Gamification applies game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. With organisations showing a greater focus on business objectives, gamification is being incorporated as a training tool in order to make the workplace more engaging and productive. Predicted as a top trend in 2016, gamification has been in the spotlight for a number of years and has been marked out as one of the most important trends to watch out for in 2017. According to Karl M. Kapp, professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University, gamification “uses a combination of the science of motivation, distributed learning, and other neuroscience foundations” and it “takes advantage of game elements to engage learners”. In fact, in 2017, virtual reality devices are expected to be seen as a common tool that’s used in tandem with gamification in corporate learning environments.
Therefore, gamification plays a major role in business and corporate training, with an increasing number of enterprises adding it to their existing courses. It adds an element of competitiveness to learning engagement and makes the employees try and outdo each other. Gamification, after all, is not that different from decades-old employee motivation techniques such as “employee of the month” awards and employee recognition programmes.
Effectiveness of gamification
Gamification, at the core, is based on the idea that man is a competitive creature, and one who likes games, not only as a child, but well into adulthood. This is reflected in the extreme popularity of sports. Games are not just an acquired taste, but something that we’re wired to enjoy. It can be found in nature too, in all kinds of animals, especially primates that are genetically extremely close to the homo sapiens. This relationship between games and man was a topic of great interest for Dutch historian and anthropologist Johan Huizinga who went a step further and called the human species homo ludens (the playing man), suggesting that play is an essential part of human culture.
Play has also been found to be helpful in shaping the brain, resulting in a more efficient cerebrum. It is also a survival trait in itself, since it helps humans switch and improvise their behaviours, based on their environment, and thereby prepares them for the unexpected. Games also tap into our brain’s motivational engines. When we’re excited and engaged, due to a sudden reward, brains release dopamine that serves as a chemical agent, passing the signal of satisfaction around our neurons.
Games trigger the pleasure centres of the brain, and make us want to relive this same experience. Therefore, dopamine is one of the greatest motivators at our disposal. It is exactly this process of tapping into the brain’s motivational machinery that makes gamification techniques so effective.
Benefits of gamification
Gamification has proven to be very successful in engaging people and motivating them to change behaviours, develop skills, or solve problems. Therefore, it’s been effective in increasing employee motivation and engagement. Some of the benefits of this process are as follows.
- Increase in business success: A well-designed gamification platform that is holistically incorporated into a workplace training strategy will begin to inspire employees to work towards specific personal and business goals, while developing their skill set. Results will then be monitored and measured, which will ultimately help to increase business success.
- Encourages learning: By implementing the latest technology within the workplace training plan in a fun and engaging manner, the organisation will encourage employees to gain valuable commercial skills. This also becomes a fun alternative to the more traditional forms of training.
- Constant feedback: The process of gamification ensures the user receives constant, up-to-date feedback. It allows users to set targets against their own goals and those of their colleagues. The feedback generated from gamification training then helps users to understand their current standing and the areas in which they need to improve.
- Reduces stress: There has been greater focus on the topic of stress levels of employees in the workplace, over the last few years. An increase in stress levels is considered to go hand-in-hand with a poor workplace environment, and contributing to creating unhappy employees. Most organisations are now focused on ensuring the happiness and health of their employees. Gamification in the workplace can relieve stress and encourage healthy competition among employees. This can be established through goals and targets, which can be used within daily tasks and responsibilities. Then, results can be tracked using a leader board and rewards system.
- Encourages motivation and employee engagement: One of the best benefits of using gamification in workplace training is the high levels of motivation seen in employees. With the option of receiving fast and effective feedback, employees are given the opportunity to understand their own results and identify areas for improvement. It also increases engagement levels as employees can challenge and help each other throughout the training process.
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