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As business owners, we are challenged everyday to provide the best possible experience for our employees, one in which they feel comfortable pushing their limits and providing the best value possible to their customers. In doing so, we often struggle to balance our immediate concerns for productivity and focus, with our long-term wishes for our employees’ happiness and success.

Zig Ziglar Motivational Quote of course motivation is not permanent but then neither is bathing
The below represents a small sampling of what a company may implement to increase engagement of employees at a base level. 

 

Points programs have been around for a long time, and can dually serve to help both the customer and your internal team member. Paid time off for learning experiences are excellent as well, because who in their right mind would turn down paid time off for going to a conference or special event?

We fall back on these strategies because they are easy, they have been done before, and they can provide an immediate (albeit smaller) result. But don’t you want to really get to the heart of what motivates people, and provide an impactful experience for all the members of your company as they move through the daily grind?

With gamification, this can all be a reality. Let’s get down to the root of the issue, and discuss how motivation can be leveraged through the use of a timeless mechanic: Engagement in a storyline.

If you aren’t familiar with it, let us introduce you to the concept of The Hero’s Journey. In the pivotal book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” (1949) by Joseph Campbell, this concept is immortalized in history as the idea of the “Monomyth” is called into question. Campbell recognizes that thousands of stories across history not only share common themes, but can be pointed to a “Monomyth,” a structured and cyclical storyline common to them all. It works like below:

If we delve deeper into this, we can see that the storylines of many major motion pictures, as well as popular books, follow this story arc. The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter Series, as well as The Lord of the Rings series all follow this framework. Can you think of a few more?

What does this have to do with gamification? 

We want our employees and contractors to feel like the heroes. We want them to feel like as they accomplish their daily tasks, they are fulfilling a role in a story bigger than themselves! Bringing the Hero’s Journey and other story-based frameworks into your workplace using gamification tools, can be instrumental in adoption of this technology. After all, our biggest concern here is motivation, and what could be more motivating than saving the princess from the dragon, or protecting the town from a lumbering giant? With this framework, the sky is truly the limit.

In our system for example, we have leveraged SAP’s Gamification Service to create an avatar-based level progression system, where our developers and employees complete JIRA tickets to gain experience points. You can see our dashboard below, that shows how a player has levelled up, as well as any badges they have received for special recognition from the Project Managers. The progression system brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to our users, when they can see changes in their character over time.


In addition to leveling up their character, we are using HeroForge’s 3D modelling services to display an avatar for each member of our business. As our employees complete tasks, they can gain clothing, weapons, and even mounts! Though we are in the early processes of adoption, we have already seen a significant improvement in our company morale, as well as our sprint burn down rate (a simple metric provided by our JIRA project management software to show how our work cycles are improving over two-week stretches/sprints). We have also made a point to display everyone’s avatar on a main office monitor, so as employees walk by they can see how other characters are looking.


Above, we can see how a person’s character might look at the start of their journey, versus how they look 3 months into it. As you can see, there are additional weapons and armor pieces added over time to show the progress of the avatar.

Why should we make the switch to gamification?

We get it. Gamification is often misunderstood, and while it’s being implemented, can be costly, slow and clunky. Furthermore, it requires full adoption to make a tangible impact.

However, once you get through the growing pains, you could start seeing a noticeable difference in your employee engagement. Imagine where you could be if your employees are truly having fun at work? Even if they are just more engaged on the task at hand, the benefits to your business could be enormous.

A study published by “Computers in Human Behaviour” confirms some of these claims as they divided a group of 419 online survey participants into three groups, including a control group. In this study, each group was assigned to complete a task in an online game, in a similar vein to a warehouse does order picking. The game had unique features and motivational indicators depending on the groups as follows:

Group 1 (Control Group): Gained points for picking the right items for the order from the shelves.
Group 2: Gained points, and included Badges, Leaderboards, and a Performance Graph.
Group 3: Gained points, and included Avatars, a Meaningful Story, and Teammates.
As far as results go, for Group 2, “badges, leaderboards, and performance graphs seemed to contribute to an increase in perceived task meaningfulness.” For Group 3, “the game design element group with avatars, meaningful stories, and teammates, on the other hand, did successfully affect experiences of social relatedness.” More can be found in the full study here.

Okay, I get it! Gamification can help my company. How should I get started?

Here at Pangaea Solutions, we recommend you go through an iterative process first to see if gamification is right for your company. If you’re operating in a very commercialized structure, the pressures of maintaining shareholder morale while investing time and money into a gamification service might not be worth the effort.

On the other hand, if you are an independent business owner or smaller company, or have the leverage to start actually making changes, then you should start now. We are already seeing these business models breaking out throughout the globe, and it’s always best to start before the market becomes too saturated.

To get a quick sense of the topic, you can take a look at something like www.stackexchange.com and make an account to see if you have any interest in gamifying your business. This site provides simple achievements and badges for correct answers to many technical questions (with various “Stack Communities” that run the gamut from 3D animation, to JavaScript programming), and can be a good spot to get a feel for how your motivation rises after doing something correctly. Otherwise, check out www.badgeify.com, if you’re interested in a stock solution to adding achievements to your website with their clever API.

We hope you enjoyed our overview of gamification, and have a few ideas on how to go about adding this useful feature to your business. If you have some more time, we would love you to check out our other blogs and leave a comment!

Thomas Rautenbach, Architect
Thomas Rautenbach has over 20 years of diverse systems experience with a strong focus on system and integration architecture and software design and development. He has detailed technical, functional and system knowledge across the SAP technology platform, including extensive experience with the Finance, Supply Chain, Sales and Distribution, and Human Resources modules.




Appendix of Useful Links

Study: How gamification motivates: An experimental study of the effects of specific game design elements on psychological need satisfaction – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074756321630855X#bib18

Create Character Models with their easy to use interface – www.heroforge.com

Check out SAP’s Gamification Service - https://cloudplatform.sap.com/dmp/capabilities/us/product/SAP-Cloud-Platform-Gamification/e7f91e3d-24b0-422b-8eef-c74f4aaa0c5d

Definitions – From Merriam Webster

Gamification: the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.

 

Pangaea Solutions Inc.


311-197 Forester Street
North Vancouver, BC, Canada
V7H 0A6 +1 604 988 8849

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