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How Can Organizations Learn And Develop With Gamification?

Written by: Ágnes Vad, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Gamification has tremendous potential, but today many companies aren’t getting it right as still (too) many companies don’t understand how critical player motivation is to success. The other common misbelief is that gamification is a magic elixir to every problem. I tell you: it is not.

True or False?

Before we dive into gamification, let’s have a game on gamification! I have given you some statements below, and you consider whether they are true or false. I hope that you’ll learn my opinion and thoughts on each statement by reading further!

  • Games are for children.

  • Playing is the same as gaming.

  • Gamification is about fun and playfulness.

  • The workplace is a serious place to work—no place for fun.

  • Most business leaders are risk-averse.

Let’s continue with some data points (based on TalentLMS’s 2019 Gamification at Work survey). What do you see?

Do you recognize that the people taking non-gamified training are significantly less motivated (28%) than those people who received the gamified training?

So, what is gamification?

Gamification improves performance and drives productivity and can be a crucial tool of transformational change; gamification is all about motivation (and not fun).

Gamification is a growing trend that has been identified as a driver of measurable productivity improvements for many industries. It is an innovative solution to foster motivation and uses game design elements to solve organizational problems.

Gamification allows game elements in non-game contexts (i.e., customer engagement, employee performance, training and education, personal development).

Organizations can improve employee engagement, boost productivity, and lift operational performance by employing game mechanics to training and other business-critical processes.

Gamification serves three primary purposes: changing behaviors, developing skills, and driving innovation for three target audiences: customers, employees, and communities of interest.

Source: Brian Burke, Gamify, 2008, Gartner INC.

[For the sake of being accurate with the taxonomy: Gamification differs yet still relates to serious games as a term because both try to leverage aspects of games to achieve something beyond playfulness. Gamification is meant to be under the surface (using game techniques outside the game) and is also used to promote a business or product. Serious games offer an enjoyable way to solve real-world problems, and it is a simulation to test players’ skills and behaviors. - Sources: Torsten­ Reiners­, Lincoln C. ­Wood: Gamification in Education and Business, Springer, 2016; Ganit Richter, Daphne R. Raban, and Sheizaf Rafaeli: Studying Gamification: The Effect of Rewards and Incentives on Motivation]

Where can gamification be used at work?

  1. Training and development

  2. Team building

  3. Improving key performance indicators (KPIs)

Gamification in training and development

Studies suggest that personal development is best acquired through experience and reflection, yet many traditional training programs cannot deliver this learning opportunity.

In experiential learning, feedback is the most potent input to engage people to shift their behaviors or approach. Feedback tells us what we don’t know about ourselves.

Gamification is a powerful way to get feedback both from an experience and others engaged in that same experience. Gamification engages people emotionally, especially when followed by debriefs and reflection, the lessons learned are deepened.

How can a leader develop with gamification?

Self-awareness, empathy, communication, problem-solving, respect, and listening are skills most leaders would like to believe are a part of their leadership DNA. But what if they aren’t? What can you do as a leader to develop?

Training or workshops based on gamification can help them generate conversation and insights, and are well worth the time. The built-in gamification elements break larger goals into smaller, more practical challenges; encouraging players to progress through levels and engage them emotionally to achieve their very best.

Gamification-based programs help the leaders to:

  1. provide immediate feedback on leadership style

  2. create leaders through education

  3. lead towards self-discovery when it comes to decision-making

  4. enable personalized learning in a risk-free environment

Gamification in Team Building

Gamification creates exciting, educational, and fun learning experiences, offering additional benefits that conventional team-building activities cannot achieve. Using game mechanics in team building has been shown to increase its effectiveness because it supports many areas like:

  • Getting to know new team members

  • Building trust within the team

  • Improving teamwork

  • Encouraging collaboration

  • Improving morale and motivation

  • Broadening communication skills

When team-building participants are involved in activities that stimulate the body or mind, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that contribute to a sense of happiness and motivation, especially when we have achieved something. So gamification can be a powerful solution to address motivational problems within learning or working contexts, as long as they are well designed and are built upon well-established implementation models (How gamification motivates: An experimental study of the effects of specific game design elements on psychological need satisfaction; Michael Sailer, Jan Ulrich Hence, Sarah Katharina Mayr, Heinz Mandl). This is how game mechanics can increase the effectiveness of team buildings.

Gamification in Improving KPIs

Many companies fail to utilize critical internal information to optimize operations. They lack efficient access to their key performance indicators (KPI). The KPI data itself is disorganized or stored inefficiently. Gamification of the sales process by KPI performance can be a solution.

Gamification frames employee performance as part of a game or competition. In essence, these software platforms take internal productivity data, such as KPIs, and organize, measure, score, and display the key metrics of each employee’s performance in the context of an intra-office competition.

By embracing the natural competitiveness within an organization, gamification:

  • Creates competitions for sales, product knowledge, or leads

  • Establishes leaderboards within teams, departments, branches, or across the whole company

  • Promotes information sharing across teams

  • Improves employee engagement

  • Incentivizes delivering excellent service to customers

In Summary

More and more organizations are turning to gamification to improve employee engagement and productivity and reduce workplace turnover. While many business leaders continue to see themselves as overseers of serious organizations, they don’t do fun; and they are pretty proud of that and certainly not going to change because of the latest trend.

And yes, it’s hard to believe, but in fact, most business leaders are risk-averse. They do not want to be early adopters (i.e., leverage gamification); but rather, they want to be fast followers. They will look for proven examples of how gamification can achieve business outcomes.

The good news is that more and more successful case studies are born, in which gamification was shown to have positive emotional and behavioral effects like high task enjoyment, better learning outcomes, better health behavior, etc. Gamification also helped teams to generate promising new ideas that then built a basis of an innovative product. (The Effect of Gamified Teamwork on Team Members’ Engagement; Polina Trusova, Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf Faculty of Business Administration and Economics)

So, employees of these companies also may start to play a game called motivated work.

And if you’d rather want to be among the early adapters of gamification and leverage its positive impact in your organizations, follow me for ‘Serious Play’ workshop and team building offers. All are built on gamification.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Further reading:


Ágnes Vad, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ágnes Vad is a certified human potential and business coach with 18 years in marketing and 10+ years in cross-cultural leadership roles. Ágnes started her professional career in the multinational world in the marketing domain and built her thorough business acumen in parallel via the international leadership roles she was promoted to. She has been showing passion for working and leading people starting from the beginning of her career. She is a proud winner of the Leadership and Marketing Awards at her company. After 18 years she decided to follow her passion and became a coach entrepreneur in 2019. In the last 2.5 years, she became experienced and recognized professional in the coaching domain and has cc. 500 hours of coaching experience. She works with individuals and also with teams as a coach. She focuses on activating and maximizing human and leadership potential, emotional intelligence (EQ), mindfulness, and resilience.



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