How To Grow Engagement With Employee Gamification (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 1, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Video: How to Motivate Employees with Dr. Athina Kanioura of PepsiCo

As Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at Pepsico, Dr. Athina makes it her mission to keep her employees motivated so they can find true success in their roles.

Employee gamification helps employers and managers keep professionals interested and competitive at work. It’s a popular way to keep people engaged in tasks they may not otherwise find entertaining, which can include everything from exercising to working. Understanding this engagement strategy can help organizational leaders motivate the members of their workforce and increase company-wide productivity.

In this article, we explain what employee gamification is, describe how to use it and provide a list of tips for engaging employees with this technique.

What is employee gamification?

Employee gamification is a method of keeping employees engaged in their role by creating competitions that make aspects of their job seem like a game. While organizations may use gamification outside of the workplace, including in schools, companies typically use it to get employees to be active in reaching individual and business goals.

It may be difficult for leaders to motivate team members to strive for larger objectives, so using a game to break them into smaller goals can help keep everyone focused.

For example, a retail store can create a competition for which cashiers can get the most customers to sign up for the store's credit card because the store has a total goal of opening 300 credit card accounts that month. This may include weekly prizes and an overall monthly prize for first, second and third places.

Related: What Is Gamification? Definition and Implementation Tips

How to use employee gamification

Here are the steps you can take to add employee gamification to your workplace:

1. Understand business goals

The primary purpose of employee gamification is to help a business meet its goals by motivating employees to commit to their role and job duties. Before determining the best methods for gamification for your department or team members, it's important to identify your business's goals.

For instance, the owners or shareholders may want to increase sales, which would require a gamification effort that helps employees focus on growing their sales numbers. Alternatively, internal leaders may want employees to have increased training, so they gamify training efforts to make them more engaging. 

Related: What Are Business Goals? Definition, Steps and Examples

2. Understand your employees

Another important aspect of developing the right gamification for your employees is to understand your team members’ strengths and what motivates them.

You may want to consider if winning a cash prize or an exciting perk can motivate your employees, or if there are other prizes you can think of that make people eager to compete. Understanding what your employees are capable of can help you set goals or identify achievable ways to win to avoid frustration and help your team remain positive.

Related: 8 Ideas for Engaging Competition in the Workplace

3. Choose a gamification method

Once you've identified your business goals and your employees' needs, you can determine the right gamification method for each goal. Companies or departments can use gamification software for this purpose or create their own format for gamification.

You may find that certain types of gamification can be more effective for certain types of goals or workplaces. For example, an app that’s made for employee gamification can be useful for a remote workforce who may not be able to track their progress through a centralized office board.

Related: 16 Employee Engagement Tools That Companies Can Use

4. Offer multiple options for gamification

Employee gamification usually requires a few options to keep all employees engaged, particularly since workplaces typically have a variety of roles. The most effective gamification strategies for a sales team are likely to be quite different from the most effective ones for an accounting team.

Having different options available, even for those in the same role, may help keep work interesting for everyone. You don't have to use them all at once, and instead, you can stagger how you schedule them to maintain engagement.

Related: How To Measure Employee Engagement

5. Make it fun

Gamification is supposed to be fun, so it's important to remember to keep any gamification you implement in your workplace entertaining for those involved. This might mean encouraging participation or allowing for discussion about the gamified goals.

It can also mean allowing extra time for professionals participating in gamification to complete their regular tasks. For example, if you have a work-related trivia event, this may need to take place during the workday to ensure as many employees as possible can participate.

Related: 7 Fun Team-Building Activities for Work

6. Reward successes

When employees are successful at any gamification events or goals, it's important to reward those successes. The rewards may be financial, such as a gift card or cash prize, or they may be a simple badge or recognition for employees' efforts.

The right rewards can vary depending on the type of business, the size of the achievement and the employees involved. You should make the rewards for winning clear to employees throughout the process, as that can help motivate people to compete and win.

Related: 70 Creative Ways To Reward Employees (Plus Why It Matters)

7. Evolve and change

Once you've begun adding gamification to your workplace, you may discover that employees grow less motivated when the company uses the same competitions or games repeatedly. A good way to avoid this is to evolve and change your employee gamification efforts.

You may decide to compete for different goals or use new game formats. You may also discover that the right one changes for your organization over time because of employees joining or leaving teams, as the current staff may have different interests and motivators than previous employees.

Tips for engaging employees with gamification

Some tips for engaging employees with gamification include:

  • Use technology effectively. There are apps that can allow your employees to compete within the app or to track the progress of the whole team. You may also find that allowing employees to communicate about any competition increases engagement.

  • Supply random fun. You can add to the employee gamification by recognizing employee efforts unexpectedly through a surprise reward or by allowing employees to spin a prize wheel for a bonus to what they've won. This keeps employees interested in what happens next.

  • Show progress. Whether it's in an app, via email or posted at your workplace, showing how employees are progressing can help keep them interested. This is especially important for goals that take longer to achieve.

  • Communicate. Explain to your employees why you're adding gamification to the workplace and allow them to provide feedback on what they want, what is or isn't working and what they might be interested in for future efforts.

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