Shaping our future – Gamification in the workplace
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Before it was a famous movie line, it was a well-known proverb. And proverbs are just truths in sugar coating.
Gamification is a very recent trend, if you think that its popularity started to rise only around 2010, even if the term in its current sense was used as early as 2003. Or at least that’s what Google says. Either way, gamification has started to draw more and more attention lately. Its applications have begun to be explored in domains such as: education, commerce, communication and activity, government services, public engagement, environmental behaviour, marketing and advertising, crowdsourcing, and others.
We thought it would be best to get the information first hand, from someone who understands the nuances of gamification. So we interviewed Mihai Cepoi – founder of Playful Solutions and Jobful. The first is a company offering gamification-based solutions for various HR processes, the other is a job platform in which the recruitment is based entirely on gamification. Let’s see what he had to say on the subject.
1. What is gamification?
MC: In a nutshell, gamification is simply applying game mechanics to processes or activities unrelated to games, in order to boost participation, engagement, productivity etc.
People play games as a means to seek that feeling of exhilarating achievement, of constant engagement, of being part of something. Real life doesn’t usually offer these types of experiences, pleasures, or motivating designs; that’s why games are seen as a refuge, as a method of semi-rejecting reality. So the question was why not use all this creative and productive potential of games in shaping a better future? A future in which challenges are met with excitement and carried out with firm motivation. Where chores become quests and task completion means you level up. Pretty cool, right?
I’ve learned all of this from Jane McGonigal’s book – Reality is Broken. I recommend it wholeheartedly, it’s a really good book.
2. How does gamification apply in the workplace?
Using gamification in the workplace is actually exactly what we’re trying to do at Playful Solutions. It’s well known that corporate activities and procedures can be(come) really boring at certain moments, so what we wanted to do is refresh them, put them in a whole different light, thus triggering a shift in the employees’ perspective. In order to do this, we start by looking at the organization’s challenge – what is the issue or what is not working as it should? By identifying this, we can determine a goal and the behaviours that will facilitate reaching it. Finally, we can design the gamification strategy and start the engines!
Throughout our entire process, we apply a human focused design, especially when building gamification-based solutions. That is, we start by looking at the people involved in the process and their feedback. It’s really important to know and understand the people you’re designing gamified experiences for, as they will be the direct participants. It’s also vital that you gather feedback continuously, to see what’s working and what’s not and adjust!
At Jobful, we want to transform the difficult, generally unpleasant process of recruiting employees/ applying for jobs. If you’re a company, you can use the platform to create gamified experiences (games, puzzles, academies etc.), meant to exercise all sorts of skills. If you’re looking for a job, you’ll get to play your way into building your candidate profile; no longer will you be represented by a piece of paper, such as a CV or a cover letter, but by your actual skills and competencies, represented by badges and abilities.
3. How can you assess a gamification technique before launching it?
In my opinion, 90% of all gamification methods applied worldwide are pseudo-constructive. They’re based solely on PBL – Points, Badges, Leaderboards. This entire system is a sort of black hat/ white hat type of situation. Keep them hooked by underlining the consequences (e.g. Don’t lose your streak!) – that’s the black hat part – and then “hit” them with a blissful achievement (e.g. You earned a badge!) – this, of course, being the white hat part. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it must be completed with an actual purpose. What’s the goal? What do you want to achieve? Games are fun, gamification is fun and has a purpose.
If you already feel passionate about gamification and want to know more about this PBL system, you might want to give Yu-kai Chou’s book – Actionable Gamification a read as well!
4. What are the benefits of gamification?
MC: In my opinion, the greatest benefit of gamification is that it creates engagement. Regular, repetitive tasks can blunt the employee’s experience in the workplace. Nobody can keep up the excitement when doing the same thing over and over again; it’s normal for monotony to set in. That’s where gamification comes in. It can take away the dullness in menial tasks. In the same manner, and at the opposite side of the spectrum, gamification can help in maintaining obscure information fresh in the mind of employees. Think of a procedure that gets to be applied once in a blue moon – you can make sure people will know what to do when the time comes by casually throwing in a quiz or interactive test.
5. Where can gamification be applied?
MC: That’s an easy one: everywhere. I’m not even joking, put your mind to it and you can bring gamification wherever your heart desires. Your loyalty card at the local supermarket? Gamification. Your app telling you “Welcome back!” whenever you log in? Gamification. Sometimes you don’t even realise that you’re going through a gamified process!
6. Is gamification expensive or time consuming?
MC: If you expected a clear yes/no answer on this I’m afraid I won’t be able to deliver that. To implement gamification in a company/process can be as expensive or time consuming as you want it to be. That’s the beauty of it! You can start simple and, if budget allows it, go wild!
Gamification is all about creativity and dedication. Budgets don’t necessarily limit the options when it comes to creating gamified strategies as solutions to problems. Sure, if you want the mother of all computer softwares to keep a database of the players, their scores, their tasks etc, you can do so, but be ready to prepare your wallet. Time doesn’t have to pose an issue either. If correctly identified, the challenge should be tackled using time-adjusted techniques. If you devise a 5 minute activity for a 5 minute window of free time, you shouldn’t have any surprises. So think twice, cut once.
What do you think? Is gamification the future of corporate activity? Leave your opinion in the comment section!
If you want to contact Mihai, you can do so here.