Serious Gamification at Work: For the Win

Taking gamification seriously can lead to wins for both managers and employees.

Get Serious: Gamification FTW

Managers want their team members to play well together, but leaders have no desire to micromanage. It’s called “walking a tightrope.” They want their team members to take personal responsibility so they don’t have to account to their directors for lack of results. They want to see productivity, effectiveness and achievement beyond stated standards—without the team rocking the boat. The challenge is to instill entrepreneurial accountability without awakening the loose-cannon gene.

Gamification to Achieve Enterprise Standards

Gamification can help teach ideals once taught in the schools and necessary for success in the start-up and corporate environments—work ethic, proper work attitude and general ethics along with a collaborative but competitive team spirit as defined by the corporate culture. Incorporating soft-skill games into the learning curriculum can achieve a team that flows, that works together in harmony. There’s nothing frivolous about enticing engagement through games and rewarding achievement with badges and/or status. Creating game apps for mobile devices can reinforce little snippets of learning while individual employees wait for the subway or stand in line somewhere. Snippets add up to serious learning over time.

Consistency in Messaging

Implementing games is no guarantee of creating miracles in a diseased corporate environment. If your goal is to use games to bring together the enterprise, the corporate vision, goals and strategy have to be accessible and visible to everyone. Look to today’s headlines to see how incongruous words and actions lead to cynicism. Make sure your games align with the rest of your in-house communication efforts and with the corporate culture. Fold the message into corporate social networks and reinforce team spirit by extending recognition and praise to employees through your social media.

When Gamification Fails

Some topics fail at gamification and are best suited to role-playing in the classroom. The authorities often mandate these topics for compliance, though some compliance training lends itself to gamification. For example, you can teach local irrigation and fertilization ordinances with gamification for the win. Learning about Title VII discrimination laws and sexual harassment laws probably require blended learning. An instructor can delineate the fine line between tacky and illegal. Face-to-face role-playing can clarify rules for sensitive topics. Some learning requires a human touch. You wouldn’t want to teach employees how to notify next of kin when a fatality occurs on company property. The trick to games is using them for the win and losing them when they fail.