tech services have been key drivers in the rise of Gamification, yet Gartner also highlights research that shows 43% believe this is just a trend.
Game On: Why Is Gamification So Important?
Today’s kids are no stranger to the world of gaming. The education sector is rapidly adopting gamification to make learning more engaging and relevant to the young generations. As a result, this is influencing the way people want and expect to work within the workplace now and in the years to come. Therefore, employers would be prudent to adopt these methods to ensure a smooth transition from education to the workplace. Gallup highlights that the millennial perennial gamer will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, yet they are the most disengaged group at work. However it is not only millennials who are disengaged – in total, only 35.5% of people are engaged with their work.
Research shows that when people are carrying out a task, particularly one that is interesting or enjoyable, they are less motivated by financial reward. This means that a virtual star – as counter-intuitive as this sounds – could be a stronger incentive than a cash
Without going into the scientific details of dopamine, we know that winning makes us feel good. In fact, sometimes intrinsic rewards are more effective in motivating and engaging people. Intrinsic motivators might be individual achievement or aspirations, self-esteem,
social respect and admiration, working towards common goals or simply having fun. Thus
gamification provides a key source of motivation where financial reward (an extrinsic motivator) cannot reach.