Utilizing Gamification to Authentically Inspire the Workforce

Steve Shenbaum, President & Founder, Game On Nation

Steve Shenbaum, President & Founder, Game On Nation

Ten years ago, you may have not fully grasped how the growing obsession with online games like Farmville and Candy Crush could correlate to your workforce. Further evidence through the Pokémon GO phenomena in 2016 shows that the impact of the game dynamics in play are more than just a user experience (UX) through technology. And though you may have had little interest or time to chase and capture characters that did not exist in real form, with more than 500 million downloads in 2016, it’s imperative that we begin to explore and understand what drove millions of people to commit hundreds of hours of their real time to seek an inanimate object with such passion.

And now the new sensation is Fortnite, a co-op sandbox survival game. You may not even know what “co-op sandbox survival” means (I had to Google it). But even with my limited understanding of terms, I found myself spending two hours online watching someone play the game, and I was utterly captivated. Even observing second hand, you can experience just enough dopamine release to feel the game’s intoxicating power.

These games are certainly influencing behavior for better and worse, depending on its use and your perspective. If we agree on its power to influence behavior, how do we get back to the importance of authentic connection and real life relationships? And why should we embrace gamification when it seems as if we should be trying to get our employees to be less dependent on certain time consuming technology? The simple answer is to use the same dynamics embedded in all of these games to incentivize your workforce in real life.

  Using gamification in a purposeful and productive manner to intentionally motivate and help improve efficiency is not as complicated as it may seem  

And the beauty of this approach? It’s free.

If we as leaders can understand and embrace how recent technological developments and transformations in gamification are impacting our business environment, we can use these dynamics in a productive manner to encourage, motivate and authentically incentivize our work force. Make this your mission.

For example, if an employee is willing to pay real money to obsessively check their fake tomatoes in Farmville, perhaps that same passion to solve the mystery of the farm can be used to be more efficient at work. If an employee is willing to spend an afternoon capturing imaginary characters in Pokémon, perhaps that incentive to complete a task can help a company solve a crucial dilemma on a project.

Through our extensive research of the aforementioned video games and many more, four powerful and prevalent game dynamics are most often at play: Mystery, Incentive, Laughter and Empowerment. You can take this concept, MILE, and embed it into your day-to-day operations at the office to create real motivation and create daily habits for a lasting impact.

Embrace MYSTERY: Create a sense of curiosity and discovery to set the tone for creative discussion and a “puzzle-solving” mentality. By learning to embed a sense of Mystery and simple intrigue in your work, you will help avoid getting stuck in the boredom of routine and move into a mindset of exploration and solution.

Identify INCENTIVE: True motivation starts within. Get back in touch with your “why” or purpose for leading and start each work day with tangible, quantifiable tasks that you can reasonably check off the list. Use this checklist to prepare with excellence while focusing on the needs of your team and clientele, rather than focusing on circumstances beyond your control.

Enjoy LAUGHTER: Take back the power of humor and make it a positive source of motivation by laughing WITH instead of at. Experience healthy, appropriate laughter within your work day and give your colleagues permission to enjoy laughter and the authentic bonds and trust created through a culture of “I’ve got your back.”

Accept EMPOWERMENT: Take pride in your individual work flow while owning your responsibilities to your team as a whole. When you accept your empowerment, you can be fueled by a renewed sense of purpose, feeling confident in the belief that you are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to impact people’s lives.

Using gamification in a purposeful and productive manner to intentionally motivate and help improve efficiency is not as complicated as it may seem. And it’s not a mathematical derivative that needs decoding. It’s learning enough about the power of these dynamics and using them in a caring and purposeful manner while implementing them into everything we do as leaders.

If we realize all human beings are starving for authentic connection, belonging, improvement and encouragement, we can game the game and use technology advancements in gamification to positively impact our businesses and become addicted to improving the world.

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