Why Gamification isn’t just a fad
Whether or not most people realize it (or want to recognize it) games play an integral role in our lives. Sure, gaming can be something people do to break away from responsibilities or more serious tasks, but don’t most jobs (already) demand employees adopt a “game-like” mentality? In all reality, any activity which incorporates a goal with obstacles (and perhaps a time limit; like the length of your work day, for example) is technically a game, right? It seems that the main difference between what is considered to be “work” and “gaming” is whether or not it is in any way “fun” or enjoyable. For instance, just think about someone who really loves their job, the traditional meaning of the term “work” hardly applies to them.
Recently we’ve seen a big push from larger organizations and businesses to incorporate Gamification elements into their overall strategies. At first the concept was to use Gamification to entice consumers (which is still very useful), but now we’re seeing similar techniques being deployed to motivate and engage employees as well. Some people assume that Gamification is some kind of new-age version of the corporate model (and perhaps work in general), but the truth is that it’s much more of a “holistic” approach. According to Merriam-Webster online, the term “holistic” pertains to a medical approach which is concerned with treating all aspects of patient’s systems instead of just individual parts.
If we apply the same type of (holistic) thinking to employees and their respective careers, it’s clear that there are many different elements involved in maintaining a productive worker. In other words, miserable employees are probably going to be a lot less productive than those who are happy or merely satisfied. So, it is really in a company’s best interests (both in the long and short-term) to find new ways to utilize Gamification since it has been shown to directly improve the attitudes and capabilities of the average employee.
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However, there is something to be said about overtly complex or ineffective methods of applying Gamification. For instance, if an organization was forcibly applying Gamification in some way (visualize a Monty Python-esque skit where employees are “forced” to have fun…or else) its overall effectiveness would drop significantly. Basically, Gamification should be utilized in a way that entices and rewards workers, not to subject them to additional “controls”.
Gamification is more-or-less an evolution of the natural tendencies of the workplace. Likewise, it is perhaps an attempt to find new ways to engage the abilities and hidden motivations that employees might be harboring. When it works correctly (or is applied in a suitable manner) Gamification is able to create a bonding effect on personnel. Additionally, fresh incentives usually help to foster a new creative drive within a business. Over time, employees might be able to better visualize how their work fits into the big picture; and through Gamification, those that are more apt to achieve / succeed will be more greatly rewarded. Simply put, it’s a trade-off; the organization puts forth more potential rewards in exchange for added productivity, creativity and stability (a win-win situation).
The “fun factor” of Gamification is what (hopefully) keeps bringing people back to it. Shouldn’t employees be presented with project goals which are both amusing and provide them with a specific “target” to aim for? After all, one can easily lose focus when there is no short-term goal in place to shoot for. Ask yourself this; what’s better, a series of engaging and entertaining goals, or a seemingly endless barrage of repetitive activities? Through Gamification, employees are also able to personally gauge their own progress as well, which helps to reinforce the concept of achievement.
In reality, Gamification is merely an attempt to apply new technologies (apps, cloud services or software) to reinforce the psychological drivers of the workplace. The hope is that, all employees will become more proactive in their daily duties. Likewise, through increased contribution, perhaps the average worker will also become more knowledgeable with regards to the larger goals of their employer. In this way, Gamification in the workplace isn’t so much “an entirely new approach” as it is an adaptation of elements which have always been present. Furthermore, Gamification can also bee seen as a way to get employees to “become their own boss”, which might help to spur company growth, starting with individuals of course. However, on the lighter side, it can also be used as a simple motivator. That’s the great thing about Gamification; you can apply it in various ways.