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No Time for Games? How to Overcome Four Common Objections to Gamification in the Workplace!

They were small, green, and outwardly not very impressive: In 1896 the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H) started handing out S&H Green Stamps to customers whenever they bought a product. Buyers could redeem these stamps for household goods, appliances, and even cars.

The program quickly became so popular that at its peak 3 billion stamps were issued annually. Customers competed with each other on the number of stamps collected and were encouraged to shop at affiliated businesses. The program also had a goal for customers to collect as many stamps as possible, similar to how a player would complete a level or a quest.

For the first time in history, a company used the principles of gamification to motivate customers, build loyalty, and increase sales.

Fast forward to 2023 and gamification is everywhere. It's in our vocabulary training apps that motivate us with progress bars and leaderboards, it's in the coins we collect for customer rewards programs. It's in our fitness trackers and banking apps.

And it increasingly permeates our work lives. The use cases for gamification in the corporate world are nearly limitless. Gamification can make complicated onboarding processes more efficient, create engaging trainings, increase employee retention, and make mundane and repetitive tasks more enjoyable.

The global gamification market size is projected to reach USD 37.00 billion by 2027 with a growth of almost 25%. Tech's big names, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, invest heavily in gamification and implement the technology to connect with customers and employees alike.

Yet, many people in more traditional industries remain sceptical of the benefit of gamification in the workplace.

Let's take a look at the most common objections to workplace gamification and see whether they are justified or based on false assumptions.

What Is Gamification in the Workplace?

To put it simply, gamification is the use of game design elements (leaderboards, progress bars, reward tokens, avatars, competition) in non-game circumstances.

Gamification in the workplace can be used for:

Employee Training

Gamifying employee trainings can lead to higher completion rates and increased motivation. Imagine you are a software company ready to launch a new product. The product is somewhat complicated. To sell it, your sales team needs to know its ins and outs. However, traditionally, you didn't have much success with your internal trainings. Course-dropping rates were high, and knowledge retention low.

Gamified training increases motivation and knowledge transfer. Friendly competitions through leaderboards, clear goal setting, micro-learning, avatars, and additional support offers make gamified courses and trainings 80% more engaging and significantly more effective.

Employee Recognition and Retention

In 2021 and 2022 the words “Great Resignation” seemed to be everywhere. In the US, an unprecedented 4.5 million people quit their jobs for reasons other than retirement in March 2022. Of course, the reasons for that are various: better-paid offers, a reevaluation of life goals and careers, decreased childcare options, and health.

Whatever the reasons, the Great Resignation is costly for employers. Some experts estimate that it costs a company up to nine months of an employee's salary to replace them.

Investing in employee recognition and retention pays off.

Employers can create a gamified system that connects milestones and achievements to rewards and recognition. Goal tracking, creating spaces for shout-outs and recognition, and tangible and achievable benefits are ways in which gamification can increase employee retention and motivation.

Task Management

Certain jobs require repetitive, dull tasks. Repetitive tasks in manual labour can affect morale and lead to a higher rate of mistakes and injuries. Warehouses have seen an increase in productivity and motivation when using gamification to make mundane tasks more exciting.

Communication and Collaboration

Gamification can be a way to connect employees or divisions that have little to no contact otherwise. By playing with or against each other, for example in a training, employees can collaborate across teams and create new communication opportunities.

Given the obvious advantages of gamification in the workplace, the growth of the sector, and the need to connect with employees and customers in new and innovative ways, why isn't gamification already implemented in every warehouse and office?

Four Objections to Gamification in the Workplace and How to Overcome Them

I Don't Know What Gamification Is All About.

The diversity of gamification can be overwhelming. In essence, gamification is an umbrella term for many different actions and strategies: from simple leaderboards to building complex and immersive worlds where employees can learn by playing sophisticated games.

When implementing gamification elements in your workplace, keep the following in mind:

  • Set clear goals so that employees know what they have to do and why they do it
  • Start simple (f.e. by creating a points system, a progress bar, or even an offline scavenger hunt) to not overwhelm employees
  • Do your research: Gamification is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure that the activities align with your values, goals, and prerequisites. Check out our blog post on best practices in gamification to get you started
  • Build an inclusive environment: Don't only reward the top spot on the leaderboard but create learning opportunities to grow, and reward the whole team

Gamification in the workplace does not have to be complicated. However, if you have never worked with it or implemented gamification designs, it can be a bit daunting to get started.

Level Up Learn teaches you how to implement gamification in your courses through Level Up XP. By following along with our course, you'll become a gamification expert in no time.

Take a look at Level Up Learn here.

Implementing Gamification Is Too Difficult and Expensive.

Gamification is not about creating a World of Warcraft-style adventure for your next training course. Some simple and cost-effective measures such as handing out badges or using micro-lessons to decrease course complexity can already be very effective without breaking the bank.

You also don't need to create new tools or systems to implement gamification. If you are already using Moodle, for example, why not add our Level Up XP plugin to your courses?

Check out Level Up XP here and find out why it's the number one gamification plugin on Moodle.

Gamification in the workplace, when done right and strategically, has a high return on investment. Companies that implemented the technology saw a 72% higher rate of employee motivation. Gamifying customer engagement resulted in a 15% increase in buy clicks. A gamified website can increase visits by more than 100%.

Organisations achieve these milestones with a mixture of relatively simple game designs and more sophisticated features.

If you want to get started implementing gamification into your workplace, you don't have to go all in immediately. Even simple and cheap interventions yield results.

We Have No Idea if Gamification Works or if It's a Waste of Time.

It's all just fun and games, right? Too often we think that because we enjoy doing something, it can't be effective. Playing is seen as a guilty pleasure, as something to do after work to switch off.

However, gamification in the workplace works – seriously. And it can be measured.

Throw a stone and you will hit a statistic claiming how amazing gamification is:

  • A survey found that 85% of employees are more engaged when trainings are gamified
  • A gamified website (f.e. through badges and points) can boost browsing time by up to 30%
  • Almost 50% of businesses saw that clients at events interact most with gamified elements
  • A gamified system for a bank increased their customer acquisition by 700%

However, seeing is believing. If you implement gamification in your workplace, there are several steps you can take to measure the success of your interventions:

  • Surveys and feedback rounds give you data on employee engagement and knowledge retention
  • Turnover rate tracking helps you see if there is a trend in employee retention
  • Smart Goals: define your goals and include them in your gamification strategy. Measure if and how they were achieved and compare them to a control group
  • Metrics such as site visits, engagement, and sales should give you easy insights into the effectiveness of gamification, especially when connected to a non-gamified control group
  • Usage: Monitor if employees or customers use the gamification programs. If not, find out what holds them back, and offer training, if needed

By using some simple success measures, you can see if gamification works for you. The main point is to employ gamification strategically.

Level Up creates a personalised gamification strategy for you and your business to ensure that you meet your goals, your employees are motivated, and that you can reap the full benefits of gamification.

Get in touch with us to speak about your gamification strategy,

I Don't Want to Be Watched by a Gamification Big Brother.

Gamification typically involves some sort of tracking and monitoring. To assign an employee a spot on the leaderboard, you have to access their performances. If a warehouse employee receives reward tokens every time they complete a task, their work has to be monitored and evaluated. This raises serious privacy questions about gamification in the workplace.

Make sure you communicate openly with your employees about which data you are collecting and why. Don't use gamification data to “punish” employees who don't meet their goals but as a way to support them further. With great power comes great responsibility. Use your data wisely and ethically.

If you are implementing third-party software, make sure they are handling sensitive data responsibly. Level Up's products are privacy-friendly and only collect necessary data. Our Moodle plugins are fully GDPR compliant and privacy-friendly.

Google is using gamification to recruit excellent employees, SAP successfully implements the technology in their training programs, Nike creates a gamified community of runners, and the pharmacy giant Bayer connects their blood glucose meter for children with the Nintendo DS™ so that children can easily check their blood sugar levels.

Gamification in the workplace is firmly established among industry leaders as a tool to drive sales, create communities, motivate employees, and educate and entertain. It can do the same for you.

Frédéric Massart
Level Up Team
23 Jan 2023

At Level Up, we create gamification solutions that will set you apart.

Our products provide state-of-the-art gamification elements that easily transform your online courses and programs into gamified adventures. Talk to us about creating a customised gamification solution for you, and let the games begin!

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