From time to time, I like to play games. It is nice to get lost in a story or get captivated by different challenges. Then, I often feel invigorated. Games have the potential to help us engage with a specific topic far more than just reading or being told about something. Some don’t like the term gaming, especially when it comes to adult learning. I like it, because it reminds me of being a child and living out my curiosity. A curiosity we all have in us, no matter which age.
In this post I want to write about the potential impact gamification elements can have on a company’s culture.
In my opinion, it comes down to for what purpose you use gamification in your company. The goal is most often to engage the workforce to learn something new or to show a certain favored behavior. They include leaderboards, badges, challenges and stories (and more) to excite the employees. As with everything, there are good ways to use gamification and not so good ones. I won’t write about each of the advantages and disadvantages here though.
What I want to talk about, is internal versus external motivation and, in turn, sustainability and how it might be able to positively affect the culture. Let us consider the example of including challenges. Let us assume, the company changes one of its programs to do business and now the employees need to be educated in operating the new system. To increase the motivation for the trainings and also the retention rate, the company set up a 10-day challenge. That is already an improvement, as people like to be challenged and to showcase their capabilities.
What I am not sure about is, how sustainable this approach can be. I know for myself, that, if I am not very engaged with the topic from the very beginning, I am less likely to take part in such a challenge, and I feel I am “forced” into taking part in something I don’t really want to do. It is an external stimulus, that shall convince me in showing a desired behavior. But what will happen after the challenge is over? Will I get another incentive? Another stimulus to keep on learning?
Often, I think, it doesn’t really matter, as those trainings need to be done quickly to make the change to the new system and to continue the work. But I want to argue, that the company overlooked a chance to improve its culture. What if, we changed the reward system? Instead of getting badges or (monetary) rewards for the fastest, or the most completion, why not implement a reward system, which fuels our innate motivation?
What motivates me most, is being able to help others or show kindness to others. Appreciation of a person is a wonderful way to make the person receiving the appreciation feel better, as well as the person giving it. So, why not implementing a reward system, that let’s all employees earn points, which they can then use for showing appreciation for a colleague. That can be something small as being able to get a card for the other person or something else. It doesn’t need to expensive or big. However, it needs to be visible to the person who receives it and to the other employees.
Even if the company culture is already good, using gamification to increase our internal motivation can be a wonderful boost. Especially in times of change. To summarize, it might be worth thinking about changing the reward structure of gamification elements. Instead of getting something for myself, I would be enabled to do something good for others. This can create a supportive and appreciative work climate. And never underestimate the importance of a good team climate. I heard a lot of statements that go as follows: I would quit, if it wasn’t for the team.
This is the chance to enable meaningful relationships at work. Hard times will come, and you will be thankful for a cohesive workforce based on an appreciative company culture.
What do you think? Am I wrong on this one? Do you see other dangers in using gamification this way? It mostly is a gut feeling and I am curious to hear what you think about it? Let me know in the comments, or write me a mail.
Have a wonderful day and take care =)