Posted by Paul Anderson

The Rise of Gamification: Is It Good or Bad?

Gamification refers to creating fun environment in an enterprise through competitive games and contests that will improve employee productivity. It is increasingly becoming popular with companies that are striving to change employee’s outlook towards the organization, infuse positive attitude and increase productivity. Many have adopted it as a part of workforce management. But it is a treacherous territory that requires careful treading.

There are lots of discussions on whether gamification is good or bad? The answer is, however, unclear. It certainly has some advantages but introducing the concept in workforce is a complex one. The risks are higher compared to other technical adoptions because of the obscured nature of its outcomes. The success of the concept depends largely on: 

  • Objective and appropriateness of the project
  • Game design
  • User adoption

Game design plays a very crucial role in determining the success of the project. Most of the gamification efforts stumble on creating an engaging and interactive game. The observation made by Gartner on gamification is particularly a grim one. It says that eighty percent of current companies that have adopted it will encounter failure by 2014 mainly because of poor design.

Since the objective is to promote healthy competition and collaboration to drive employees to be more productive the need of an engaging storyline for the game is paramount. Most organizations fail to see that point. Rather, emphasis is given on the game mechanics – badges, leaderboards etc. But what one should truly intend to achieve is a balance between competition and collaboration. If a company wants to succeed on gamification project it would need to concentrate more on designing a substantial game than giving away rewards.

Next is finding appropriateness of the project. Not every industry can thrive on gamification and if the root cause of low productivity lies elsewhere then you are not likely to succeed even with the most compelling game design. One needs to determine the end goals before implementing the project. Consider the following: 

  • Are you trying to convert a boring activity to a fun one through gamification?
  • Is it really going to help with workforce management or sales performance management?
  • How much time and energy you expect your workforce to invest in it?
  • What are the outcomes?
  • Is it really helping with improved performance or has diverted from the goal?
  • Is it promoting collaboration and interaction? 

Another important point is user acceptance. If you want to introduce gamification to your organization you’d need to do it in a subtle way. Employees shouldn’t be compelled to play games. But adoption should be gradual and spontaneous. They need to understand that it is not mandatory for them to get involved in it.