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Workplace: ‘The Game’ – Injecting the dynamics and mechanics of gaming to drive motivation and engagement through a rewards system

Workplace: The Game’ which can be played at:


While much has been written in recent years about the role of gamification in influencing consumer behaviour (rather than the role gamification plays in the workplace) it is important to begin the conversation by identifying the difference between gaming and gamification.

In the business sense, gamification is not about creating social games to drive certain behaviours, but rather leveraging various aspects of gaming to motivate employees to perform at optimal levels, much like gaming provides rewards for superior performance.

Many people associate gamification with social gaming as we are all familiar with the popular, casual and social games such as Candy Crush, Angry Birds and Bejeweled, as well as video games such as Call of Duty, Portal and The Last of Us. Clearly, the goal of these games is to entertain. Here lies the primary difference between gaming and gamification. On the business front, gamification is not about entertaining, but rather focuses on achieving a specific business goal.  Gamification is not about creating games, but rather injecting the dynamics and mechanics of gaming to drive motivation and engagement through a rewards system.

While gamification may not be about designing successful games, the powerful engagement aspect of gaming does apply to gamification. Done properly, it provides a clear incentive that motivates an executive, or in this case a sales associate, to perform at a higher level. From a psychological perspective, it begins with an understanding of the most important intrinsic motivators.

In his book Loyalty 3.0 author Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, Inc. provides an excellent overview of intrinsic motivators, including:

  • Autonomy: I control – where the individual has complete autonomy to make their own decisions during the course of the game.
  • Mastery: I improve – where the individual has the opportunity to get better at the game or ‘master it’
  • Purpose: I make a difference – the opportunity to win, whether it be within the game world, or in the case of workplace gamification, the chance to be rewarded
  • Progress: I achieve – ability to give each person a clear sense of their progress; and
  • Social Interaction: I connect with others – which is the primary reason many play games. Within the scope of gamification on the business front, this translates into working together as a team and succeeding.

Many of the components of gamification are derived from the successful mechanics featured in social, casual and hardcore video games. Video games effectively use data (i.e. “leveling up”, leader board, etc) to motivate players to new heights. The concept is the same with gamification in that it utilises big data and the opportunity to master the task to engage and motivate employees – thus delivering significant benefits to the business, such as improved customer satisfaction and increased sales.

Gamification allows individuals to be recognised for individual excellence and achievement, but most importantly focuses on rewarding behaviour. Focusing exclusively on individual performance can be detrimental as it creates an environment beneficial only to the consistent top performers. Rewarding behaviour, however, provides equal incentive for all sales associates (even B and C level associates) to participate and be rewarded.

For a business, the goal is to use the positive motivational factors of gamification to enhance overall business performance and results, including sales and profit. Success, however, cannot be achieved through one individual alone, and must therefore be centered on rewarding the team as a whole. Only then will a business achieve the benefits it seeks.

Let’s take a look at why gamification within the workforce management ecosystem can be particularly effective.

Familiarisation: Given the average age of retail sales associates, many easily identify with gamification based upon the role of gaming and gamification in their everyday lives. Regardless of background, chances are extremely high that each has not only encountered, but embraced some form of gamification in his or her personal life

Competitiveness: By nature, sales associates within the retail environment are heavily competitive and already compensated based upon performance – i.e. how much they generate in sales. At the same time, the success of the individual store will have a huge influence on the future and earning ability of each sales associate, thus there’s inherent interest in working within a successful and thriving sales environment

It Encourages Communication & Collaboration:  An effective gamification strategy will support increased communications and teamwork among employees as each will be focused on the shared goal of maximising individual store success and outperforming stores in other cities. Sales professionals will be more inclined to help other associates succeed as a means of maximising performance as part of the gamification strategy is incorporated into the workforce management programme

Collaboration Breeds Success: Sales teams that work together are proven to generate more revenue through increased sales and, in many instances, a higher average cost-of-sales

Although these are essential considerations in the development of an effective gamification strategy within the workforce management (WFM) system, selecting a qualified, proven partner will be equally important.

Our fully playable video game called Workplace: The Game educates and illustrates the effectiveness of gamification in workforce management.  The first gamification application in workforce management in retail mimic’s our proprietary Schedule Quality Rating (SQR).  Our SQR takes a retailer’s selection of key performance indicators, such as service levels, ineffectiveness, forecast labour to sales ratio, hours versus budget conversion rate, staffing level compliance and overtime and presents them in a simple to understand one-to-five star rating.  The easy to use and understand visuals and graphics allow retailers to improve scheduling and ultimately achieve a five star rating, thus providing greater customer satisfaction and improving sales performance.

Workplace: The Game’ which can be played at:



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