Children’s author Dr. Seuss once wrote, “Fun is good.” A simple statement, but one that’s hard to argue with—particularly in the workforce. Most people spend more time in the office than they do in their homes (not to mention the fact that work typically sneaks into downtime as well). So, it follows that work itself should be as fun as possible.
This is the concept behind gamification, a prevalent enterprise trend in recent years, and one that shows no sign of slowing down. Forbes contributor David Cherrie described the appeal thusly in a recent article, “When we make something more game-like, we make it more engaging, more motivating, and more fun… this is why gamification is so powerful when applied to tasks or jobs, where motivation and engagement are difficult to secure.” He recommends the following considerations for companies looking to incorporate more gamification techniques in their business:
Leaderboards: Rather than focusing on lofty goals like sales quotas or annual targets, effective leaderboards should analyze how employees are performing relative to their coworkers in the same or similar position.
Tokens: Stars for good behavior aren’t just for the Dr. Seuss set. Cherrie suggests companies utilize physical tokens to reward good work that can be traded in for something more valuable, for example, flex-time or a gift card to the local coffee shop.
Titles: People naturally appreciate public recognition and catchy titles. Rewarding a top performer at the weekly staff meeting with a “Maverick” title, accompanied by a week’s access to a premium parking spot or similar perk, can go a long way in incentivizing others.
Gamification isn’t just a strategy for those already in the workforce. Jessica Trybus, founder of Simcoach Games, was recently interviewed by VentureBeat about her company, which uses mobile games to help students figure out what a career in fields like construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and IT is really like.
As Trybus describes it, these and other fields can be difficult for prospective workers to understand and evaluate whether their skills would be a good match. She told VentureBeat, “Games can be a good medium to assess or reaffirm interests and aptitudes in a positive way… for some of these large, important, innovative industries, there are stereotypes—even a stigma—to what these jobs are and who is or should be occupying them.”
Going on to describe a game that reaffirms STEM-related skills, Trybus stressed that students have changed the course of their studies and/or careers as a result of this form of gamification. As this new generation continues to enter the workforce in larger numbers, companies should tap into the power of fun and ensure they have a gamification framework in place to engage with, motivate, and reward these individuals.