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Games are undoubtably one of the more addictive elements of modern life, and their use in the workplace is growing. Research suggests that the gamification market will exceed $5 billion in the next few years.

The allure is easy to understand. Companies around the world are struggling to balance the need to maintain employee engagement while conserving resources and staying competitive. So having something that makes work more fun, while also giving employees non-monetary incentives, is enticing. Gamification's potential to increase productivity makes it even more attractive.

Examples of successful implementation of games in the workplace abound. Retailers have experimented with games that motivate employees to speed up the checkout process. B2C software companies can create leaderboards to gamify customer service and create customized rewards for their best-performing agents. See more examples here.

Wharton management professor Kevin Werbach has outlined 8 key components of a gamification program in his Coursera module on the topic:


1. Problem-Solving

We’re hard-wired to enjoy a challenge, and it is often the routine and un-challenging nature of work that makes it dull. Stretching yourself, however, can be incredibly rewarding.


2. Exploration

This desire to solve problems often leads us to attempt new things and requires us to learn new skills in order to solve each problem. This sense of exploration is an inherently rewarding experience.


3. Teamwork

The massive multiplayer environments of modern games should show managers how much people like working together to crack a problem. We are often natural collaborators, so you should use all the tools at your disposal to encourage this.



4. Recognition

Studies have shown that people place a high value on recognition and appreciation. A simple thank-you can raise employee engagement by as much as 30%.


5. Success

Back in 2011, Harvard academic Teresa Amabile released The Progress Principle.  The book charts the importance of achieving success, or at least making progress, and its impact on our happiness in life and at work.


6. Surprise and Novelty

Relationship gurus the world over trumpet the virtue of keeping things fresh in a relationship. While novelty can be taken for granted in the fast-moving digital world, its value shouldn't be underestimated.


7. Creativity

How often do you get to come up with great ideas at work?  I suspect when you think of those times, it was generally accompanied by a happy feeling. Just as challenging work is exciting, so is trying new ways of succeeding at work.


8. Knowledge Sharing

If you’re regarded as an expert in your field, it does wonders for your ego — and sharing what you know can help others do their jobs better. Make use of the myriad tools that facilitate internal knowledge-sharing. 

These 8 steps offer an excellent outline for applying your own gamification ideas.

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