6 Reasons Gamification Increases Productivity at Work

What is gamification, is it effective for employee engagement, and should you try it?

6 Reasons Gamification Increases Productivity at Work

Most people by now have heard of gamification in some form or another. Gamification is essentially the use of points, badges, leaderboards, or other elements of what we generally know as “games” in tasks that already exist in order to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.

But it’s entirely possible that you aren’t entirely sure what gamification is and how it works in the workplace. The quick definition is that gamification is adding game-like elements to non-gaming environments to improve engagement and performance. But not all gamification is created equal; by combining good game mechanics with clearly defined and measurable tasks — awareness, productivity, and motivation are increased. All of that culminates in the best increase of all: Revenue.

Let’s walk through how your team can benefit through gamification and how you can start applying some of these gamification principles to your sales force today.

Gamification — a brief example

With the correct combination of leadership and a clear understanding of what key tasks or activities you want to increase performance on, it can be relatively easy to turn them into a game if some type of reward is involved.

As one example, let’s take contacting people: customers, prospects, anyone. Let’s say you are going to contact them by phone or email. Let’s also say that you have a clear goal: generate a customer success case, qualify a lead, or simply thank someone for their business.

If you are going to repeat this task day in and day out, it will eventually get boring because, as humans, we just don’t care much for repetition. The first few times we do something, it’s new and exciting, but after that, it becomes routine, stale, dry, and maybe even flat-out boring. So, in order to keep it fun, you decide to look at turning these tasks into a game.

Now, in order for this game to be effective, it needs to involve something that the “players” or employees will care about. Is there some reward? Is there public praise or recognition involved? Is there some celebration or other incentive for completing the task or being the first one to finish? Once a clearly defined goal is established, and a meaningful reward has been set forth, the game is on, and your sales reps’ psychology will kick in. But what does “meaningful” mean? It means that in order for the players/employees to strive and put forth the maximum effort to achieve this reward, it needs to be fun, interesting, and fulfill some desire that they have.

In practice…

As an example of meaningful rewards, let’s say you offer up a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, or tickets to a sporting or movie event to the “winners”. The winners can be the first ones done, everyone who accomplishes the goal in a given time frame, the top 3, and so on. But, if none of them care about movies, wine, chocolates, or sports, then the incentive will be ineffective because it is meaningless to them. Not only that, but offering these subpar rewards can actually de-incentivize your teams and create more of a divide in the office.

One general rule of thumb is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to rewards. Even if everyone in the office loves chocolate, some will like dark chocolate; some will like milk chocolate; some will want chocolate with candies in it, and so on. The better you can do at providing specifically what the “winners” would like as a prize, the more effective a motivator that prize will be.

When done right, rewards can be highly effective motivators that are not expensive. Hot tip: just have simple conversations with your team about what they like!

6 ways gamification increases productivity

Obviously, unless gamification is actually increasing activity levels, performance, awareness of goals, or some other clearly measurable business objectives that it’s unlikely your boss is going to give the thumbs up to this endeavor. Luckily, gamification helps with many areas of business performance.

Here are just a few quick examples of how gamification increases productivity:

1. Ramps up the competition

Everyone likes to compete, right? You run a little faster if someone is next to you on the treadmill. Likewise, if someone is closing more deals, you’re likely to up your game and start calling more customers in order to close more deals. Why? Because humans are wired for competition.

For example: In a survey of faculty, students, and staff at the Harvard School of Public Health, nearly half of the respondents said they’d prefer to live in a world where the average salary was $25,000, and they earned $50,000 than one where they earned $100,000, but the average was $200,000.

Competition is an innate part of who we are as human beings. From a biological and historical perspective, we’ve competed since the beginning for everything from food and resources to the Olympic games. We are hardwired to compete.

However, keep in mind that small team sizes are more effective when competing. According to the Association for Psychological Science, when there are few competitors, people can experience social comparison, which fuels motivation to compete. But as the number of competitors increases, social comparison diminishes, dampening competitive feelings.

Researchers found that while one’s competitive motivation increases in a small group, it decreases significantly when a few competitors become many.

The takeaway? Run more varied competitions with smaller groups rather than fewer but larger competitions. We recommend that you run competitions between offices, smaller groups, or by location to boost engagement further.

2. Makes work more fun

Work is more than just a 9-to-5; it is where we spend most of our time and is oftentimes integral to healthy self-confidence. A well-designed gamification plan inspires employees to take action because they are rewarded in ways that are meaningful and make them feel valued. This can come in a variety of ways, such as peer or manager recognition, praise, increased autonomy in their role, and, of course, real-life prizes.

By measuring the impacts of key tasks and supporting the growth, development, and improvement of action on these key tasks, gamification is an effective strategy to drive focused activity while also providing meaningful value to individual employees.

3. Speeds up time to mastery

Mastery is the comprehensive knowledge or skill of something, allowing us to complete large tasks in shorter time frames with higher levels of quality. In order to achieve mastery, we need to repeat tasks many times over… but repetition is boring and tedious. So, how can you make it so that attaining mastery becomes simple, interesting, and fun? Easy, reward them!

When people receive recognition, accolades, rewards, or other meaningful incentives for completing clearly defined tasks, it inspires better performance and higher motivation, which in turn results in an increased and consistent drive to keep learning. So, if you want employees to master specific tasks, create a competition to ensure everyone focuses on those objectives, and don't be stingy with the rewards! We suggest giving awards for multiple categories and places to make sure everyone feels like they have an opportunity to win!

4. Inspires collaboration

Similar to competition, collaboration inspires us to put forth the extra effort, just slightly differently. Whereas competition pits us against each other–individually or in teams – collaboration sets common goals for a group to achieve together. Gamification helps build a culture of teamwork and fuels continuous progress for everyone. And since it also increases transparency, people are more likely to converse about their own and others’ activities and contribute relevant knowledge whenever possible.

For example, say one of your co-workers makes a sale with an important client. You happen to have some insight or even a connection with that particular client that can help with nurturing the relationship moving forward, so you head over to their desk and fill them in on what you know. Not only does this foster relationships within the office, but it also helps increase close rates, prevents churn, and ultimately benefits the company's bottom line.

5. Designates goals

There is a reason why so many people set goals when they want to achieve something. It inspires motivation and holds them more accountable for the completion of tasks. However, abandoning goals is common due to a lack of clarity and specificity, leading to frustration, burnout, and, ultimately, a feeling of defeat.

Gamification makes goal-setting simple and targeted goals explicit, which greatly increases the likelihood of accomplishing–and surpassing–individual, team, and company goals. Specific, measurable goals with a time constraint are proven to be the most effective. With gamification tools, you can easily implement assessable targets and indicate time limits–you can also set up recurring goals, for example, weekly or monthly budgets.

6. Provides instant feedback

With millennials making up a large majority of the workforce, it is no wonder that the availability of real-time data and frequent, immediate feedback from managers has become a must for any successful organization.

Instant feedback allows people to understand how they are performing and subsequently adapt their behavior if needed. If they are performing well, they can celebrate and continue to progress, and if they are performing poorly, they can quickly course-correct and identify patterns that could help them to improve in the future. Either way, employees have control and ownership over their performance, and this will likely result in happier and more productive workers.

Final thoughts

Gamification is one of the most lucrative tools in any sales manager’s arsenal. It motivates your team, gives you access to real-time analytics and metrics, and helps boost your culture where it matters most. Utilizing a sales gamification tool is one of the best ways to reap the benefits of gamification for not just the sales team, but managers too!

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