Gamification is a word that has been thrown around the corporate digital sphere a few times in the past. It represents an interactive, interesting and motivational way to enhance internal processes, while also giving the right people a certain amount of accountability in their company roles. At first glance, this approach may not be everybody’s cup of tea, especially for those businesses that prefer to do things a little more traditionally.

There are, however, some misconceptions about what gamification is, who it works for and what its potential benefits can be. Often seen as a carrot dangling in front of a younger-crowd’s face, it’s no surprise that the approach isn’t all too popular amongst South African businesses, which are, for the most part, owned and managed by individuals who prefer to stick to a working formula than to risk delays through changing the way that they do business. There is of course, nothing particularly wrong with this; but businesses need to adapt as they go if they wish to stay ahead of their competitors.

Gamification represents the perfect way for businesses to adapt their approach to productivity, self-management and employee motivation; and the good news is that the process is nowhere near as complicated, or as involved, as the name makes it out to be.

What is Gamification in a Business?

Gamification office

Gamification has a number of misconceptions surrounding the concept, especially as far as traditional models to business and productivity management are concerned. Far and wide it is seen as a gimmicky tactic used only to make work life seem more enjoyable for employees, with no real tangible benefits for the business that instils it.

In truth, the reality couldn’t be further off. Simply put, gamifying processes need only be a reward system that recognises people for their achievements, helps them better manage their time and resources, and also helps them set goals that are realistic and measurable. It’s a policy that has been used in businesses over again, and for a long time; though it can now be enhanced with the functionality of digital, shareable technology.

Being more of a fluid philosophy than a rigid model, gamification is also highly adaptable, an important point since no two businesses are identical. There are nuances to internal processes and motivations that differ between businesses; often to such an extent that entirely systematic approaches to managing productivity may work for one business or industry, and not at all for others.

While it has always been used in some businesses as a concept, gamification has only now, in the digital age, been given a space of its own, thanks to the implementation of models that make use of mobile technology to enhance its effectiveness and benefits; such as an app that can be downloaded to employees’ phones and used to gamify the tasks in their work-day.

Does Gamification Need to Be Complex?

Complex Game

Where gamification is being implemented in businesses, they are sometimes not reaching the full potential of their effectiveness. As a young and relatively dynamic approach to business management, gamification can sometimes be difficult to approach; especially if you are used to using more traditional approaches. If there is one piece of advice that all companies should follow when gamifying their management models, it is that keeping it simple is always the best approach. This is especially important if you are newly implementing the concept to your processes.

If simplicity is the most important aspect of the concept, so too is reward. These types of models are used primarily to motivate members of staff. Without a reward system in place, the game will very quickly start to feel a little like big brother is watching. While the immediate benefits of constantly monitoring your staff are evident, it may also prove to be completely demoralising for them, essentially undermining the point of the approach.

On the technical side, there need not even be any digital media involved, however, if you are looking for an approach that is interactive, has a high-volume of voluntary application and also requires minimal administration (since your other business tasks will likely take a higher priority), then digitising the concept through a mobile application is an advisable approach.

What are the Benefits?

Office Games

These types of models are not simply implemented because they are trending, or because they make the office environment more pleasant. For them to be viable approaches, they need to hold tangible benefits for the companies that use them. Whether those benefits are passed on to the client, or simply improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the business, these are some of the top benefits of gamifying your internal processes.

Increased Engagement

With the right framework in place, gamification increases employee engagement with their tasks since it creates accountability and rewards them for excellent performance. This improves staff performance on their own accord; meaning you can spend less time micromanaging their processes, and more on growing your business.

Makes Processes Fun and Interactive

A positive office environment can make all the difference to productivity, quality and work-ethic. Why do you think firms like Google invest so heavily into electric office décor, comfort and creativity? While a multi-coloured office environment with bean-bags and hackie-sacks might not fit the identity of your business, an app that gamifies processes will add to moral subtly.

Creates a Competitive Environment

Competition is almost always a positive thing in a working environment, or at least healthy competition is. It is one of the most effective to both drive your employees and make them accountable for their performance. Gamification can enable you to pit members against each other as they seek to outperform each other in your business, on a platform that simply seems like good, clean fun.

Increased Motivation

As I’ve mentioned a few times in this article; motivation is the primary function of a gamification model. Between the interactivity, competition and accountability; gamification encourages employees to be self-driven.

Real-time Key Performance Indicators

Through implementing an easily accessible points system, gamification makes it easy for administrators to gauge key performance indicators at a glance. Since performance metrics are stored and gathered in real-time, current indicators can even be compared with past ones, if the model allows for it.

Who has Made it Work for Them?

Boardroom games

Gamification, in its digital form, has been used extensively by companies all over the globe.  Brands both large and small have implemented variations of the strategy with success. Here are a few cases that exemplify this:

Slalom Consulting

Slalom Consulting, a company with over 2000 employees, faced the problem of having such a high concentration of staff while struggling to enable cohesion between all of its members. They felt that this challenge would best be met with a system that helped them get to know, and remember each of their co-workers.

To do this, they developed an app that would help them remember the names and faces of everyone they worked with. They even implemented a leader-board to encourage participation. Initially, the model met with little success, having only 5% of the participants caring about the leader-board, despite the promise of prizes.

However, once they made the app work on a team basis, as opposed to an individual one, participation grew from 5% to 90%, with most of their participants knowing at least 89% of their co-workers.

The firm now boasts collaboration as one of their key characteristics.

Objective Logistics

Objective Logistics make use of a specially developed app called ‘Muse’, which as its name suggests, seeks to inspire staff with rewards for performance excellence. The software was developed for a chain of restaurants called ‘Not Your Average Joe’s’. This simple system succeeded substantially in motivating staff, and in doing so, increased sales by 1.8%.

There was a knock-on effect of this, whether it was anticipated or not is not determined. The increased quality of service resulting from the app also increased the gratuities given to the staff by around 11%, further increasing their work-ethic and performance.

The biggest challenge here was integrating the app with the chain’s multiple points-of-sale. Each franchise had minor differences and separate accounts. However, the adaptability of this approach allowed Objective Logistics to design software that could be used across branches.

Ford Motors: Canada

Being familiar with new car models and their futures is an important pre-requisite for those working in the motor industry, which makes product knowledge and training essential for the employees of Ford Motors. Ford Motors Canada partnered up with  Bunchball to create a learning portal that works off of a gamification model, in a bid to increase employee interaction when training.

The results far exceeded Ford’s expectations, greatly enhancing the learning capabilities of all of their employees with a 417% increase in users on their portal, particularly amongst their youngest employees.

How Can Your Business Implement Gamification?

Gamify your work

Gamification will come with a different face depending on where it is being deployed. The needs, goals and abilities of your business and its tasks will greatly determine the characteristics that your model will implement:

Feedback

Gamification models are frequently used to get feedback from the bottom up. Many employers have found value in considering the ideas and suggestions of those working for them. Unfortunately, getting feedback from your employees isn’t always easy. Often enough they would rather keep their opinions to themselves, or don’t know which channels to communicate through. With the right gamification model, feedback can be handled effectively and seamlessly.

Goals

Business, department, team and personal goals can all be set, shared and analysed with the right gamification model in place. This will enhance the effectiveness of cohesion and communication in your work environment, and will also ensure accountability.

Badges

Employees can be recognised for their achievements wherever they have added value to their services. This in turn gives their co-workers something to work towards.

Levelling Up

Levelling up is a popular game mechanic that rewards individuals for grinding out hard-works. By increasing to another level after amassing a certain amount of points, your employees will appreciate the way that this system gives them milestones, essentially motivating them to get there more quickly.

Collaboration

Gamification allows for more opportunities for collaboration between your employees. They can be assigned to factions or teams, and as such, feel responsible for its performance in the game, pushing them to work harder and do better.

Contact Applord to Learn More about Custom App Development

Apps

There are various ways in which you could implement these kinds of models in your business, all you need is a sound understanding of its processes, challenges, needs and workforce. While it isn’t absolutely essential to deliver the model to your employees via a digital channel (such as through mobile app development), this method has been proven to give the most effective results while requiring the least amount of long-term administration.

Contact a representative from Applord, an innovative app development company in South Africa, to find out more about how we can digitise and gamify your work processes with a custom designed app.

John Ottolman

John Ottolman

John Ottolman: Keyword whisperer, content creator, researcher and OCD stricken editor. The imprints of keyboard letters have long-since embossed themselves on his finger-tips. Thirsty for knowledge and hungry to share it, he is here to provide insights from the digital industry.

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