What Is Gamification and How Can It Help My Business?

It can make the workplace more fun and productive

Employees sit around a conference table playing a game

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Gamification is a tool that can help you achieve business goals. Though gamification is often used by larger organizations, small businesses can also benefit from this mindset, process, and technology. Use it the right way and plan initiatives in advance to ensure the greatest chance of success—here’s how.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of taking a regular task or project and adding an element of competition to it, such as there is in a game. It encourages participation and can improve the overall experience of completing a task or project within the business. Gamification improves an existing experience by using the same motivational techniques that make people love games.

You can gamify anything, including daily business operations, customer engagement, social media, HR management, and more. By adding games or game-like elements to a product, app or service, you can boost customer participation and loyalty, and engage your employees.

Game aspects that can be added into an existing system may include: 

  • Points and badges for actions or purchases
  • Personal or team scorecards
  • Challenges, competitions, and contests, whether individual or team-based 
  • Leaderboards that list competitors based on how many points they’ve accumulated
  • Rewards for winners and participants

How Your Small Business Can Use Gamification 

A variety of apps for desktop and mobile users can be scaled for businesses of any size. Of course, you can also create in-office games, a store reward system, or create a whiteboard leaderboard—but an instant, digital notification of a new badge might be a bit more exciting. Here are some ways small businesses might use gamification.

If you use a chat system like Slack with your employees, you can incorporate gamification into everyday communications. For example, you can create a channel specifically for announcing new employee competitions, or even use Slack to gather team suggestions for future games.

Reward Customers

One small gym in California used a points-based system to boost customer referrals and member retention. Members could earn points for a variety of actions, including social media posts and friend referrals. Points could then be traded in for perks like gym credits or protein powder. 

Your small business customers might also enjoy earning points for spending money, attending classes, posting or checking-in on social media, and more.  

Gamify Onboarding and Training

An app allows you to take new-employee or skill training out of the paper manual and onto the screen with quiz modules, employee-versus-employee contests, or group trivia. 

Create Competitions

For example, your small business might have a marketing or sales contest—perhaps between individuals or teams—with a prize for the winning person or group. Some gamification apps created for this purpose have real-time leaderboards, too. 

Bestow Employee Awards

Fitbit gives badges for steps, but your small business can give badges for employee goals, customer satisfaction, an employee of the month, or other defined categories. As a bonus, add instant notifications or public acknowledgment of achievements, such as featuring the winner on your company’s social media channels. Of course, the stakes may be even higher if you throw in a trip to Hawaii for the most helpful employee. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it.

Pitfalls to Avoid With Gamification at Work

By taking the time to plan the gamification project, you can avoid a number of common pitfalls that may occur when rushing into it.

Giving Out the Wrong Rewards

Motivate your team with participation prizes that they actually want. Talk to your team or customers and learn what they’d appreciate as a reward for their work or loyalty. It could be more paid time off, a chance to work from home for a day, or maybe a gift card to their favorite restaurant or grocery store.

Rewards don’t need to be monetary to motivate. They could simply be much-appreciated recognition.

Not Preventing Unfair Advantages

Matching employees with others who have a similar chance of success could backfire. Allow your team to have equal chances at winning the competition by letting them pick their own teams or even assigning them partners at random. Consider switching it up every time a new game is released at work, too, to keep it as fair as possible.

Rewarding the Wrong Behavior

If you’re not clear in your game rules about desired metrics, goals, and outcomes, you may be more susceptible to rewarding the wrong behavior. Employees should understand they’re part of a fair and objective system where they have a real chance of success. 

Starting the Wrong Kind of Competition

Gamification should foster team member cooperation and collaboration. A winner-take-all approach may lead to hard feelings and office hostility. Aim to avoid this so that all members are bought-in for the long term. You wouldn’t want to risk losing employees over the wrong kind of competition at work.

The Bottom Line 

When done right, gamification can encourage your employees to improve sales numbers, increase customer satisfaction, better engage your customers with your brand, and more. No matter your goal, there’s a gamification solution that will work to get the job done and take your small business to the next level.

Article Sources

  1. Perkville. "9round Hooks Customers With Perkville." Accessed Feb.11, 2020.