How Gamification Can Help Your Business

If you’re not taking gamification seriously, you’re missing out on an innovative way to engage and motivate people. Getting started is part of the fun.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

December 28, 2023

4 Min Read
gamification concept in learning, interactive engaging content
Song_about_summer via Alamy Stock

At a Glance

  • Introducing training concepts through gaming is a fun way to encourage employee development.
  • ‘Gamification’ can boost staff productivity by providing an immersive training environment.
  • AI and other emerging technologies will only make gamification more attractive for organizations.

Gamification brings gameplay into traditionally nongame environments with the aim of encouraging user participation and helping IT team members and others reach new goals.

Gamification helps organizations improve employee learning, development, and engagement with various game-oriented training elements and rewards, including points systems and leaderboards. “It’s providing your team with information in a fun, digestible, and relatable way,” says Michael Ringman, CIO at workforce transformation specialist TELUS International in an email interview.

Business outcomes are frequently tied to how well employees relate to the strategy, observes Leah Houde, chief learning officer with business advisory firm PwC via email. “Introducing game elements can encourage much higher levels of engagement throughout an organization,” Houde says.

When given an assignment that many team members may find boring, gamification can supply the motivation needed to accomplish the task. “It can help improve productivity, accomplish bigger goals, and change behaviors,” says Nicolas Avila, CTO, North America, at software development firm Globant via email. “The gaming industry studies something called ‘flow’, which happens when there’s the right balance between motivation and challenge -- this is a key part of gamification.”

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Gamification at Work

At work, gamification is often used to build employee experience by promoting fun competition and immersive learning experiences, leading to better information retention and a heightened incentive to engage in ongoing learning and upskilling, Ringman says.

Gamification is frequently used to boost staff productivity. “In any business, there are many things that need to be done every day that many of us aren’t naturally motivated to do,” Avila observes. Gamification, provides helpful context, guidance, and rewards, allowing tasks to be completed faster and more efficiently while improving focus. “This, in turn, helps the company achieve larger business goals.”

Brands can also tap into gamification as they strive to engage customers and transform ordinary interactions into memorable experiences. Ringman notes that brands can use gamification to add extra fun to loyalty programs by hosting contests and competitions, as well as awarding virtual badges and trophies to customers as they complete various actions or pass significant milestones.

Let the Gamification Begin

TELUS International uses gamification to deepen its teams’ product knowledge, scope, and depth. The firm uses a five-level game that describes a product’s “technical story.” The quiz then awards participants points based on their information retention. “This has helped us to increase the knowledge of our products and services in an interactive yet engaging way,” Ringman says.

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Houde says that she and her PwC colleagues are witnessing firsthand how gamification can, through the lens of learning and development, support business operations and performance. “As we explore the latest learning tools and philosophies, we’ve realized that success comes down to a few things: sustaining learning over time, tapping into deeper motivations when possible, and incentivizing our people, which gamification can do.”

Game Limits

Gamification is widely recognized as a way to effectively connect team members to content that fulfills their professional needs and personal interests. Yet learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition, Houde warns. “It’s critical to offer in-person seminars, video content, and AI-enabled tools to help train people effectively,” she explains. “Gamification can be a valuable tool, but a personalized approach is what can empower learners to continuously pursue their interests, aspirations and unique upskilling needs.”

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Avila cautions that gamification can be a waste of time if not correctly implemented. In a worst-case situation, it could even reinforce the wrong type of behavior. “Gamification’s impact is weakened when companies don’t focus on the behaviors they want to induce in consumers or employees, but instead concentrate on making the process itself a game.”

It’s Inescapable

As AI and LLMs are incorporated into virtually every way people work and learn, gamification is destined to become more widely used, Ringman says. “I have no doubt that gamification is only going to be more popular in the coming years, with deployments becoming a best practice in the workplace and across brand-consumer interactions.”

Avila agrees. He predicts that in the years ahead organizations will embrace more extensive gamification implementations, such as situational immersive training, interactive onboarding, and in-depth learning activities. As consumers and employees continue to evolve, and new generations emerge, the familiarity of these populations with games will boost adoption and enable new use cases, he adds.

Motivating staff to engage in new strategic initiatives is an age-old business challenge, Houde observes. Yet it’s important to remember that any motivation tool has its limits. “We’re quick to use gamification, but understanding motivation really should come first.”

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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