Gamification in the Workplace. By Joshua Roberts, E-Learning Jar

Gamification is the process of using game mechanics and game thinking in non-gaming contexts to engage users and to solve problems. Gamification leverages game design, loyalty program design and behavioral economics to create the optimal context for behavior change and successful outcomes.

Although the term “gamification” was coined by Nick Pelling back in 2002, it didn’t gain popularity till 2010 (Marczewski).

wiiSince then there has been a boom in the use of gamification in all products from personal fitness and workplace training to the world of banking.

“The size of the gamification market, currently estimated at around $100mm, will grow to more than $2.8b by 2016.” — M2Research

You may think that gamification hasn’t affected you so far – but how wrong you would be. One of the most popular examples of gamification comes courtesy of Nike. In 2013 Nike revolutionised the world of personal fitness by adding gamification methods to their apps and technological developments.

This popular Nike+ fitness app enables users to log their physical activity and rewards them with points they call “NikeFuel”. It challenges them to reach their fitness goals and brings out their competitive nature by allowing them to share their accomplishments with friends. The more NikeFuel they earn, the more awards, trophies and surprise gifts they earn.

starbucksStarbucks also have an app which involves subtle gamification methods – but has proven a huge success. Through purchasing coffee you top up your virtual cup, simply fill it to the top to receive a free cup on your next visit to the Coffee supergiant. Simple yet highly effective in tapping into our biological chemistry releasing dopamines and ensuring that we feel a ‘need’ to see that cup filled.

What I’m really interested in is the way that gamification is being used to encourage training and personal development in the workplace. As the trend continues to gather pace businesses everywhere are looking at introducing these methods into all areas of training. ‘The emergence of Generation Y, people born from the early eighties to mid-nineties, as a demographic force is driving dramatic change in education, technology, media, and most  critically, at work. Gen Y makes up 25% of the workforce today, and their numbers are growing rapidly.’ (White Paper Gamification)

Gen Y are the ultimate native digital people (myself included) having seen every stage of their lives mapped by online advancements. I have been used to playing video games, exploring the latest technology, watching cutting edge films and experiences – so why should I not expect the same when I complete training at work? It’s as though we revert back to a 1990’s style of training where over the top images and out of date, stale corporate language is used. Through adopting gamification methods companies and businesses can not only engage more easily with their Generation Y staff but they can truly improve their staff development and organisational growth. The future of training and work based learning lies in gamification methods, ‘More than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by year-end 2014.’ (Gartner)

Generation Y’s ascent in the workforce is driving rapid change; Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce are now integrating gamification methods in their workplace training. The results have engaged and motivated not only Gen Y staff but everyone.



About The Author

Joshua Roberts


Joshua is an award winning E-Learning designer who specialises in gamification. His company E-Learning JAR design bespoke E-Learning packages to fulfil the training needs of both corporate and non-profit clients. Joshua has worked with various groups including: UNICEF, The Money Shop, Royal Voluntary Service and Dollar Financial Group. Through focusing on gamification methods and engagement principles Joshua has helped increase E-Learning buy-in by over 700% with a 40,000 user client.



Get in touch with Joshua:

Twitter: @eLearningJAR

Skype: eLearningJAR




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