How to choose your right gamification team at work

Exploring the use of internal and external team members for work place gamification

Select from the masses

Select from the masses

Although there is a lot written about gamification within the workplace, it is hard to find anything that mentions whom should do the actual implementation. Indeed, even my own prior article mentions the need for leadership buy-in but the actual profile of individuals is missing. So, let us dig a little deeper today and explore who should and should not be part of the gamification implementation team.

Note to reader: This is written by JAMSO. We are a business that supplies gamification solutions. It will be inevitable some bias might shine through, with that point in mind lets continue.

Making it possible to outsource projects for success 

Should a business recruit a third party to install a gamification process? The answer is classic consultants, yes and no. We tend to suggest that continued outsourcing of gamification is not the best strategy.

Outsource of gamification still has risks but also benefits.

Outsource of gamification still has risks but also benefits.

A business that has no experience in gamification can rapidly reap fast track benefits from using a good outsourced supplier. A good supplier will be willing to work with your business to include a series of how top’s, checklists and risk considerations. These steps will help both parties with higher success, post implementation. They also provide insights to each of the mission-critical milestones that need to be crossed.

Some companies might wish to outsource projects that provide training for future gamification strategies. This process can provide some the best paybacks as long as skills are retained and resources remain supportive.

So, break down your needs into specific areas:

1.       Are you seeking an awareness of how broad gamification can be implemented within your business?

2.       Do you seek a specific one-off project?

3.       What culture change is your business seeking to make over the duration of the project then over the next 6, 12, 18 months?

4.       How will the outsource business share information that will help develop our own in-house skills?

5.       Are you seeking a gamification solution supported with fully embedded software or a more rudimentary solution?

6.       How have you already defined success for the gamification project?

7.       What specific behaviors are you seeking to change and improve?

8.       How is feedback currently provided to staff for development of skills?

9.       What success experience do you currently have with internal gamification processes?

10.   Will there be sufficient funding to implement a good system?

Leaving it to the human resources department

Unique perspectives from the HR department.

Unique perspectives from the HR department.

The enthusiasm for gamification deployment across many companies finds its birthplace from a well-informed human resource department. The members may have experience or extensive knowledge with the roll out process, key elements and step to step critical success factors. Indeed, quite often the HR team is the ideal and perfect team to deploy with such a project.

Recognize key benefits of using your HR team.

  1. Culture-aware

  2. Knowledge of business

  3. Understand personality and motivators not obvious to a third party.

  4. Have existing relationships with team players

  5. Strengthens their influence across the business

  6. Knowledge and skills are retained, enhanced

Some risks to be aware of by just relying upon your HR department includes:-

  1. Limited understanding, skills, and knowledge of the full opportunities within gamification.

  2. Having only a theoretical knowledge of the subject.

  3. Project management skills may not be strong enough

  4. Try to include too many objectives

  5. Lack of support and priority from other departments

The recent advances within #edtech also lends a depth of knowledge and new trends that the HR department may already identify as clear benefits with teamed under the framework of an effective gamification narrative. With a clear overview of the risk and benefits from the start, you can overcome these obstacles and enjoy the benefits.

The HR department will normally hold specialist knowledge in behavioral theory, emotions and understand the principles of motivation. These are critical factors for sustained success.

Delegating gamification to a team of interns

One of the major missed opportunities within companies is the underutilized talents of an intern team. These individuals normally bring idealistic beliefs, strong vision and natural enthusiasm and typically strong IT skills. Could they be the dream team for your challenge?

Exploring the positives of using an intern team.

  1. Low-cost investment in people to deliver a potentially high return activity sounds like every business owners wish.

  2. Interns bring the latest academic theory so you remain fresh up to date with inputs on potential outcomes.

  3. Great concept and framework understanding and often very good at detailed work and execution style.

  4. Fresh perspectives can offer new solutions to issues you have and include some you never realized you had.

  5. An extra pair of hands for a specific project allows the rest of the business to continue its focus on strategy and daily tactical execution.

Interns are highly motivated with fresh perspectives

Interns are highly motivated with fresh perspectives

Exploring some negatives in their use:

  1. The interns may not know or find out in time key elements of gamification sustained success.

  2. No authority and priority is provided to allow their success

  3. Seen as a free activity so less chance as been considered as a high-value project.

  4. Lack of experience when dealing with silo behavior and attitudes internally.

  5. Focused on success for the duration of their tenure rather than the sustained long-term benefit of the business.

  6. Know how is lost after they leave.

Using the marketing team for gamification projects

Well, gamification is often compared to sales campaigns and branding isn’t it? So, why not use the existing knowledge and skills of the marketing to roll out your next gamification project across the whole business.

There can be no doubt as to some positive attributes a good marketing team can bring to the table of gamification success. Their understanding of narrative, storyline, and brand messaging are valuable contributions. Even the good data marketing team will understand, respect and understand the benefits of rapid feedback systems and solid analytics to demonstrate progress.

I often find the marketing team can be the strongest candidates to implement a gamification strategy across the business, yet the full deployment and execution highlight some specific risks with this approach.

Marketing understands branding and storyline

Marketing understands branding and storyline

Some considered risks when using the marketing department:

  1. Resource levels often are constrained, the project is simply added to the existing responsibilities.

  2. The focus becomes more brand and story line than true effective behavior change.

  3. Knowledge of mastery attainment and learning as a specialist field is weak.

Operations leaders and team players

Operational team players and their management provide solid insights

Operational team players and their management provide solid insights

Possibly one of the most frequent roll out strategies I see is gamification being rolled out by specific operational leaders and with a selection of future gamified team players. This follows some simple solid reasoning, that the best way to generate buy-in with an activity is for the people to create the strategy and tool themselves.

Some of the great benefits this approach provides are the depth of skills, recheck and verification of mastery levels and the longer term development of gamification skills for the deployment team. Indeed much should be applauded for this approach.

Risks identified when using team players and operational management:

  1. Lack of fresh perspectives can limit the imagination of the gamified storyline.

  2. Hero’s established have self-promotional benefits that can demotivate lesser performing individuals.

  3. Silo attitudes towards the team disrupt or stop the success of the project.

  4. Lack of gamification knowledge to sustain motivation, learnings, and storyline may have negative impacts on the roll out.


From these brief insights to the selection of a gamification team, one could quickly conclude there is no perfect team. This statement, however, is not true. A perfect team is one that wins the day. So, the team may need to change over time based on the circumstances the business or organization finds itself trying to overcome. There is no magic formula, despite what any outsourced company will tell you. It is best to be realistic and choose with the full broad perspective of opportunity, resources, and timing.

Select your team members for the game ahead of you.

Select your team members for the game ahead of you.

So, for one business starting with an intern team to create a framework might be the best start. This framework could then be fine-tuned and supported by the HR department. The operational leaders may be needed to provide insights for mastery of skills but kept in check with HR for long term consequences and business strategic direction. The marketing team can help with the design, roll-out, branding and supportive storyline to ensure a degree of polish and finesse is added to reliable data. At any time, there might be the need for an external business to support, guide, train or take any specific role on a one-off or ongoing basis.

In time, the business culture itself might become gamified and skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm strengthen over a period of years. At this point, external companies can offer supportive consultancy advice on fine tuning or benchmark activities. The role of technology for example in future will rapidly change the landscape of capabilities plus standards.

Feel free to contact the team at JAMSO with any questions you have about gamification. Notice I avoided a specific discussion surrounding the use of status and badges and rewards in this article. That will have to wait for another time.