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9 Powerful Employee Gamification Strategies in 2024 to Boost Employee Engagement

Gregory S Mathew

Last Updated: 14 February 2023

In this article:

From having virtual meetings over Zoom to water cooler conversations on Houseparty, Covid-19 has forced millions to work and connect from the confines of their homes. We’ve all heard about the difficulties of a quick change to work from home culture. What about the employees who don’t have conducive work environments? Or those who relied on daily human interaction to drive them forward at work and in their own lives? With such a disruptive event we’d assume that most employees would be miserable, right? But guess what? The data might just surprise you!

Studies have suggested that many employees who work from home will end up outperforming their in office efforts for a variety of reasons. First, many employees may end up being more productive due to factors including lack of commute, their ability to create a comfortable working space, and a shift towards a result based culture rather than hours logged that is necessitated by distance.

These factors can actually lead to a positive impact on mental and physical health, because who enjoys wasting two hours a day in traffic, or only seeing their family for a few hours a day?

However, these studies weren't conducted while there was an on-going pandemic that has added new wrinkles and generalized anxieties to the equation. While working from home can be a boon, it comes with downsides like employees working longer hours at a more intense pace due to a lack of delineation between work and home. This in turn has caused significant stress in the lives of employees at companies big and small.

As a means to break up repetitive work and make sure employees feel acknowledged and appreciated, implementing elements of games into work is a shot in the arm your employees might need. What does this mean?

What is Employee Gamification? 

Ever wondered how games manage to keep us hooked, motivated, and striving for that next level? That's the power of gamification, the art of applying game-like elements and principles in non-game contexts. In the workplace, gamification translates to using those same engaging elements to motivate employees, boost engagement, and encourage desired behaviors.

Here's the gist:

  • Points, badges, and leaderboards: Imagine earning points for completing tasks, receiving badges for achieving milestones, and seeing your name climb a leaderboard – all while working. Gamification fosters a sense of achievement and healthy competition, making work intrinsically more rewarding.

  • Progress and challenges: Breaking down large goals into smaller, achievable challenges creates a sense of progress and keeps employees motivated. They can visualize their journey and celebrate each milestone, just like conquering levels in a game.

  • Rewards and recognition: Gamification isn't all about competition; it's also about rewarding desired behaviors. Just as games offer rewards for completing tasks, gamified workplaces can incentivize employees with tangible or intangible rewards, further reinforcing positive engagement.

Remember, gamification isn't about turning work into a game, but rather about extracting the engaging and motivating elements of games and applying them to the workplace in a strategic and well-designed way.

Adding fun rewards, friendly competition, and targeted goals is a great way to get your employees excited to walk in the front door every day. Playing up and harnessing our natural instinct to compete is an awesome way to boost morale, and performance as well!  In fact, research suggests that over 90% of employees are more productive when gamification techniques are applied, with over 72% of them reporting it inspires them to work harder. Fun and games can be more than just fun and games if done right!

Gamification for Employee Engagement: Why It Works

Gamification has the potential to stimulate stagnated minds and rekindle that vital spark so important for the workplace. Organisations can engage and motivate employees to pick up new skills, improve workplace behaviour, and devise new ways of problem-solving. 

Gamification techniques use positive reinforcement to motivate employees. By breaking down large tasks into more manageable chunks, gamification stimulates the neural pathways to learn over time, and:

  • It builds team spirit and brings in a sense of healthy competition.
  • It allows employees to think outside the box and find novel solutions to existing problems.
  • It improves the feedback system and provides real-time appraisals that allow employees to assess themselves.

Here's how employees experience the power of gamification:

  • Increased Motivation: Gamification breaks down complex tasks into smaller, achievable challenges. Completing these challenges earns employees points, badges, or recognition on leaderboards. This fosters a sense of progress and accomplishment, making work inherently more motivating.

  • Enhanced Engagement: Gamified elements like points, badges, and leaderboards create a healthy sense of competition among colleagues. This friendly competition fosters engagement by encouraging employees to actively participate and strive for improvement.

  • Meaningful Recognition: Gamification goes beyond simply earning points. It offers opportunities for public recognition and reward for achieving milestones or demonstrating desired behaviors. This recognition reinforces positive behavior and makes employees feel valued and appreciated.

  • Personalized Experience: Effective gamification isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Businesses can tailor the experience to cater to different employee preferences and motivations. This personalization allows employees to connect with the gamified elements and feel intrinsically motivated to participate.

  • Fun and Enjoyable Work: Gamification injects elements of fun and enjoyment into the workplace. It transforms mundane tasks into engaging challenges, making the overall work experience more positive and fulfilling for employees.

By leveraging these aspects, gamification can create a more motivated, engaged, and satisfied workforce, ultimately leading to improved performance and a stronger company culture.

All of these can be massive drivers of productivity and creativity in any organization. Encouraging your employees to throw conventional wisdom out the window can lead to huge rewards. How many amazing inventions have been the product of creative thought? You’d be handcuffing yourself if you didn’t encourage that type of thinking.

And this is only the tip of the gamification iceberg. We’ve got 9 great ways to get your employees engaged through gamification starting today.

9 Employee Gamification Strategies to Boost Employee Morale

1. Divide And Conquer

For any task that can be modularised, divide the work into independent chunks and engage competing teams to get the job done. This will have the desired effect of inducing employees to a competitive work ethic. By fostering fun competition both within teams and between functions you encourage employees to drive themselves to be the best they can be.

For example, our sales and marketing team decided to take on the CEO’s office for the largest amount of funds raised in a dedicated. Let’s not talk about who won.... Okay, okay, it wasn’t us! But we had a great time doing it.

PRO TIP: create a Slack channel, Google sheet, Notion Doc, Trello Board, JIRA workflow, or any other progress tracking software so your competing employees can get real time updates on the other team. Nothing like looking up at a scoreboard you’re losing on to help get yourself in gear!

2. Leveling Up

Training new recruits can often be a big challenge, but gamification can help in this regard. Rather than bogging down new employees with months of uninteractive and complicated onboarding (a key reason 31% of employees quit in the first six months) an entire training program can be broken down into multiple levels. As employees complete each level, they can then be rewarded for progressing to the next. In turn, new recruits are substantially more likely to get invested in the training process and allows them to pick up new skills.

Getting them up to speed quicker also means you’re getting better ROI from the onboarding process as you’re not wasting valuable work hours bringing someone up to speed slowly.

A great example of this technique can be found in an implementation done by Salesforce. They have created a Gamification system where sales personnel begin using the system at the lowest levels of Chicken Hunter, and eventually level up towards the coveted title of Big Game Hunter.

PRO TIP: Give your levels of progression quirky names, and build to a big reward. It’s not about the amount of money you spend, but more the thought and effort that go into what the employees receive when they rank through the process.

3. Rewards Galore

Everybody loves a gift, and demoralized employees can actually perk up once you give them the chance to win. Introducing a reward-based system that recognizes achievements will have the desired effect of getting employees back in the game (pun intended).

Take the case of Freshdesk which turns customer enquiries into tickets that are randomly assigned to employees for resolution. This morphs the entire call-receiving process into a game. By providing recognition and incentives to employees who perform well, Freshdesk has managed to increase engagement successfully.

PRO TIP: Try to balance between useful, fun gifts and gifts that could in fact help employees actualize and improve in their roles. Maybe after the first milestone you give them some of their favorite candy, and after the second you give them a copy of the CEO’s favorite book with a personalized note from them.

4. Weekly Quizzes

Meetings can get a little monotonous. The less interactive, the more monotonous a meeting can become. Turn meetings into quizzes. Engage everyone in the game, and see who is the most up to date on work matters.

Set a prize or even a cash incentive for the best performer. Soon you'll find employees looking forward to the next meeting. And this ends up fostering some healthy competition and keeps everyone well prepared.

PRO TIP: Awesome quiz services and online collaborative games like Kahoot and skribbl.io are free, easy to use, and can help to bring a team together in unexpected ways! You might just have an amateur Picasso on your team you never knew about. 

5. Social Recognition 

Now that we are dispersed across the world, utilize social media for publicly recognizing employee achievements.

Reward them with a place of special mention on the company page, tag top performers in a Facebook post, and celebrate achievements on LinkedIn. Soon you'll find employees scrolling through to that time of the month again.

Bluewolf achieved maximum employee engagement on social using a gamification-based social media engagement program called #GoingSocial.

PRO TIP: Acknowledging successful employees online not only makes them feel special but also makes their connections, or other job seekers, aware of how well your organization treats high performers. A high NPS makes hiring easier, so leverage your social media presence to help both attract and retain top talent.

6. Upskilling

In the current business scenario, employees need to upskill fast or be left behind. However, it has been generally seen that employees aren't always keen on learning new skills. By gamifying upskilling processes, businesses can drive better employee participation.

Deloitte infused gamification principles to ensure that employees register and complete courses within the Deloitte Leadership Academy program.

PRO TIP: There are so many great remote learning websites, and enrolling your employee in a course that they’re passionate about shows that you pay attention to what they enjoy or are interested in. Plus, they then bring back their learnings to the company and can in turn expand their role.

7. Conversations Always Helps 

Communication is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement. Unless HR managers take the time to establish coherent communication channels that answer employee queries satisfactorily, morale is bound to lag.

By using chatbots to create an employee engagement platform, HR managers can free themselves for other tasks that need immediate attention. And employees can get the help they need, whenever and whichever way they want it.

PRO TIP: If employees don’t feel listened to they will leave, full stop. Getting the right tool, or creating strong channels for feedback and two-way communication will help you keep the employees you can’t afford to lose.

8. Make Work Mission-Based

Team building is one of the major benefits of Gamification, and this can be best fostered through actual team-based exercises. When assigning work, pit teams in a friendly competition that encourages better performance. 

Don't assign teams to projects; assign them to missions that need to be completed in time. By making work mission-based, you instill a sense of adventure in every piece of work.

PRO TIP: Shoot for the stars with these mission goals. Creating a north star, or “dream” objective for an organization can encourage your employees to think outside the box and jumpstart processes that you may have never considered.

9. Leaderboard

A leaderboard is a ranking system that displays the top performers in a team or organization. To implement this strategy, you can create a scoreboard that displays the names of employees who have achieved their goals or completed their tasks in the shortest time. You can also award points or rewards to employees who perform well on the leaderboard.

5 Engaging Employee Gamification Examples for Your Workplace

1. Sales Leaderboard: Imagine a dynamic leaderboard showcasing top performers in sales. Each sale earns points, and the top salesperson clinches the coveted "Sales Champion" badge. This fosters healthy competition and motivates everyone to push their limits.

2. Customer Service Challenge: Introduce a points system for exceeding customer satisfaction benchmarks. Employees could earn badges for positive customer reviews or resolving complex issues efficiently. This gamifies excellent customer service and reinforces desired behavior.

3. Learning & Development Quest: Transform skill development into an engaging quest. Employees embark on a learning journey, earning points for completing online courses or attending workshops. Reaching milestones unlocks badges like "Tech Guru" or "Innovation Master," fostering a culture of continuous learning.

4. Wellness & Wellbeing Program: Encourage healthy habits with a gamified wellness program. Employees earn points for participating in fitness challenges, logging healthy meals, or completing mindfulness exercises. A leaderboard showcasing the "Fitness Fanatics" team adds a fun twist.

5. Project Collaboration Adventure: Gamify teamwork by turning project collaboration into an immersive "adventure." Teams work together to overcome challenges, collect virtual resources, and unlock rewards based on achieving project milestones. This fosters collaboration, communication, and a sense of shared accomplishment.

Remember, successful gamification requires careful planning and alignment with your company culture. By incorporating these engaging examples and tailoring them to your specific needs, you can unlock a new level of employee engagement and drive organizational success.

Does Gamification for Engagement Actually Work?

While employee engagement gamification strategies can be effective in promoting teamwork and motivation, they can also have some negative side effects if not implemented properly. Some potential negative side effects of gamification strategies include:

Competition: Gamification strategies that involve leaderboards or competitions may create a sense of competition among employees, which can lead to unhealthy rivalry and resentment.

Burnout: Gamification strategies that focus on constantly meeting targets or goals may lead to employees feeling overwhelmed and stressed, resulting in burnout.

Short-term focus: Gamification strategies that focus on rewards and incentives may lead to employees prioritizing short-term goals over long-term goals and overall organizational goals.

To prepare for these potential negative side effects, it's important to ensure that gamification strategies are designed in a way that promotes teamwork and collaboration rather than competition. It's also important to ensure that employees have the necessary resources and support to achieve their goals without feeling overwhelmed. Finally, it's important to regularly review and assess the effectiveness of gamification strategies to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the organization and its employees.

Here are a few examples of large enterprises that have successfully implemented employee engagement gamification strategies:

  1. SAP: SAP, a multinational software corporation, implemented a gamification platform called "SAP Jam Collaboration" to improve employee engagement and productivity. The platform includes features such as leaderboards, challenges, and rewards to motivate employees to achieve their goals. As a result of the platform, SAP saw a 20% increase in employee engagement and a 15% increase in productivity.

  2. Deloitte: Deloitte, a multinational professional services firm, implemented a gamification platform called "Deloitte Gamification" to improve employee engagement and development. The platform includes features such as progress bars, badges, and rewards to encourage employees to learn new skills and achieve their goals. As a result of the platform, Deloitte saw a 25% increase in employee engagement and a 20% increase in productivity.

  3. IBM: IBM, a multinational technology company, implemented a gamification platform called "IBM Verse" to improve employee communication and collaboration. The platform includes features such as leaderboards, challenges, and rewards to encourage employees to work together and achieve their goals. As a result of the platform, IBM saw a 15% increase in employee engagement and a 10% increase in productivity.

It's important to note that the success of employee engagement gamification strategies can vary depending on the specific goals and needs of the organization and its employees. It's important to carefully design and implement gamification strategies to ensure that they are effective and engaging for employees.

Gamification at Work: You Can’t Afford Not To!

Something that seemed trivial in short-term has been significantly important for long-term productivity. 

Could we have achieved the same level of engagement if we had sent an email instead of holding a competition? Most definitely not and it wouldn't have been as fun for sure! So implement gamification techniques today and watch morale go through the roof.

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