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How Gamification Is Revolutionizing the Workplace

How Gamification Is Revolutionizing the Workplace

Rajat Paharia



Note: This blog post was orginally published on12/11/14, and was updated on 3/27/2020

By Rajat Paharia, Founder and Chief Product Officer

It’s that time of year – the season for fresh starts, resolutions to improve and bold new initiatives. We’ve come a long way from questions like, “What is gamification?” Today, most business execs know the definition of gamification, and they recognize it as a data-driven motivation strategy that can improve company performance across the board. Many are eager to get platforms in place in the New Year because they understand that engaged employees form the foundation of the service-profit chain.

If you have questions about gamification in the workplace and how it can improve business results for your company, let me break it down. Here are the top reasons why I predict gamification will revolutionize the workplace:

Gamification taps into intrinsic motivators. We all share the same basic intrinsic motivators, factors that inspire us to initiate an activity for its own sake, because it is interesting and satisfying in itself. The five most important intrinsic motivators – Autonomy (“I control”), Mastery (“I improve”), Purpose (“I make a difference”), Progress (“I achieve”) and Social Interaction (“I connect with others”) – are common to everyone, and behavioral research has shown that satisfying them can make anyone’s work more productive and more pleasing. That means gamification can be used to unlock potential across all employees, all job titles and all departments.

Gamification in the workplace connects the dots between employee motivation and company success. Tapping into your employees’ intrinsic motivators is necessary, but it’s not sufficient. You also need to be able to connect their increased engagement directly to the company’s better performance. In other words, a well-designed gamification platform starts by inspiring active participation geared to specific business goals. Then, it monitors results, measures the business impacts and supports perpetual learning and improvements that fuel even greater satisfaction and engagement.

Gamification is data-driven. Simply put, gamification uses data to motivate performance. Years ago, most business got done in face-to-face meetings or via memos sent around the office. But today, sales, training, service, collaboration and almost every other aspect of business occurs in systems that produce mountains of data. Gamification platforms capture the relevant data and put it to work to create engaging experiences that drive performance, business results and competitive advantage. With gamification, you can use data to build a 360-degree view of all your employees and take advantage of opportunities to motivate them everywhere they work.

Gamification is sustainable and proven – across sectors and departments. Bunchball’s 350+ customers span every industry you can imagine, and our gamification platform is helping them improve business results in a variety of different ways. For example, gamification is being used to:

  • Increase adoption and use of learning management tools. The financial services company Sun Life Financial created a gamified learning management tool called money UP. This online education platform has helped Sun Life’s customers inspire financial literacy in their employees, while simultaneously improving participation in savings and retirement plans at work. How? By explaining workplace retirement and savings information via a series of missions that are progressively challenging, yet attainable. In the first six months after launch, Sun Life customers who implemented money UP saw that 33 percent of their employees who finished Level 1 increased their retirement contributions and/or added a new product. Of those who added a new product, 88 percent also added new assets to their plans. The latest results show that participants who've taken action have increased contributions, on average, by an impressive 74 percent.
  • Promote retention and results among hourly employees. RMH Franchise Corporation, which operates more than 130 Applebee’s restaurants throughout the United States, is using a gamified website called Bee Block to tap into the motivations of its hourly workforce. When logged in, employees can manage their profiles, review their own data and participate in automated challenges broadcast in real-time via “Bee TVs” placed strategically throughout restaurant workstations. Early results show improvements in employee engagement and a 20 percent reduction in turnover – that’s striking, considering the average turnover for hourly-employed restaurant workers is 125 percent! Ultimately, one of RMH’s goals is to transform its wait staff and bartenders from “order-takers” to sellers – a change that could have a big impact on revenue overall.
  • Drive up employee knowledge sharing to increase service levels. After T-Mobile incorporated gamification within their employee collaboration platform, participation increased 96 percent, contributions jumped up 583 percent and responses skyrocketed 783 percent. The company also saw a 31 percent improvement in customer satisfaction scores, 40 percent improvement in call deflection resulting in reduced support costs and month-over-month improvement of call resolution rates and customer satisfaction scores.
  • Boost call center employee performance and satisfaction. Gamification in the workplace helped Allied Global make real, measurable improvements to its call center KPIs. Allied used gamification to reduce employee turnover, improve workflow and create a winning feeling among call center agents –all of which helps the company deliver the best quality service in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Enhance customer loyalty and drive revenue. The Coca-Cola Company used gamification to update its loyalty program and connect the brand with new, younger consumers at scale. Leveraging its “Open Happiness” mantra, Coke wanted its loyalty program to convey happiness to site visitors, drive repeat visits and encourage users to share content with their networks and grow the community. The brand expanded its definition of rewards to include extrinsic elements such as exclusive and advance access, and intrinsic rewards such as badges and experiences. The new platform allows My Coke Rewards to reward both social and interactional loyalty – but not only on a transactional basis – and early figures for membership and social engagement have exceeded expectations.

As you can see from even this small sampling of examples, gamification has application throughout the workplace, and done right, it can impact employees from all generations, departments, tenures and educational backgrounds. Moving forward, I fully anticipate that we’ll be hearing many more success stories from companies using gamification to achieve real business results.

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