Gamification (like ‘engagement’) is starting to become one of those words that’s thrown around willy-nilly. Is it just another buzz word, or can it really help engage employees?

We should probably start by defining what gamification actually is. Kris Duggan, founder of Badgeville describes gamification as “taking techniques that make games engaging and addictive and applying them to things that are not games”. Badgeville is the number 1 gamification platform for business, so he should know.

‘Things that aren’t games’ covers pretty much everything. You only have to look closely at the things you use every day and you’ll find elements of gamification. What about LinkedIn and its ‘Profile Strength’ pie-chart that isn’t really a pie chart? Gamification. (I’m an All-Star I’ll have you know). Sainsbury’s Nectar points that can be exchanged for rewards? Gamification. And how about Dropbox offering additional storage in return for referring friends? Gamification.

But how can gamification be used in the workplace?

A few well-known tech companies use gamification for staff appraisals, ranking staff by their performance to encourage improvement and decide who gets a bonus and who doesn’t. The danger of this is that employees are compared and ranked based on their peers. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve practised playing Mario Kart on the Wii, not everyone can come in at first place.

At Benefex we’ve been known to create our own versions of well-known game shows to help new starters understand their employee benefit packages and other complex topics such as auto-enrolment. Anyone for a game of ‘Play your benefits right’? Taking the competition element from gaming encourages active participation and keeps interest up throughout the whole process.

There are many aspects that can be taken from gaming and used to your advantage, storytelling for one. Telling your company’s ‘story’ can not only be a good recruitment tool, but will also encourage people to get involved and become part of the story themselves. Just like Dungeons and Dragons. Well, sort of.

This, by all means, isn’t the complete list of things that can be learnt from gaming. If anything it’s merely a good excuse to go and play your favourite game to look for inspiration. Here’s a few of our favourites, and what we’ve taken from them:

Monopoly – strategy

Think ahead and make a plan. Don’t get sent to jail.

Call of Duty – collaboration

Team work and communication are vital. Every man for himself always ends in tears.

The Sims – personality

Human beings act on emotion. Add some personality into your messages and don’t take away any ladders from the swimming pool.

Hungry Hippos – timing

Timing is key. Don’t send an email out at 6.30 on a Friday afternoon, you won’t catch any little white balls at that time of day.

Flappy Bird – repeatability

Make tasks that require a lot of repetitive learning interesting. And don’t back out just as you start making the mega-bucks

Moshi Monsters – fun

Don’t forget to include an element of fun. Games would be nothing if they weren’t fun.

Candy Crush Saga – reward

Reward employees for coming back to tasks and completing them to the best of their ability. Gold stars work a treat.

Pokemon – gotta catch ‘em all

Capture stats and feedback to improve what you do next time.

Have you used any gamification aspects in something other than a game? What are you favourite games of all time? Let us know in the comment section below…