Gamification for business

­ “Employees’ engagement has evolved from money oriented approaches (pay-check, bonus, promotion) to a complex and diverse approach based on intrinsic motivational theory (mastery, autonomy, purpose)”

A current trend on supporting user engagement is gamification. Gamification is a concept of using game mechanics to non-game environments to create an engagement process to allow users to obtain higher perceived value of service use, such as social interaction or productivity of actions.

The game mechanics are closely related to game design addressing the human motivators of socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement and status. Gamification, deriving from game design, has the same underlying goal:

Generate positive experiences for the players/users engaged in an activity where interactive play is also referred to as “gameplay” focuses on the process of use, rather on the results of the process

The psychological aspects of gaming, i.e the user experience (UX) and the game mechanics are the tools for structuring and providing the gameplay, and comprise of rules, defined behaviour and user actions.

At present, the maximum impact of gamification has been on education and health environments. However, the gamification strategy is a concept emerging in business processes, and in particular in internal management of employees.

Gamification, following the structure of the gameplay (rules, defined behavior and user actions), can influence employees’ behaviour due to its use of motivational drivers of reinforcements and emotions:

  • Both positive and negative reinforcements encourage repetition of behaviours: behaviour leading to a satisfying outcome is likely to be repeated, while behaviour leading to an unsatisfying outcome is less likely to be sustained
  • Emotions effect users’ behaviour on whether they want to continue the activity or not. A mix of emotions is important for the user’s engagement. You need to have both positive emotions such as excitement, amusement, personal triumph etc. and negative emotions such as disappointment not achieving a reward to create a state of engagement

Successful gamification involves repetition of behaviours: by providing rewards and emotional responses for users following particular behaviours, then that can become an automatic user process or habit.

For example, I was recently asked by a client in the automotive industry to explain where and how these concepts could be applied in a scenario of motivating dealers to follow procedure.

In this context, the gamified business process can be utilised in influencing the desired behaviour – dealers to follow the same rules and procedures (business goal) and be rewarded for their effort to do so (repetitive behaviour).

The simplest game mechanics used here could be the ones relevant to competition and rewards which can take the shape of recognition status in a company’s dealer’s leader-board (emotional response on the high status among peers) and extend to dealers understand business processes as a result.

All organisations need to motivate and engage their employees – performance, teams’ collaboration and customer service are dependent on employee’s engagement.

In the example of automotive industry and the dealers’ network, the business depends on whether or not each dealer is mentally and emotionally focused on the company’s goal of following procedure, that goal is fundamental for the business success. Gamification can be an approach on achieving this. Taking lessons from the game domain, an effective gamified experience can motivate the users behaviour based on the desired business rules and goals, while increase users’ engagement participating in that experience.

Is it time for a game?

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