Business Gamification: How and Why It Can Improve Your Business


If you are even a casual reader of business journalism, you are probably familiar with the concept of gamification. It has been a buzzword for several years, with its abilities well documented. These include motivating employees, reducing turnover, and increasing profits. But if we look behind the exciting headlines, why exactly does gamification work, and how can it work for you?

What is gamification?

Most people know gamification as; “game mechanics and game design techniques in [a] non-gaming context”. The truth, however, is more complicated. Gamification involves using human psychology, as well as game elements, to affect human behaviour. This includes our competitiveness, our need for gratification and feedback, as well as our need to be social and compare ourselves to others.

Therefore, rather than simply borrowing elements from games, gamification involves understanding human behaviour and leveraging that behaviour to engage employees.

How does it work?

The uses of gamification are many. So many that it can be difficult for organisations to determine how exactly they want to use it. To help you along, we have gathered some of the most common challenges and how we have leveraged gamification to solve them.

Anchoring selling habits

A challenge many brands and retailers with a retail division face is anchoring new selling habits. This was the issue one organization came to us with. To facilitate staff learning and habit anchoring, we built the ATOBI app with a focus on gamified training and competitions.

We did this by building 6 missions, each focusing on a core skill in delivering great customer experiences. Concentrating on areas such as cross-selling, inspiring customers, and making them feel welcome, the app covered all aspects of the in-store customer experience.

Each program was built with engagement in mind. This means training became an integrated part of the workday rather than a forced requirement. The focus on engagement is also visible in staff feedback; After six months, 56% felt very highly inspired, with 67% reporting extra sales tied directly to the use of the app.

Improve specific business metrics

A company came to us with a specific goal; improve mystery shopper results across stores and engage employees. To achieve this, we combined their training practices with our gamification approach.

Using the app as a starting point, the in-store staff made and shared short videos. Furthermore, the best were compiled by ATOBI ambassadors and highlighted by management.

These videos served two purposes. Firstly, it encouraged employees to both create and share their best practices. This increased employee engagement, as well as interactions amongst employees. Secondly, this practice made the brand experience top of mind.

In three months, several thousand e-learning modules, sales actions, and quizzes were completed. Furthermore, among staff using the ATOBI app, the mystery shopper score increased by 55%.

Gamification to kickstart campaigns

While gamification can be used to establish new selling habits and training programs, it can also be leveraged to kickstart campaigns. This is exactly what a global brand did with ATOBI. In collaboration with various stakeholders, we created an app made to drive employee engagement, as well as sales.

We did this by combining a KPI Dashboard with a sales leaderboard showing real-time sales. This gave each employee an overview of their own performance while also allowing them to see their coworkers’ performance.

In addition to turning sales into a fun competition, we also gave the staff all the tools they needed to provide better customer service and increase sales. This included daily sales tips, skill-building competitions, and customer-service quizzes. The clear goals and sales tips and tricks drove a 149% sales increase.

Interested in learning more about employee engagement? Check out The Foolproof Formula To Motivate Employees” right here.

How to implement gamification in your workplace

As shown, gamification has many possible uses, including boosting productivity, accelerate learning, and changing behaviour. But how exactly can your organisation implement gamification in the workplace?

Below we have gathered the three aspects you need to define before starting your gamification journey.

Defined business metrics

Because of gamification multiple uses, defined business metrics are vital. While effective, gamification can only optimise a few business metrics simultaneously. With metrics such as training participation, increase in sales, and anchoring new habits, it is important to specify which areas you wish to improve.

This is especially important as 70-80% of current gamified applications are expected to fail, mainly due to poor design and lack of planning.

Defined target users

Before implementation, the user group has to be clearly defined and understood. A common problem we see when companies use gamification elements is that companies apply points, badges, and leaderboards without really understanding how they work or the potential negative consequences of getting it wrong. For gamification to be truly successful, it has to be user-centric. Instead of focusing on which problem to solve, the focus must be on the users and what behaviour will deliver on your business objectives.

Defined long-term plans

For gamification to work, you have to have an endgame in mind. This is important because, without a defined long-term engagement design, gamification goes from being a tool to engage and train employees to a gimmick.

To use games as an example, consider Pokémon Go and World of Warcraft. Days after Pokémon Go was launched, it became one of the most popular apps globally, peaking in August 2016 with 100-380 million users worldwide. Despite this popularity, users quickly disappeared, with only 60 million users left in June 2017.

The same fate is not true of the latter, which still has a consistent user base 14 years after its release. Organisations need consistent engagement and performance. It is too expensive to launch new initiatives and systems only to see a low employees user rate adoption and/or a drop off after 6-9 months.

According to gamification expert Yu-kai Chou, the main reason for this problem is the Endgame design or lack thereof. As he says: “There is almost no limit to the number of game techniques that you could use to make the Endgame experience engaging. The only thing you have to do is include the Endgame design in your project.

That is why we at ATOBI use Yu-Kai Chou’sChou’s gamification framework, The Octalysis model. It ensures deep gamification that engages all types of employees, long-term.

The Octalysis Framework

If this has stirred your interest in gamification and how your organisation can use it, book a demo with us, and we will be sure to inspire you and show what results you can achieve.