The 11 things you never knew about business gamification

11 things you never knew about work place gamification.

Moving gamification from edtech into the business workplace

Moving gamification from edtech into the business workplace

Take a look at your smartphone apps, they offer some similarities to the successful implementation of gamification within a business environment. A business seeks methods to improve the bottom line, reduce waste and boost productivity whilst retaining engaged staff. For these reasons alone there is a boom for gamification in business. Here we will explore some of the significant points you never knew about this impact within an organization.

Before we dive into business, let’s look at some use within smartphone technology that you are already familiar and using this process in everyday life.

Apps are big on gamification

Apps are big on gamification

Great apps provide pushed notifications of big news and changes, they provide a count on the number of likes and comments people make on social media. Your podcast app may reward you with statistics on hours saved due to settings adjusted on listening speed. A fitness app offers you the chance to collect rewards and share selfies after a 5km race. You have the opportunity to share and compete across a wider community based on standards that are similar to your own start point.

The reward for reading so far: If you are also seeking supportive evidence on gamification ROI then please read this excellent list of over 90+ case studies from around the world and across many different industries.

Bonus Reward for reading so far: See this engagement level response based on US data.

Employee Engagement Levels

Source: Gallup

1. Players benefit from real-time feedback

A leader and manager should want nothing more than to provide rapid feedback to workers. Engaged employees will often seek methods of generating faster feedback mechanisms for their quality, productivity, and development. These are perfect matches for designing a good gamification system. Real time feedback on a personal and team level is encouraged as part of the fundamental core steps for implementation. This encourages sustained success and corrections where needed.

The core reasons for motivation within gamification

The core reasons for motivation within gamification

Some rapid feedback systems can include status, recognition, leadership boards and direct detailed feedback from automated or manual systems. These rapid reporting systems need to be selective with their appropriate level of privacy. Indeed a person that reaches a desired standard slightly slower than another person may become demotivated.

Conversely, if presented in a positive way with ideas of improvement to improve speedy adoption, then such information may become a motivational stimulus with positive results.


2. Employees grow with clear development

Many large organizations have training budgets split for different use, leaders have theirs, new employees have their own courses, HR might invest in a new model system, the operational team might develop their own and sales and marketing often invest in external third party sources. This is when “I’m out of the office and in training” emails come on auto-respond. It is great and important to see this investment been made across the whole organization, but gamification is powerful at aligning the purpose and priority of these sessions.

Encouragement of common-themed systems allows a cross-departmental support and wider sense of purpose to each training session.

3. Stimulates and rewards behavior change.

Most business leaders want to see sustained growth and positive work place behaviors. The behavior can be process, systems, emotional or other desired future states. Through a solid rewards system these achievements can be recognized, supported and encouraged by the design and expectation standards required. So, different levels of attainment may recognize certain sustained changes in behavior.

Its about results not just fun and games

Its about results not just fun and games

One of the most significant counter factors to be considered within the game design is the risk of encouraging cheating as a part of the culture. Care should be taken at each stage to control such risks and through player’s unethical actions.



4. It’s not about status and rewards badges

The most common myth to bust is that workplace rewards and levels attained do not have to be about badges. Despite their popular use within sales and over the past few years, many solutions can offer rewards that have no badge status.

The core reason for improvement and progression within the workplace is to offer some bottom line benefit to financial and form of business operations. So, recognition can be shown in many different ways.

A competition is made from many

A competition is made from many

Some use of leadership boards is common practice yet care needs to be taken with reference the long term benefits of that these communication tools apply. Care in motivation and equality is important. So, consider weighting systems and handicaps as natural counters to leader position domination.



5. Can change the business culture

Establishing a common narrative and supported with the best incentives will prove great catalysts for significant cultural change as desired by leadership. Gone are the days that a new business vision and mission can be posted on a wall and forgotten. Today’s fast changing world allows for business culture to evolve at the appropriate pace from vision through to execution level.

However care needs to be given to the potential storyline and narrative provided. Presenting and delivering a short term limited process will become boring and seen as a fad. Care should therefore be made to linking actions and activities to wider purposes and clear strategic goals.

6. Without leadership support, it will not work

Any quality initiative needs leadership support and appropriate investment. Without them, your strategy will most likely fail or only succeed through chance. Therefore only embark on such a strategy after generating mutual expectations and levels of support from the C-suite through to middle managers.

The leadership should be seen to be part of the process and engaged within its framework. If a generally broad and ill-designed system are introduced then the results will be equally vague.

7. The design, structure, and implementation will not be easy

The full process is made from many different parts

The full process is made from many different parts

Let’s be honest here, it isn’t going to be easy. In fact, your business will most likely need to adjust the design, strategy, and tactics of your approach over time. This happens with most companies regardless if their process has been created in-house or outsourced. Outsourcing the process may be a good fast implementation starting point. Also, this helps deploy new in-house skills and ideas as the process takes hold on normal working days. Over time, expand and polish your skills at every step.

According to Gartner’s article in this Forbes report, they predict that approximately 80% of gamification systems will fail through poor design and implementation – ensure you avoid this trap.

8. Works well in remote workplace settings

With more companies today employing staff working remotely, there are significant benefits to remote workers. Having an established global or regional system will allow for quality control, fast feedback and an emotional connection beyond the job function.

A risk with remote workers is the overall level of engagement and emotional connection to the daily culture of the business. To force an employee into a gamification process may have counter effects. Therefore a sincere understanding of the culture, region, and participants are vital factors when creating the design process. The word “gamification” can be misunderstood to be, we just a game.

9. Is an emotional driver for each unique person

A challenge for many companies is to capture the motivation and sustained enthusiasm with its workers. Consistent rapid feedback, rewards and clear progression level difficulties help stimulate and emotional response from its participants. Competitive people will seek to become more productive and attain the highest levels of achievement.

The 4 types of gamification player - JAMSO

The 4 types of gamification player - JAMSO

Addressing the needs of the 4 different types of “player” it is possible through design to capture the imagination, needs and motivation factors to stimulate a successful outcome.

Encouraging voluntary adoption to a gamification system establishes an immediate emotional connection to the full process – do not let it down with poor implementation.


10. The process helps as a stress reliever

There are many reasons why people accept stressors into their day or become stressed by their own. Establishing personalized expectation provides clarity for the step to step improvement, standards, and recognition for participants.

A business that understands how pressure works and the causation factors of stress can use these factors to be addressed by design and process. Deeper levels of mastery through accountability and skills improvement help people’s feelings of empowerment.

11. Encourages periodic reviews for strategy and implementation

A solid principle about quality improvement systems is the review process. This is an integral part of the roll out and implementation process. Through periodic review, process improvements are made after a clear results overview is completed. The fresh perspective that gamification provides to a business often forces the need for deeper and more meaningful reviews.

Research, reviews and analysis

Research, reviews and analysis

New insights gained from standard PEST (Political, Social, Economic, and Technological) and market SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis at the business and market levels will play important periodic factors and influence to framework design. This is part of how a business wants to position itself in a future desired market and operational position. Through such work and supported with benchmarks and internal metrics, the full organization can take powerful data generated from employee growth to shape investment and priorities.

Your next moves at work

So you now have a list of areas to consider at work with new perspectives. A clear next step is for you to seek any mix or singular way you can introduce and apply some of these points I have raised and implement them into your own personal working day. Through such experimentation and exploration are the same challenges and questions to be found on a wider departmental and organizational level.

Seek to trial a mix of the ideas and see how you personally behave differently with a leadership board as compared to a reward or status achievement. The range of emotional reactions and reasons for your response will provide important insights to how others will react also.


I could have added to this list many other areas, yet I hope this summarizes the main factors that are partially unknown or simply misunderstood about gamification in the workplace. I would love to hear from your own experience by inviting you to write a short comment below.

The clear point with gamification and the workplace is the true benefits it needs to deliver for the players and the business alike. This is not to be taken by untrained individuals in a short brainstorm session and then rolled across the business. Serious care and attention to the details requires time and investment plus the skills and often outsourced experts to help a business along the path towards its success.

Core elements of UX design

Core elements of UX design

The players we have described within this article are you and me. We are the humans participating within the whole framework. Managers of the system and players seek a positive user experience (UX) through the whole process. This is where alignment to wider business vision, principles, mission and strategy are linked directly to the specific goals set out within the whole process.

When a solid overriding narrative and storyline is established most people can relate to the part of their journey within it. They can relate to the hero and characters described. The art of a perfect roll out will be to sustain this relevance over a long period of time. Indeed, it should not feel like just a game, the players and business need to feel and see bottom line change and improvement.

As a reward for reading the full article so far, quote “Gamification Free 15” for a 15-minute free consultation with JAMSO about any challenge you face in this area for your business.

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WOW – I guess you liked what we wrote so far! Great, then you might also take a peek at some of our other articles on gamification.

Here are some suggested other people worth following on social media for gamification. Note that we have no direct connection with these people, but the wider world also likes their contributions on this subject.

Yu-kai Chou  @yukaichou

Monica Cornetti @monicacornetti

Gabe Zichermann @gzicherm