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Can 'Gamification' Work for Your Business?

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on July 24, 2013 12:46 PM

Could "gamification" help boost your small business' bottom line? For many business owners, the answer is "Yes -- and there's an app for that."

Already, big companies such as Intel and Accenture have incorporated "gamification" -- the use of gaming elements to encourage specific behaviors in a target audience -- to boost employee productivity, reports Time. They've created so-called "gamified" apps to turn mundane work tasks into something more competitive and enjoyable.

Don't worry, you don't need a cheat code to figure out how (and why) it works.

Getting Into the Game

Using game psychology on employees piggybacks on the popularity of video and online role-playing games. Experts expect more businesses to pick up on the "gamification" trend by creating "gamified" apps for their own workers.

Your gamification components can include teams, competition, leaderboards, badges, leveling up, goal-setting, transparency and real-time feedback. If you're considering this route, here are some helpful tips:

  • Choose your strategy first, then your technology. Don't let the app drive your strategy. To drive productivity and keep the game relevant, make sure the game relates to your employees' day-to-day work, reports Time.
  • Choose the behaviors you want to encourage. For example, to motivate and influence employees to share insights and knowledge techniques in solving problems, consider using various gamification techniques such as badges and leaderboards.
  • Make it fun because, y'know, it's a game. Throw in awesome prizes, display results real-time, and keep the game relatively simple. Don't let a round drag on too long. Keep it fresh.

Legal Concerns?

Whenever you adopt a piece of trendy technology in the workplace, be careful not to overstep employees' privacy rights. A customized gamification app involves a fair amount of data collection. Be careful about what data you collect from employees and how you use it. Be sure to get data collection consent from employees before they adopt workplace avatars.

Also, an "entertaining" gamified app shouldn't be offensive. A fun game may have a competitive edge, but should never flirt with the danger of devolving into workplace harassment.

A final word of caution: If people from legally protected groups keep losing, you may want to rethink your game strategy or redesign your app. A potential discrimination claim by the losers of your game will be anything but fun -- or productive.

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