How to future-proof your business with Gamification

Let’s explore the science behind knowledge retention and how your business can build on this to achieve short and long term goals.

Vector flat illustration of gamification in business

What do you count as success? High profit and turnover? A happy and motivated workforce? A well-known and respected brand?

Of course, any businessman worth their salt knows the importance of offsetting short term wins against longer-term strategy. We don’t want to just be successful this year. We want to build a brand, company and team that will weather the disruptive business climate for the foreseeable future and beyond.

So how does gamification achieve this? Should it be an important part of your internal Learning & Development program? Or is it just hype?

In the first article of our gamification series, we explore the science behind knowledge retention and how your business can build on this to achieve both short and long term goals.

Gamification in the modern workplace

Gamification expert Yu-kai Chou defines gamification as “the craft of deriving fun and engaging elements found typically in games and thoughtfully applying them to real-world or productive activities.”  So how does this apply to your workplace?

Believe it or not, our whole education system is built around gamification, with our grades working as ‘rewards.’ But the real high achievers were not simply driven by external recognition and a parrot-like memory for facts, but a real intrinsic passion to learn.

Move into the modern day workplace, and a lot of similar reward-based mechanisms are used- from salary packages to competitive incentives such as employee of the month schemes, bonuses and team trips. But, as with academia, if all that is motivating you is your salary packet, then there is no brand loyalty and your top employees may jump ship the second a better offer comes along.

So we’re already much more accustomed to gamification then we may realise. Which explains the astronomic rise of business tools and apps that integrate elements of fun and gamification into everyday business tasks.

But are these platforms really using the best scientifically-proven gamification techniques? Or are they just shooting for quick wins and short term goals?

The science of knowledge retention

We all know that the key to business success is motivated and knowledgeable employees and colleagues. They are the essence of your brand and customer experience.

So take a second to think about your current L&D process. Do you still employ traditional training practices such as offsite training days? Do you have an online system that encourages training via your intranet? Or have you gone digital and embraced the mobile-learning platforms available?

Whichever system you adopt, take a step back to think about how successfully your employees are retaining their training and onboarding knowledge. Are they motivated themselves to continual learning and improvement, or are they simply competing for more rewards, recognition and incentives?

According to gamification experts Scott Nicholson and Yu-kai Chou, reward-based training and gamification only works when focusing on short term goals. When focusing on long term goals, however, they recommend not just focusing on rewards to avoid the risk that the reward itself becomes the main goal, instead of wanting to learn and improve.

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation

This is what is known as intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation. In order to successfully retain knowledge in the longer term, while also meeting short term goals, you need to carefully combine elements of the two.

External motivators such as rewards, incentives and leaderboards get employees off the starting block and inspire them to start training at a faster pace than they perhaps otherwise would. However, this needs to be combined with intrinsic motivation techniques that inspire them to continue learning and developing towards their own goals and not just for external recognition.

THIS is the key to successful gamification in the workplace, and a happy and motivated team that is dedicated to continual learning and meeting both short and longer term targets.

So how do you put this into force in your workplace? Where do you start, and how does gamification successfully come into this?

This is what we delve into in our next article, an essential read for any business looking to improve their short and longer term strategy.