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Motivate staff using ‘gamification’

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

One of the biggest emerging trends in workplace motivation is “gamification.” This involves turning job duties into games employees play, which in turn boosts their engagement level and productivity.

For instance, customer service reps might work harder and have more fun if they form teams to compete for game points earned by their ability to answer client calls quickly and accurately. As long as everyone supports the game’s purpose and structure, it can elevate collective effort.

To maximize games, involve em­­ployees in design and implementation. Staffers are more apt to embrace the game if they play a role in creating it.

A tech start-up established a ­basketball-themed game for some of its salespeople. Warm sales leads became “lay­­ups” and cold calls were “jump shots.”

Researchers found that employees who choose to participate in the game and helped select the theme were more likely to enjoy playing it. That worked better than managers who announced the game’s rules without initially involving their team.

“When games are imposed like they are in gamification, buy-in isn’t assured,” says Ethan Mollick, a management professor at Wharton. “If people buy into the game, we see big increases in positive affects. If they don’t buy into the game, there is a negative effect…So the idea is to make this cooperative and not imposed.”

Relying too heavily on games to motivate people can backfire. It works best as one tool among many to enliven the workplace and create a sense of camaraderie.

— Adapted from “How to Make Gamification Work in an Office,” Wharton.

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