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We all love to be treated, and we all love a reward. It’s the idea of receiving something at the end of a project that motivates and incentivises a higher quality output or quicker task completion.

Implementing gamification within the workplace is becoming more recognised. One theory suggests this is due to an employee demand of more than just financial compensation, in order to retain staff for long-term benefits for the company. We gain a satisfactory conclusion as a result. Whether this conclusion is rewarded intrinsically (trust and praise from managers) or extrinsically (physical, financial and material bonuses), gamification provides extra validation for an employee’s input (Forbes, 2016).

Using this principle, can an implementation such as this in the workplace have a positive impact on employee mentality and therefore on the workplace and wider community too?

 

Why Gamification Can Help Personal Wellbeing

This additional need can be applied to three of Maslow’s five tiers of needs. Given that employees want that ‘extra’ on top of an income according to this source, we can recognise this requirement as greater than the basic physiological need of “food, warmth and rest”.

 

Need to Belong

Social interaction: Gamification within a team encourages others to communicate and work with each other to achieve targets and goals. Whether this is delegating tasks to be completed individually or directly together, the social interaction required can increase team spirit with a shared incentive.

Connecting with others: This idea of social inclusion may bring opportunities to connect with others sharing similar hobbies and relating to each other’s’ personal circumstances. As a result this strong connection is likely to maintain punctuality and employee retention as a result of motivation.

Building trust: Personal connection and interaction builds trust between colleagues. This can be particularly important in achieving a healthy wellbeing for staff in the workplace, where each team member can help and support each other additionally to HR department contribution and intervention.

Patagonia’s annual “Bike to Work” week for example aims to encourage sustainable commuting to work. In 2014, for each mile rode within the week, $1 was donated to a “local bike advocacy”. Vendors and committees worked together in teams to plan events throughout the week too. This demonstrates credibility given to employees for going the extra mile by using their own environmental conscience.

 

Safety Needs

Trust during personal crisis: The interpersonal interaction from team-based gamification could be a lifeline for someone in a personal crisis. If workplace relationships are built on a trustworthy foundation, a person would be more likely to reach out or notice the signs for someone in need of help.

Appealing work environment: A reputation of a focus on employee well being promoted through word of mouth endorses an appealing and accommodating workplace to the public. This enhances recruitment opportunities and expanding the diversity in an organisation.

 

Esteem Needs

Safety: With a recent shift of attitude and development of resources on mental health, self-esteem and confidence are recognised as closely affecting the safety need. Ultimately, gamification could provide incentives in order to meet esteem needs, with aims to positively impact the first two basic needs.

Personal direction & Validation: Reassurance of good and credible work is given to employees through a reward – even a complimenting gesture such as “great work”. This makes an effort to provide some direction and personal confidence that employees require in order for them to remain enthusiastic for their next input on a project. Trust is therefore demonstrated from an employer, allowing the individual to trust that their work produced is more than adequate.

Lifestyle brand Oliver Bonas has implemented the Bonas Benefits scheme where employees receive “the small things that make a big difference”. Benefits include store vouchers given to employees serving over 2 years at the company and “Profit Related Pay” given to individuals who give that little bit extra for company profit. Employee retention and excellent service is encouraged here through gamification.

 

How this Can Help the Wider Community

David Katz, CEO and founder of Plasticbank.org described in his TED Talk how he had incorporated gamification within his organisation, with the ultimate aim for community benefit. This foundation uses the concept in combination with recycling plastic in areas of poverty. The collected plastic acts as currency exchanged at a value of Social Plastic®; a “consistent, above-market rate for plastic waste” as an income. Individuals receive “rewards, incentives and group prizes” for their work, essentially gamifying this recycling. This sense of gamification demonstrates its application to improve a basic livelihood as well as wellbeing.

 

How this Can Help the Workplace

Implementing gamification strategies within the workplace is intended to make day-to-day tasks more exciting to achieve company targets consistently and ultimately contribute towards staff retention and company sustainability. In order to achieve the best out of this, basic employee needs are required to be fulfilled to support each individual’s wellbeing as best as possible.

Using gamification to embolden this people-oriented and holistic focus not only aims to maintain employee motivation and dedication but also increases the willingness of employees to go the extra mile to help the business grow and develop.

 


Rachel Cox

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