We’re surely not going to play games at work?


Playing games for an hour is a normal way to pass the time. Well, it is when you’re at home. But at work? As far as we’re concerned, playfulness should be at home there too. Not in the form of an actual game, but in the introduction of playful elements into your work. In other words, gamification. This kind of play doesn’t keep you away from working; rather, it actually gets you working. A well thought-out game challenges you to try out and experience new things in your work, to repeat them and try them again until you can do them well.

The first reaction to our suggestion to introduce a game into change pathways is often, “We’re surely not going to play games? There’s work to be done!”
But guess what: gamification is work! In order to take part in the game, employees have to get to work both as individuals and as members of a team. The game motivates them to carry out new tasks and to practise new behaviours. Because of this, a ‘little game’ is in many cases faster and more effective than traditional change methods.

You learn most by doing
If you want to change, you need new skills and new behaviour. These are new things, whose effect you must experience and which you have to learn. It’s very simple: people learn best by doing. Only 30% of all your knowledge and ability derives from traditional learning or transfer. Most of it – as much as 70% – is what you learn in practice. By doing. And this is the power of gamification: it stimulates people to try things out that they wouldn’t normally do if just left to themselves. And by doing, they learn.

Carry on until you can do it
Imagine you’ve got a 10-year-old nephew. What do you think he will master first: the special moves in FIFA17, or the rules of spelling? The times tables up to 10, or the 10 levels in Minecraft? Exactly! A game motivates you to learn by giving fast feedback and a clever rewards system. And you can keep starting all over again, countless times.
Through gamification, you can create a work environment in which you can try out new things, make mistakes and start afresh all over again. And again. And again. Until you can do it.

So playing games works. But how?
Here’s a practical example. Let’s say that you want your team to proactively call customers or do something else that they really dread. You can then introduce a game that challenges them to get over that barrier and pick the phone up to make that call. By following a training course, they receive a reward in the form of points or a badge. After this, employees can be challenged to undertake certain actions in the customer’s direction, and to make an appointment. Each telephone call means a reward in the game. And the better you do it, the higher the reward. People can also be asked to share their experience and tips, therby also earning a reward.
You can also build in a competitive element, so that individuals or even complete teams can play against each other, all the time challenging and motivating one another.

The value of all these gaming elements is that people open up to learning, rather than closing in on themselves. After all, you’re allowed to make mistakes. And if that conversation with a customer didn’t go well, the game encourages you to simply try it again. What’s more, you’re not on your own: you can use the training and learning experiences of colleagues to do things better with your next customer.

In many cases, gamification has proven to be a powerful instrument of change. Through the use of gaming elements, you can motivate people to learn new things in their work and to demonstrate different behaviour. Faster and better than with traditional change methods. People are ready for this, and so is the technology. The only thing you need is the courage to try something new.

After all, gamification is still relatively new in the workplace. So there’s still lots to discover. And to learn, if you want to do so. House of Performance has already used gamification in a number of cases in real life. We would like to tell you more about our experiences.

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About the author

I believe it's always possible to do things better: for ourselves, for a colleague or customer, and for the world around us. That's where I want to make my contribution. What's more, we should have fun and enjoy life. After all, "Life is too short to drink bad wine".

Go to Arjon van Lieshout
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