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The Psychology of Gamification in the Workplace

The Psychology of Gamification in the Workplace

Posted by Stephen Spiegel on Aug 10, 2022

psychology-of-gamification-in-workplace

Gamification can be a game-changer in terms of encouraging employee productivity and engagement. Here’s how and why it works.

Key takeaways:

  • Gamification in the workplace engages employees, motivates them, and increases productivity.
  • Positive reinforcement for achievements encourages workers to perform better, making them more likely to repeat the behavior.
  • Companies can utilize gamification for its numerous benefits to both employees and operations. 

Are you hooked on video games, used a language learning app, or signed up for an online course where you collected coins whenever you got something right? Or, better still, have you ever been encouraged by a cartoon figure running across your screen telling you how you rocked it? 

These are some of the few ways businesses utilize gamification, but it's not just for consumers. Companies can also apply gamification in the workplace.

As much as it's an art, gamification is also a science that works by triggering powerful human emotions. The rewards system triggers emotions linked to excitement, anticipation, and other positive experiences, resulting in improved engagement, creativity, motivation, and overall favorable business impacts.

Why does gamification work so well to improve behavior and encourage employees to accomplish tasks? Here are 5 psychology tips for business leaders who want to create a great working environment.

Psychology of gamification: understanding addiction

We're all dopamine addicts. Also referred to as the "feel good" hormone, dopamine plays a vital role in our brain's pleasure and reward system. A dopamine rush results in increased energy, improved ability to learn and focus, and drives behavior towards pleasurable goals.

Being in love triggers a dopamine rush, and so does gamification. Workers experience this rush when they attain their goals and level up, get their name on the leaderboard, gain a reward, or achieve something. That's their brain telling them to do what they did again because it felt good.

Gamification taps into the brain's natural reward system. It's the same reason we get addicted to video games and morning coffee. When you reward your employees for completing a task, you create the reward loop in their brains. That's why apps and sites that utilize gamification keep their users returning. You just can't get enough of a dopamine hit.

Positive reinforcement brings out the best in people

Have you ever trained a dog? If yes, you most likely gave them treats every time they did well, reinforcing your desired behavior. It's similar with people; you support good behavior by rewarding it.

By rewarding employees for a well-done job, you motivate them to do even better next time. You can reward them in different ways, too, such as giving them badges, money, public recognition, or even tickets to a concert. In addition to motivating them, employee recognition also:

  • Creates an overall positive working environment
  • Encourages friendly competition among employees
  • Improves productivity
  • Boosts your employee retention
  • Increases engagement

Positive reinforcement through a rewards and recognition program gives your workers a sense of achievement. Then, they'll most likely keep trying to replicate this behavior in the future.

People love competing with themselves…

How many times have you tried breaking your own personal record in a game or at the gym? The Nike+ app taps into its users' competitive spirit by tracking their runs through GPS, for example. They can set a distance or time, and the app will notify them when they achieve this goal. Additionally, users can challenge their previous records.

We love setting goals and competing against ourselves. When you gamify work activities, you're establishing a framework where employees can set their goals, and hitting them becomes fun. They will not only stay motivated and engaged throughout the task, but can also track their progress and see how far they are to achieving the goal.…

But they love competing with others more

Do you know what people love more than competing against themselves? Competing against their peers and coworkers. Humans are naturally competitive, and nothing can stop them when they know their win will be rewarded. A lot of organizations have a leaderboard that’s updated regularly. Coming up with "quests" or contests will allow your employees to have a friendly competition. Yours can be about anything from the best customer feedback to the highest scores on a project. You can even have teams competing against each other.

Competition is a solid part of gamification in the workplace as it taps into your employees' natural competitive instinct. Social media platforms are a great example of entities that have learned how to take advantage of this. Content creators compete against each other on who gets more likes, followers, and tags.That way, they are more engaged and creative when creating content. 

You bolster collaboration and teamwork

Another factor that makes gamification in the workplace a key psychological driver is its ability to bolster collaboration and a sense of community.In gaming, if you can make users feel like they're part of a community where they complete quests together, fight a common enemy, or build something together, you're more likely to improve teamwork and user experience. That's why people love multiplayer games.

This can nurture a collaboration and a teamwork culture where employees support and help each other in the workplace. When working together on a project, that spirit of community makes working together a great experience and contributes to the project's success. Plus, the shared achievement feels better when people work together to achieve a common goal. Your employees can also engage in friendly competition for trophies and badges, igniting engagement. And when one does well, recognition by peers results in more confident employees and better teams.

Gamify your workplace activities with CrewHu

Humans get hooked on games because our brain rewards us with a rush of the feel-good hormone whenever we win against another player or climb levels. Similarly, gamification in the workplace utilizes your employees' brain's reward system as the key psychological driver whenever they hit their goals or achieve something. Incorporating gamification benefits not just your workers but also your company.

Not sure where to start? CrewHu is a recognition and gamification platform that helps you keep your employees motivated and focused on wowing your customers. We offer all the tools you need to gamify your metrics, recognize your team, and reward a job well done.

Book a demo today. Let us make it easy for you to keep your team motivated and engaged.

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