Gamification in the workplace: definition and benefits

Gamification in the workplace: definition and benefits

Published date : July 8, 2021

gamification in the workplace

Popularized in the 2010s, gamification, which brings game elements to certain aspects of work, is gaining ground and is starting to be used in different areas. Fighting boredom at work, motivating employees, and giving meaning to work are just a few examples of the benefits of gamification. This concept works well because it appeals to the needs of human nature. Discover now the principles of gamification and how you can use these needs to design customized gamification for your employees.

What is gamification

Gamification is a business trend that can be applied in several areas. The simple way to describe it is: to bring game elements to non-game processes, for example work or marketing.

The reasoning behind this is that playing is a natural human behavior.

But why? What makes humans want to play? According to Yu-kai Chou, pioneer in gamification, games appeal to 8 core human drives.

The 8 core human drives to which games appeal

1) Meaning: a player believes that he is doing something greater than himself, he does things because of a reason.

2) Development and accomplishment: the internal drive of making progress, developing skills, and eventually overcoming challenges.

3) Empowerment: People not only need ways to express their creativity, but they need to be able to see the results of their creativity, receive feedback, and respond in turn.

4) Ownership: When a player feels ownership, he innately wants to make what she owns better and own even more.

5) Social Influence: When you see a friend that is amazing at some skill or owns something extraordinary, you become driven to reach the same level.

6) Scarcity: wanting something because you can’t have it.

7) Unpredictability: If you don’t know what’s going to happen, your brain is engaged and you think about it often.

8) Avoidance: Wanting to prevent from something negative happening.

So, what we are saying is that during the game, the process of playing appeals to what motivates us as humans and thus we enjoy the game and we will keep doing it by nature. Think about the last time you played a board game with your family or friends and you didn’t win. Would you say it was a waste of your time or you didn’t enjoy it? Would you do it again? Of course you would, because unless you are a professional player (and even with some exceptions), you did it because you enjoyed the activity itself and you could keep doing it. In fact, some games don’t even have a winning point.

Gamification and Game elements

How then do we take advantage of these human drives?

Most often you will see that a company has gamified a process because it has one or several of the gamification elements, points, badges and leaderboards. But having these elements is not enough, in a true game, participants are compelled to be in the game the simplest framework proposes 4 game elements to achieve it.

1) Goals, which gives us something to aim towards or to complete.

2) Rules, which describe the ways we can achieve the goal.

3) Challenge/Conflict which arises from the unique combination of goals and rules.

4) Feedback, to tell us how well we’re doing or how close we are to completing the goal.

How can gamification be applied in business?

Well designed gamification can be useful to engage people and motivate them, change behaviors, develop skills or solve problems, in other words because gamification affects behavior almost any area of an enterprise can benefit of some degree of gamification. In sales and marketing for example it can be used to increase customer fidelity, in management it can be used to make meetings more effective, and in training turning your courses into fun games with rewards for attaining learning objectives. These are only a few examples but if you are interested in gamification to create change in your organization you have to ask yourself the following questions:

· What are my organization’s goals in implementing gamification?

· Who is the community that I am creating this game for? Are they interested in this kind of game?

· How will we reward participants? Are the rewards relevant?

· What is the organizational culture like? Are my collaborators open to this kind of dynamic?

Answering these questions will give you a much clearer idea of the possibilities of creating a gamified scheme in the area you desire to improve.


Gamification can be a very versatile and powerful tool when used correctly. Well designed gamification schemes can significatively improve results in several business areas, through behavioral change in the organizations. However just implementing a point system, badges and leaderboards is not enough, a well-designed gamification schemes engages the participants making use of rules to appeal to their natural motivators. A good analysis of the implicated community and the goals of the organization is necessary to create rules and scenarios to maintain the interest of every member and ensure the success of the project