Work is a game, didn’t you know?

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Playing games at work would have once been cause for a warning, but there’s a new theory that turns those old notions upside down –  and it’s quickly gaining speed in the HR space.

The process is known as ‘gamification’ and the concept is quite simple – harness the enthusiasm people have for virtual gaming by implementing the same themes into the workplace.

Ben Thompson, CEO Power2Motivate, an organisation specialising in solutions for employee recognition, rewards and training, outlined the following examples of gaming techniques for use in HR strategy:

  • Level ascension through skills based learning, demonstrating skills, taking tests and completing challenges

  • Gathering virtual goods

  • Avatar programs – encouraging online employee profiles and presence 

  • Leaderboards – may include a live feed to constantly update staff on others’ achievements and progression

  • Points gathering – points may take on a value with organisations donating money to charities based on points etc.

  • Employee rewards based on progress

Thompson told HRM Online that he encourages gamification skeptics to firstly consider the image of a child playing a game, and the enthusiasm it inspires.

Whether the goal is to improve company morale, facilitate internal communications, or deliver professional training, gamification is at the cutting edge of sparking a competitive business edge and fostering learning and development within an organisation.

He said that  gamification strategies can energize employees and foster an atmosphere of progress because they can monitor their own performance.

Aaron Dignan is the author of Game Frame, a book which explores why people are motivated to play games and how businesses can use game mechanics and behavioural tricks to engage employees and customers.

“[Playing games] feels more important to a person than completing their expense report at work because of the way the game system is structured,” Dignan wrote.

He explained that games are structured in a way that makes people feel motivated, powerful and successful when they achieve.

“At work we have that constant struggle with what's powerful and important and special about what we're doing - so that's why people rush home to get on their video game because they frankly feel like a more recognized and substantive member of society,” Dignan explained.

HR departments willing to reconfigure roles and processes so they may tap into the addictive power of games, will in effect be sprinkling “magic engagement dust around the workplace to transform dull disengagement into glittering possibility and purpose, or turn a bland product into a living and breathing social phenomenon”, Dignan wrote.

-Stephanie Zillman

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