Playing games at work would have once been cause for a warning, but a new theory turns those old notions upside down – and it’s quickly gaining momentum.
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 elements of gaming that can be used in HR strategy:
Level ascension through skills-based learning, demonstrating skills, taking tests and completing challenges
Gathering virtual goods, like stars on a leader board
Avatar programs – encouraging online employee profiles and presence in a way similar to social media
Live feeds to continuously update staff on others’ achievements and progression
Points gathering – points may take on a value eg organisations can donate money to charities based on points
Employee rewards based on progress
Thompson previously told HC that whether the goal is to improve company morale, facilitate internal communications, or deliver professional training, gamification may spark a competitive business edge and foster learning and development, and that gamification strategies can energise employees and create 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 says. He explained that games are structured in a way that makes people feel motivated, powerful and successful when they achieve, and 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”.