We’ve all heard about gamification in the workplace, but can gamification be effectively applied in the industrial workplace?

Gamification in the industrial workplace is a strategy that uses game-like incentives to target our intrinsic psychological reward centers. Does it really turn work into a video game? Not exactly.

Gamification taps into employees’ internal motivation in several ways. For one, gaming offers instantaneous feedback that lets employees know they’re on the right track, as opposed to traditional employee evaluations that are vague and only take place once or twice a year. With gamification, employees also see their “stats” in real-time, and they know how they compare to their peers, which also brings our competitive drive into play. This level of transparency helps to create a culture of high achievers.

The goal of gamification is to create a more engaging work environment that improves employee performance. By turning performance into a fun competition (against oneself or others), businesses are tapping into a basic human desire for mastery and the rewards of continuous improvement.

Without getting into a long discussion about the psychology of motivation, the most effective games work with completely different sets of emotions than passive forms of entertainment. For example, movies are entertaining because they connect the viewers to the characters, using empathy as a pathway. However, in games, the emotions are completely different. Effective games make use of players’ fear of failure, their competitive drive, their sense of pride in their performance, and the social rewards of teamwork.

Designed to Fail

It’s no fun to play a game that’s too easy to win. That’s why adults don’t use the bumper lanes at bowling alleys. For a game to be rewarding, it has to be challenging, and that means sometimes we will fail.

Here is the really important part, the bedrock of effective applications of gamification in the workplace: Effective games should be designed to produce immediate failure. This type of game encourages players to adjust their strategy so that they may do better next time. Bowling is a good example. A beginner starts out throwing a gutter ball. On their next turn, they recalibrate the shot. As they begin to develop muscle memory for an effective stance and throw, their shots become more accurate.

Immediate failure makes us want to try again, immediately. Effective games challenge the player to figure out how they can do increasingly better with each try. With each effort, the player acquires new skills through repeated failure, ultimately becoming a master of the game.

Failure is the Only Way to Improve

The idea of growing through repeated failure and improving as we go along is how we get better at games, but also at parenting, marriage, work, and life in general. Why should this be different in the workplace? When it comes to the workplace, however, employers attempt to minimize their exposure to risk and failure by hiring only EXPERIENCED workers.

Are more experienced workers the ones who have never failed? Of course not. “Experienced” just means that someone has skills that they learned from lots of failure in the past. Businesses that embrace failure as an opportunity can create an environment where employees are not afraid to learn, and thereby improve. And in fact, the faster you fail, the more quickly you can adjust your strategy.

Gamification and Failure in the Industrial Workplace

Industrial workplaces have been slow to adopt gamification strategies because the culture of industrial environments does not typically lend itself well to failure of any kind. Failure is costly in any work environment, but it can be exponentially so in manufacturing where there are raw materials and safety concerns. However, when implemented effectively, gamification can actually reduce costly errors by subliminally rewarding workers for improving their skills.

This applies not only to physical job skills, but to soft skills too. By gamifying and improving certain aspects of peer-to-peer interactions and management relationships, an organization can see a huge lift in productivity (17-20% based on Gallup research). This boost in productivity occurs because people feel more engaged in their work when they are interacting effectively.

How Gamification Can Improve Industrial Environments

Gamification can GREATLY improve industrial environments, especially in a tight job market. Some of the benefits include:

·        An effective gamification strategy in a training department can allow a company to bring on less skilled workers and effectively prepare them for complex tasks.

·        Gamification increases engagement in work. More engaged employees are 17-20% more productive.

·        Gamification in interpersonal relationships increases teamwork, which is invaluable. (Note: gamifying relationships does not refer to traditional team building activities. Rather, teams may be united by a common goal, or rewarded for giving each other feedback.)

Is your business ready to try some gamification strategies? Here are a few actionable tips from EmpowerPoints that industrial companies can experiment with:

·        Build fun failure environments. Failure-positive environments are where employees are encouraged to fail so that they can improve and be rewarded for their achievements. An example is an electronics manufacturer who created a small production line where employees were encouraged to build electronics to meet certain benchmarks as a race.

·        Benchmarking. One EmpowerPoints customer gave their employees points for meeting all sorts of logistical benchmarks, gamifying the whole process of a trucking company.

·        Gamify interaction. Reward interpersonal relationships by creating a reward system for peer-to-peer and managerial recognition. EmpowerPoints has a whole platform for this.

·        Be consistent in your rewards system. Reward employees through a central and unified process where the rules are clear. Consistency is critical, or you risk damaging morale if employees perceive the game to be unfair or biased in some way.

One final reason for gamification:

We spend a lot of time in our workplaces. It should be fun! EmpowerPoints is a system that companies can deploy to gamify ANY system or process in any industry.

About EmpowerPoints

Happier People, Healthier Lives, A Better Workplace

EmpowerPoints is an employee engagement platform that brings incentives, recognition, wellness, surveys and suggestion boxes and catalog into one platform. We use an AI algorithm to measure data across a wide spectrum of data points to help leaders understand their workforce and take action to build the best culture. EmpowerPoints brings it all together!