Fun and games: is Gamification the new key to professional development?

So Christmas is fast approaching, festive spirit is in the air, and soon there’ll be presents littering the bedrooms of excited children everywhere. Toys and games still take top spot on their Christmas lists – who wants socks? – but research suggests that gaming may be creeping onto the Christmas lists of adults too. Well, workplace Christmas lists anyway.

In recent years, there’s been a much bigger emphasis on the potential of gamification – the process of assigning traditional gaming elements (like points, badges, and leaderboards) to non-game-based contexts – for enhancing performance and productivity in the workplace. While it’s traditionally used in marketing and customer retention, 79% of employees say that employee-focused gamification would make them more productive[i].

But doesn’t incorporating gamification into our work make it superficial and frivolous? Far from it. Our organisations don’t have to be about all work no play. Gamification isn’t just a temporary fad of the minority either, since 55% of Americans say they’d be interested in a company that’s adopted it as a key part of its strategy for engagement and productivity[ii]. Why should we be sceptical of introducing gamification into our organisations – particularly when it’s been proven to boost motivation and performance[iii]?

There are several reasons behind gamification’s growing workplace popularity. First of all, there’s the social element. Whether the atmosphere’s one of light enjoyment or fierce competition, gaming brings people together. After all, have you ever tried to play monopoly by yourself? Without bending the rules, it’s probably downright impossible.

Humans are social creatures, and it’s our inherent nature to seek out interaction. In the workplace, we’re often required to work in teams, fulfilling our desire to belong in a group. Throwing gamification into the mix – for learning, development, or just to inject a bit of fun into dull corporate processes – only increases this sense of community, belonging, and ‘togetherness’, as well as enhancing engagement, satisfaction and creativity.

Then there’s the fact that we learn primarily through play. It’s an integral part of our childhood. We imagine stories with action figures, concoct mud pies in the garden, and dress up shamelessly as our favourite characters. It’s how we start to make sense of the world. And the clincher? It’s active. When we play, we’re encouraged to think and do. And it’s by thinking and doing that we acquire new skills and knowledge.

The workplace is no different. We’re living in a world where professional growth and development has become a prerogative of many employees. And while we may be beyond action figures, mud pies and cosplay (alright, maybe we’re not entirely over the last one), we’re certainly not unable to learn through gameplay.

The basic structure of gaming encourages it. We have objectives to obtain and obstacles to overcome, and we’re rewarded if we’re successful. And this is the elixir of learning. We encounter problems, find the answers, and are rewarded with improved knowledge and ability. Having problems to solve or objectives to meet, with the possibility of a reward, is motivational. Providing game-based learning for employees motivates and engages them in their development and ensures valuable lessons aren’t forgotten, building a stable bridge for professional growth. In fact, those accessing game-based learning end up more skilled, more knowledgeable, and more likely to retain information[iv].

Finally, when something’s fun, it goes without saying that we’ll be more likely to do it. If someone tells you they’re totally averse to playing games, they’re probably lying. Work doesn’t have to be dull, dry, and soulless. Using physical board games and apps, or even just adopting game-based elements like point-scoring and ‘levelling up’, can make even the most boring tasks miles more engaging and enjoyable.

Here at PRINT, we use our PRINT board game to introduce people to the world of PRINT and increase their knowledge of their Unconscious Motivators, Best Self and Shadow behaviour. Players get to see the working world through the eyes of other PRINTs, and explore their own in comparison, leading to better interaction, collaboration, and teamwork, as well as personal skills and knowledge development.

 

If you’d like to discover your Unconscious Motivators or find out more about how PRINT could benefit your organisation, email hello@discoveryourprint.co.uk, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT coaches.

 

[i] Andriotis, N. (2014). Gamification Survey Results: A Survey by TalentLMS. [Online]. London: TalentLMS. Available at: http://bit.ly/2hsRwju

[ii] Laja, P ([Date Unknown]). How to Use Gamification for Better Business Results. [Online]. Kissmetrics. Available at: http://bit.ly/2aK4SIR

[iii] Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). ‘Does Gamification Work? – A Literature Review of

Empirical Studies on Gamification’, in Proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference

on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA. [Online]. Available at: http://bit.ly/1mCqFkr

[iv] Enders, B. (2013). Gamification, Games, and Learning: What Managers and Practitioners Need to Know. [Online]. Santa Rosa: The Learning Guild. Available at: http://bit.ly/2hIPxGu