Gamification in the Enterprise: How to Make Employees More Agile

Agility is a cornerstone of business. In today’s increasingly complex and changing enterprise landscape, organizations must ensure that they have the tools and strategies in place to enable their staff members to keep pace with the environment. However, this is easier said than done.

Many startups and newer companies have a leg up on their competition when it comes to agility because these groups were born and bred in the age of emerging advanced technologies and new approaches to traditional business processes. Older, more established businesses have their work cut out for them as they attempt to shift to more agile practices.

“Companies have to able to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently to changes in the environment and customer behavior,” wrote Tom Clive, a London PR consultant. “In other words (and in reference to something that an executive of a Fortune 500 company told me recently) dinosaurs must learn to become pumas.

There are a number of strategies that can be employed to foster this kind of change. However, one approach that has been taking off and supporting considerable success recently is gamification. Today, we’ll take a look at the practice of gamification and how it can help create more agile employees, and as a result, a more agile business overall.

Gamification: Becoming more popular in enterprise circles

Gamification, or the practice of using a game to motivate individuals and help them learn about new tools or practices, has been utilized in the education space for a number of years now. Students seem to respond better when complex topics are translated into the form of a game. Now, this same idea is being put to use in the enterprise industry, and has been received with considerable success. Mario Herger, founder and CEO of Enterprise Gamification Consultancy LLC, told Simply-Communicate that a main idea behind the strategy is to motivate employees to take on new tasks and educate themselves on changing processes.

“Gamification is the use of game design elements in a non-game context,” Herger explained. “You look at elements used in games, which are funny and engaging, and you apply them in business context … You are helping them achieve their goals in their working lives, while also benefiting other stakeholders — usually the company, the colleagues and the customers.”

Top factors to consider with agility

Using gamification and applying the strategy to creating more agile employees are two different things. However, when managers have a full understanding of gamification and what is needed in order to create a more agile workforce, the two ideas can come together and work in harmony to help the company further its goals and position its brand for success.

Inc. contributor Peter Economy noted that there are several main factors that need to be in place to support agility in the workplace. These include a focus on the projects and activities at hand, and a clear vision of future goals. In addition, leaders need to be setting an example for their employees so that staff members have a benchmark to follow and achieve. Economy pointed out that in these regards, communication is key, as is transparency.

Motivation is also a critical component to creating a more agile staff. Using the company’s purpose to drive employee efforts is an impactful way to motivate the workforce. And further supporting this purpose with gamification can help drive the point home in a way that is relatable and valuable for workers.

Creating an effective gamification strategy

When it comes to creating the game that will drive the strategy, there are also several factors to consider. Betaout noted that gamification projects can be very successful, but only when the game mechanics are created with certain essentials and central ideas in mind. These include:

  • Use game mechanics that drive behavioral changes: Games shouldn’t just be for fun — the mechanics should be intertwined with the business’s goals and initiatives to achieve the change required.
  • Ensure engagement: A main point of gamification is to present information in a way that is more relatable and digestible for employees. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that they are engaged throughout the process with a compelling material that aligns with business goals.
  • Keep it simple: An incredibly complex game is likely to fail as it won’t keep employees engaged. Games should be simple to understand and mechanics should be short, specific and lead to a certain outcome.

Gamification in practice: An example

When these ideas come together effectively, gamification can be an innovative way to motivate employees and help them become more agile.

Rise CEO Toby Beresford noted that capturing metrics — including those related to completed sprints, scrum meetings, cut code and bugs killed — and using these to coincide with an employee’s game score is one way to drive agility through gamification.

“You will see managers try to improve their score, casually compare it with peers and, most importantly, you will see the behaviors you want (encapsulated by your metrics) start to spread through your organization.” To find out more about gamification, contact Making Sense today.


Originally published at blog.makingsense.com on May 6, 2015.

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