How Gamification Can Improve Digital Employee Engagement

How Gamification Can Take Digital Employee Engagement

The word “gamification” may often leave many organizations confused when they are asked to relate it to their workplace. Courtesy, the common human tendency to perceive it as a “non-serious” activity or distraction from serious work.

This article attempts to explain what gamification is and what it is not. Also, it will provide a deep insight into its marvelous role in motivating the employees who may have got bored of doing even the “best” work in the “best” possible ways.

Gamification is a scientific and technology-driven process/ method that combines the use of technology in motivating the employees to score points in the game as a personal challenge. The method of gamification involves badges, leader boards and points for rewards, achievement and recognition.

A 2014 sample survey in the US, conducted by Technology Advice, revealed that only 29 percent of Americans were emotionally engaged with their work. It was estimated that US businesses lose between $450 and $550 billion per year due to disengagement.

Most businesses worldwide would agree upon this, that over a period of time even the best of the employees tend to get disengaged with the regular way of doing things. This directly affects productivity.

A Gartner blog titled, “Engagification”of the Enterprise – Gamification and Employee Engagement, rightly explains “Why do we need to consider gamification in our workplace transformation efforts?”

“According to John Kotter, 70% of business transformation efforts fail. Add to that the impact of 71% of American workers who are not engaged or actively disengaged from their work (according to Gallup), and less likely to be productive. This paints a dismal picture for business change and transformation efforts as organizations are clearly not addressing the fundamentals needed for success. Technology, the program plan and/or a lack of vision are not the root issues; it’s the lack of engagement and buy-in from employees who need to embrace new ways of working,” the blog reads.

How and Why Gamification Works Well in Digital Employee Engagement

The element of glass ceiling strikes even the most highly motivated and oriented employees in various organizations. Irrespective of the designation, monthly paychecks, the same stimulus adds boredom in the schedule of most employees.

If this is a situation even you are struggling with or have been through, gamification would make much more sense to you. Gamification does not change the work responsibilities or tasks but adds fun to the way of doing it.

You can understand more on digital employee engagement by reading How a Truly Digital Workplace can Improve Engagement, Agility and Productivity of your Employees.

When verbal rewards or feedback tend to be ineffective, gamification can pump excitement into a workplace by bringing competition, scores, rewards and feedback on a single platform for the employees. Not only does this rev up employees at work but also adds transparency in the process of evaluations.

It is often easier said than done that “work should be fun”. But gamification makes it easy. Take a look at the key advantages/merits of Gamification, as defined by Gamification expert Horst Streck (also known as Gamifier)

  • educate employees fast;
  • motivate employees;
  • improve involvement of employees;
  • optimize internal processes;
  • achieve higher conversions;
  • create loyal customers;
  • reach a higher turnover.

Another crucial role that gamification plays is of consistent and fast feedback for the employees. As Forrester points out that annual or bi-annual performance reviews may soon take a backseat, constant feedback through a mobile experience can be next big thing in successful businesses.

“The typical annual or semiannual cadence of performance reviews is not frequent enough to meet the changing pace of business. Praising accomplishments or suggesting improvements based on activity that occurred months ago is of little value in guiding future performance. Today’s millennial employees demand continuous feedback and want more transparent, analytic, and concise feedback delivered via a mobile experience,” states a Forrester report.


Issues Gamification Can Resolve

Gamification can potentially resolve basic issues circling around employees and employers.

Communication – Communication is one of the prime challenges among employees. Whether an employee communicates with a senior or junior colleague, the gap remains unfilled. Also, since most of the communication takes place when the managers remain physically away from the employees, it increases the scope of communication gap.

One great solution to meet the communication gap between the employees is the use of instant messaging. The weekly meetings, client calls and even the communication lingo can be gamified to enhance the communication and generate enthusiasm in the employees.

The communication goals are thus, managed well using gamification methods. For instance, the communication goals can be specified for each employee and they can be rated in meeting these goals (during customer interactions or communications within teams) per week.

Here, those communicating well or scoring high can be rewarded.

Confidence, trust and efficiency – Gamification can find a prominent role in measuring productivity and performance. A performance reviewing tool (framed under Gamification) can keep track of the specific employees’ performance over a long period of time. Here, the scope for transparency would always remain on the higher side. The employees will have no question on impartial treatments as everything will be assessed on the basis of individual scores-visible to all other competitors.

This way, the organizations will also be able to boost productivity as the employees would perform their best with the trust over the evaluation of results. Also, gamification of tasks will lead the employees unconsciously compete more and make enormous efforts to win the game.

Training and boosting work culture – Even though the employees located in remote areas have technology at their disposal to remain connected with the organizations, their training and constant exposure to the organization’s work culture remains a challenge. Gamification can paint this picture better by indulging these remote employees in games that bring them on the same platform with the on-board employees.

Training can also be imparted through gamification tools.

What Gamification is Not

The word gamification can mislead many, initially. But the truth is that it has got nothing to do with games in reality.

Gartner defines gamification as the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. So, it is clear that gamification has nothing to relate with games. It has more to do with the business objectives and goals, which can be better achieved through employee motivation and digital employee engagement.

How to Leverage Gamification in Digital Employee Engagement


One thumb rule for effectively leveraging gamification for employee engagement is to ensure that the gamification method resolves specific issues. The solutions derived out of the results should always be in line with the per-defined job functions. Solutions must be designed to meet job goals.

1. Appoint a digital employee engagement advocate – This point person has to be experienced enough to understand the entire concept of gamification, goals, technology involved in it and the advantages of the exercise. This person should be assigned the responsibility to conceptualize gamification in different work roles within the organizations. He or she should also be the consultant for employees facing difficulties in adapting to the gamification methods.

2. Allow certification of employee engagement advocate – The point person must be resorted to enough training and certification to meet the requirements of the role. The training and certification should help me brush up his knowledge on various gamification methods and develop an all-round proficiency.

3. Enlist the employee issues where engagement is minimum – Gamification should not be adopted randomly in any of the employee issues. Before getting started with the process, it is imperative for the organizations to first identify core areas where the employee engagement rate is less. These issues can become potential platforms for the gamification framework.

4. Ensure delightful rewards – The rewards must be chosen or decided meticulously to ensure that the employees feel the worth of it. It should be enticing enough to keep the employees focused on the tasks.

5. Include loss aversions – In all likelihood, gamification platforms can face non- compliance by employees or many would still take it slow. Then how would you overcome that slow movement or dwindling participation? One way is to ensure that you give the participants the option of losing one prominent score or asset in the game (unless they continue the game).

6. Catch the nerve of employee through status elevators – Consistent recognition, the feeling of being better over others in a specific task or even a high reputation is something that delights most employees. If a gamification method brings these gains to them on a regular basis, the purpose of gamification will be served right.

7. Constant feedback – The real purpose of feedback is to convey to the user that his or her actions are being noted and recorded and he or she is approaching towards the end goal. It serves as a signal over the outcomes of the process or game and helps the users learn and react better in consequent actions. Feedback also renders the employee addicted to the game as he tries over and over again to yield the desired feedback.

Some of the Best Gamification Examples in Businesses

Though Gamification was introduced in the businesses quite a while ago, what keeps up the novelty is the technology that it adopts.

Top Examples of Gamification in Business as defined by are below:

1. US Army – To start with an interesting example of gamification in action, here’s a promotional/recruiting tool that generated quite a lot of controversy. America’s Army was developed by the US Army to serve as a recruitment tool. Candidates interested in enrolling can sign up, download the game for free and test their skills in this multiplayer strategic shooter environment to see if they’re soldier material.

2. M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel – This is a gamification classic. In 2013, M&M’s launched an incredibly successful game as a part of its M&M’s pretzel marketing campaign. The game was based on the eye-spy logic – it was inexpensive and simple, and yet became an instant hit among the audience of M&M’s.

3. NikeFuel – Nike has launched a campaign called NikeFuel a part of its vast Nike+ community. In NikeFuel, users compete against each other in the daily amount of physical activity. An app on their smartphone would note all activities performed by users and transcribe them into points.

4. Keas – Keas is a smart employee wellness platform used by many organization to keep lower group health insurance costs and maintain low expenses related to events such as unnecessary sick days. In its operation, Keas employs gamification by allowing workers from client companies to log into their personal dashboards. Here they can view their statistics, earn awards for achievements like completing tasks or support co-workers for getting closer towards their goals.

5. ChoreWars – Even if it sounds childish, ChoreWars proved to be a great tool to boost motivation at the office – especially for completing mundane tasks that simply need to be done. CoreWars can be configured to serve as a one-off contest – perfect if you’d like to get employees back in action.

6. Starbucks – Starbucks is known for its care when it comes to customer and employee loyalty and engagement. My Starbucks Rewards is an example of such a technique, where gamification serves to transform a traditional card loyalty program into something much more complex.

7. 4Food – 4food website is basically like one exciting game. You can have a look at company values presented in badges, ‘flip the bird’ for discount offers or even build your own burger – this is a kind of customer experience that users won’t easily forget.


Gamification is not only about transforming tasks and processes into a game. It is about deriving the maximum employee productivity by motivating through best ideas and tools. Loyalty programs and customer-centric tasks, when gamified, can yield the most favorable business outcomes.

While Gamification can be fitted into any area within a business, it can best be utilized to motivate employees who are least engaged or have minimum scope for feedback and motivation. Retail giant Target picked up one such segment of employees and set an exceptional example of gamification at workplace. They chose the cashiers as the target users for gamification. The most common feedback for the cashier is when the counter runs short of change or processes slow. In order to motivate the cashiers, the company introduced a game where the cashier clearly highest number of bills in a limited time frame would be rewarded.

As the problem of employee disengagement is universal, gamification has emerged as one of the most promising solution for enterprises to overcome this challenge and ensure productivity. A key advantage of gamification is the minimal investment it seeks.

If you are looking for any help on building any digital solution for better customer or employee engagement, please contact us at [email protected].

Harpal Boparai

About the Author

Filled with the energy of coding and development, he has made his way from a rookie developer to Project Lead all with his knowledge and thirst to learn and apply the best. Harpal Boparai’s devotion lies in practicing what is best according to the industry standards and he will never let you go without the perfect solution when you approach him with a query. A certified Google Clouds Developer he is the perfect example of how hard work makes one successful. Famous for his rib-tickling jokes amongst his friends, he is not just an experienced professional but also a knowledgeable guide for all his subordinates.

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest


Articles written by industry experts about things that matter most in designing and building Digital Products and Platforms for Startups and Enterprises.

Subscribe to our

Digital Insights

Follow us on:

Aw, yeah! That was a smart move.

We have sent a short welcome email your way.