If it seems like "games at work" is a bad idea, you may not understand what gamification in the workplace really means.

If it seems like "games at work" is a bad idea, you may not understand what gamification in the workplace really means. Of course, no business leader wants employees to spend their working hours playing Candy Crush — but the right type of gaming can be an office asset.

"Gamification" means applying the essence of games to organizational processes, such as incorporating fun, competition and rewards into training, development, customer service or other business processes. And with technology's power to make work fun and mimic the essence of play, it's no wonder that growing numbers of companies are implementing gaming into the workplace. So it's worth considering how games could help benefit productivity, engagement and your bottom line.

Unite a Far-Flung Workforce

Growing numbers of businesses are using gaming to help foster unity and camaraderie among employees who may work across town — or around the world — from each other. For instance, with virtual or augmented reality, teams that may have once seemed disconnected can now hold meetings that feel face-to-face, complete with a 3-D conference room, chairs, table and coffee. The use of virtual reality is growing quickly: Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2025, the virtual and augmented reality market will reach $80 billion, about the size of today's PC market.

Sharpen Skills

Participating in a video game with specific objectives can help improve workers' skills, including memory, reaction time and quick thinking. Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, for instance, recently showed that a well-designed video game could drastically improve the mental processes (memory, accuracy and response times) of older adults, giving 60-year-olds the mental skills of someone two decades younger. In addition, the cognitive effects lasted for six months after playing the game for several hours over a few weeks.

Boost Engagement

Just as video games like Minecraft and Candy Crush can have you constantly coming back for more, incorporating gamification into business processes can help increase employee engagement. For instance, Deloitte integrated gamification into its online training modules, incorporating "missions" for each user and the opportunity to earn "badges" and unexpected rewards. Within three months, the number of users returning to the training site on a daily basis increased almost 47 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review.

So, how can you incorporate gaming at your workplace?

While a number of technology vendors offer business gamification tools and solutions, you can implement gaming techniques without even using technology. For instance, you can create a point system for your sales team, your customer service team or any other goal-oriented department. When an employee accumulates a certain number of points, reward them with a unique badge that represents their accomplishment.

Be sure the terms of the game are clearly communicated to employees, with a note as to what performance indicators, if any, may be made available to other workers. It's important to get employee consent before they participate. Consider adding policies around the game to your employee handbook, and having employees sign and acknowledge.

If you want to involve technology or virtual reality, look into affordable tools like Officevibe, Perkville and Kudos, which make it easy to incorporate gaming techniques into your own business processes. With gamification in the workplace, getting into the game has never been easier — and winning has never been more rewarding.


Tags: employee management engagement