Motivating your team consistently throughout the year can be one of the most difficult elements of being a manager. But could gamification hold the answer or is it just the latest fad?
The principles behind gamification in business focus on encouraging employees to change their behaviors by engaging them in fun and creative schemes. The rise of social media, apps, and big data has made gamification much easier for many businesses to implement, whether for recruitment purposes or professional development.
But can it really help you boost employee productivity?
Increases value and recognition
The most valuable employees aren't always the ones you have the best working relationships with. If you have introverted people on your team, or even just members who work from home, it can be easy for them to get left behind when it comes to promotions and development.
Gamification, as long as it's user-friendly, gives everyone the same opportunity to succeed and be rewarded for their contribution. As a manager, this not only helps you see where your talent lies on the team but employees are more likely to be productive if they feel their efforts are being recognized.
A key element of gamification is the incentives it offers employees to complete certain tasks. This doesn't always have to be financial, though they can prove quite effective, but any reward can motivate employees. The psychology behind gamification relies on regular positive feedback – points, badges – to track an employee's progression and promote long-term engagement.
Employees who struggle most with productivity can benefit enormously from gamification principles, as they focus on rewarding certain behaviors and ignoring others. For companies, this can be an effective way to onboard professionals that are new to the business and have them adopt your company's style of doing things straight away.
Managers can also benefit from the way gamification allows employees who feel "outside" of the team to get involved. This can be physically, as in they work in a different location, or people that have become emotionally withdrawn and disengaged from the business. Because it works with a very simple approach at its heart (do X and you'll get Y), it's easy for employees to see how small behavior changes will get rewards and instant gratification.
Mandatory fun is no fun
A key element of gamification success is to ensure everyone can choose whether or not to take part. Forcing employees to do something "fun" will take all the motivation out of it, especially among people who already feel disengaged with work.
It's also important to use it sparingly and in the right areas. If someone's entire day is gamified, it will soon become as mundane as the tasks you're trying to make more enjoyable. More and more companies are using it to track the performance of their employees, monitoring their success and encouraging productivity among their workforce, but it's important that you find a way for it to suit your team and support them.