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How Gamification Is Changing The Way Companies Engage Employees

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Gamification is the easiest, funnest way to encourage good behavior within the workplace.

To clarify gamification is the process of using gaming elements in non-game situations to make them more fun and engaging.

This isn’t necessarily a new concept, it’s just become more popular as technology gets woven deeper into our lives. For example, the concept of employee of the month has been around for many years. That would qualify as a form of gamification.

The only thing that’s happening now is that because of technology, the way we can reward employees is becoming more advanced. Instead of giving the employee of the month a simple piece of paper for him to hang on his wall, we can now give virtual points that could be redeemable for products.

We can do some pretty cool things, like integrate with Amazon through their API, and have you browse products from their website for you to earn.

Before I explain some best practices on designing a gamification program, I need to explain how much this can help your business.

There are many old school thinking companies that don’t really see the power in gamification, and think that it’s a big waste of time. It’s not.

Gartner expects the gamification industry to become a $5 billion annual market by 2018.

It’s all about how you design the program. Remember that you can incentivize employees to encourage good behaviors, even if it’s things that they don’t necessarily want to do.

But don't’ think that just because you’re giving out points you can now ask them to work unpaid overtime. It’s about striking that nice balance, and making sure everyone in the company is on board, and wants to play these games.

Feel free to include employees in the decision making process, they’ll thank you for it.

I’ll give some examples of companies that are doing great things with gamification to help get you started. This comes from an amazing article in Forbes called How Gamification Is Going To Change The Workplace.

Google and Microsoft have created games to increase worker morale, quality control, and productivity. At Google engineers have been able to spend an in-house currency called “Goobles” on server time—often a scarce resource at Google—or use it to bet on certain outcomes as part of a company-wide predictions market. The search brobdingnagian has also gamified its expense system.

If an employee spends less on an airline ticket than he has been allotted, the savings can be donated to a charity of the worker’s choice.

Microsoft released a game, “Ribbon Hero,” to teach users how to make better use of its Microsoft Office software and has experimented with games in its workplace.

Canon’s repair techies learn their trade by dragging and dropping parts into place on a virtual copier. Cisco has developed a “sim” called myPlanNet, in which players become CEOs of service providers, and adopted gaming strategies to enhance its virtual global sales meeting and call center, lessening call time by 15 percent and improving sales between 8 percent and 12 percent.

IBM created a game that has players run whole cities. L’Oreal created games for recruitment, for gauging the skills of potential employees and helping them discover where in the corporation they would most like to work.

Sun Microsystems has games for employee training. Meanwhile, Japanese automaker Lexus safety tests vehicles in what it brags is the world’s most sophisticated driving simulator at its Toyota research campus in Japan.

FedEx and airlines deploy game simulations to train pilots, and UPS has its own version for new drivers—one even mimics the experience of walking on ice.

In 2010, Carnegie Mellon professor and game designer Jesse Schell gave a talk at a conference called DICE.

I recommend that everyone watch this video. This was the first video I saw about the concept of gamification and it blew my mind. The things that he discusses in this video are so revolutionary, but so possible in the future.

Another video worth watching to learn more is a TED talk called “Gaming can make a better world” by Jane McGonigal

I’d also recommend taking a course from the king of gamification, Gabe Zichermann.

The course costs $49, but trust me, it’s well worth it. It’s actually the only course accredited by the Engagement Alliance to deliver Engagement Expert Certification at the introductory level.

The course is called Designing Gamification Level 1 and it’s on Udemy.

So as the times are changing, be sure you're company is adapting and using the right kind of employee engagement tool that will gamify the office atmosphere.

What are your thoughts on gamification in the workplace?

Let me know in the comments below.

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