Gamification in the workplace
– more than just a gimmick

"I can't waste time playing games or having fun. I have serious work to do!" Proponents of gamification frequently have to counter comments like these from colleagues who believe that "gamification" simply refers to pointless games, and can't benefit the value creation chain at work. But they couldn't be more wrong – because a little fun at work can have a huge impact on the success of the company.

Brian Sutton-Smith, the renowned games theory expert, says, "The opposite of fun is not work; it's depression." Recent figures drawn from Gallup's "Employee Motivation Index" confirm this claim. They indicate that only 16% of employees in Germany feel motivated and connected to their employer.1 This negative result brings high economic losses in its wake, because it affects all key performance indicators in a company. Companies which have registered the problem and are now seeking a way to combat this trend should take a closer look at gamification.

Turning work into a game

So what exactly is gamification, and how can we understand it in a workplace context? Gamification in a business context means taking typical game elements and operations, and integrating them into workplace processes in order to change employee behavior and increase motivation levels. "Typical game elements" include any elements which reflect a user journey – whether progressing through levels or winning points or prizes. When using a gamification app, it's important that feedback from the app is received in real time wherever possible, i.e. the user immediately sees the success of his or her action, which creates a high level of transparency. When developing, introducing and using gamification apps, various aspects need to be considered if the app is to be successful. These include setting quantifiable goals for the introduction of the gamification app, identifying the target group and ensuring the requisite IT infrastructure is in place.

Setting a good example

A number of companies have already successfully introduced gamification apps. Amongst other things, the company Roche uses gamification apps for training purposes and for modeling company processes. At Siemens, the gamification app "Plantville" is designed to increase employee awareness and understanding for the company's products. Deutsche Bank has developed a gamification app called "SimVestors". This simulates the financial market and stock market, helping employees to understand it better and thus be more willing to actively participate on the real stock market. Microsoft offers companies opportunities to bring gamification elements into various departments such as sales, marketing or customer service. Here, such apps can create a healthy competition environment and inspire employees to perform better. This app is controlled via the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Companies such as SAP, Uber and Marriott are also already using gamification.

Motivation boost for employees

The gamification trend is not likely to be short-lived. And not just because it's something which employees and customers are calling for with increasing frequency, but also because it has a positive effect on how motivated and connected employees feel, which in turn impacts the company's key performance indicators. Even the government in Germany has realized the potential. In March 2017, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs once again hosted a Gamification Conference in Munich. Bertram Bossart, CEO of the Bavarian Association for Economic Affairs, could not have expressed himself more clearly. "The future belongs to the games industry!" According to Josef Pschierer, the Bavarian Secretary of State, the legal framework needs to be improved in the coming years. More funding will also be provided. So in the future, the catchword in more and more companies will be: "Let the game begin!"

Introducing the author:

Isabel Schauß, CRM consultant, completed her Master's thesis on the subject of "Gamification in Sales: an analysis and field test for acceptance in German companies".


1 Nink, M.: Motivation Index Germany 2016; http://www.gallup.de/183104/engagement-index-deutschland.aspx
Stephanie Rath

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