How Gamification Motivates

How Gamification Motivates

According to a recent survey, only 36% of employees said they were engaged at work. This stat is worrying because employee engagement plays a critical in efficiency and productivity. A Gallup report indicates that companies with highly engaged employees are 17% more productive. They are also 21% more profitable. Motivation and engagement are directly correlated. Increasing employees’ motivation can boost their engagement in the workplace. But how do you motivate employees on multiple levels? This is where gamification comes in handy. Gamification software can help companies motivate their employees and increase engagement and productivity.

What are the top five motivational factors?

How does gamification leverage motivational factors to motivate users?

How can you use gamification to motivate employees?

Examples of companies using gamification to motivate employees.

Benefits of using gamification to motivate employees.

Bottom Line.

What are the Top Five Motivational Factors?

Motivational factors are incentives and initiatives used by companies to increase employees’ motivation to perform their duties. As a CEO or director, you can combine several strategies to increase employee engagement and productivity. Here are the top five motivational factors:


The desire for appreciation is human nature. According to a recent study, personal recognition is the top motivator for . Another report found that 84% of highly engaged employees were recognized for going over and beyond their duties. Appreciating employees for their efforts and contribution can motivate them to do more.


How you convey mission-critical information and ideas as an Executive can influence employees’ motivation on so many levels. Some employees won’t stay committed to their tasks if they don’t know the end goal. Being in the dark is disorienting and demoralizing. To boost employees’ motivation, set clear short-term and long-term goals and communicate them accurately and vividly. Positive and transparent leadership can help employees stay motivated.

Working Environment:

Did you know that happiness can increase business productivity by 31%? And all you have to do is create some room for fun in the workplace. Boring and workplace should not be in the same sentence, period! “All work but no play makes Jack a dull boy (unproductive)” comes to mind. The perception of bias or unfairness can also undermine employees’ motivation and engagement. To motivate your employees, nurture a fun and inclusive work environment.

Compensation and Rewarding:

Nothing is more demoralizing than not knowing whether you’ll be compensated for your efforts. If top-performers are overlooked for promotions, their motivation and productivity will plummet. Being fair and transparent in pay increases and rewards is an effective way to eliminate perceptions of favoritism and distrust in your workforce. If everyone knows why “X” got a pay hike, there is no opportunity for rumor mongers to exploit. As a C Suite, never undermine the impact of perceptions on team spirit and motivation.


Without competition in the workplace, top performers will become comfortable. There is no motivation to work hard in the comfort zone. Cut-throat competition can discourage low performers and average employees. Why put in extra effort if they cannot outperform top players? Competition is a sword-edged sword. To motivate employees, nurture healthy competition. This motivational factor can keep Millennials and Gen Z on their toes in the workplace.

While motivational strategies are straightforward, the implementation is easier said than done. In today’s digital age, companies leverage flexible employment models like work-from-home and remote workforces. If your employees are scattered worldwide, in-person talks may not be the best strategy to motivate your workforce.

The 21st-century workplace is bombarded by tons of data from different sources. From interns to top-level management, no one is immune to data drown and the mind-numbing mental overload. It is difficult to motivate employees exposed to endless cycles of breaking news. First culprit, social media. Sticking to traditional motivational strategies in today’s digital age is counterproductive.

As a C Suite or Director, you understand the benefits of automation. Can you automate employee motivation? Yes, you can! Gamification solutions like ZIZO offer a more targeted approach to motivate your employees and boost their engagement and productivity.

How does Gamification Leverage Motivational Factors to Motivate Users?

Gamification allows companies to incorporate game-oriented elements and thinking in nongame applications. The best gamification software leverage gaming mechanics to automate and simplify how companies motivate employees. These systems are more psychology-oriented than technology-oriented, with 75% psychology and 25% technology.

The psychology behind gamification anchors on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, individuals have physiological, security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs. Each need must be addressed and fulfilled for an employee to feel complete (self-actualized). In the 21st century, employees’ self-actualization needs consist of three motivational factors – Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery.  

This model argues that individuals are motivated to act if the action will fulfill their needs. So, gamification in the workplace exploits this psychology of motivation to encourage employees to engage more in work-related activities. Game developers link gaming mechanics to these needs and integrate nongame applications. So, how does gamification leverage motivational factors to motivate users on multiple levels?

Guarantees Recognition:

A HubSpot study found that 69% of employees are more motivated if they feel appreciated in the workplace. Automating appreciation with gamification is a no-brainer. The best employee gamification tools eliminate human bias and discrimination from the equation. Whenever a user completes a task or level, they receive instant recognition. It fulfills employees’ security and self-actualization needs by guaranteeing recognition and appreciation for their efforts. So, more employees are motivated to engage in work-related activities. Many will do more than the bare minimum to be recognized and appreciated. 

Improves Communication:

With gamification, you incorporate vital information and ideas into the game. It guarantees accurate and consistent communication organization-wide. For example, you can use a gamification tool to educate younger and older employees on the company’s values and culture. It enhances transparency and eliminates miscommunication, which can boost employees’ motivation and commitment to their tasks.

Fun and Inclusive Workplace:

You can incorporate social elements like collaborations in your game design to address employees’ belongingness needs. A gamification tool with social feed functions mechanics offers a safe venue for socializing. It can motivate anti-social or shy employees to engage with colleagues more in the workplace. Employee gamification adds an element of fun to each job. Goodbye boredom! As a company, gamification can also help you nurture an inclusive work environment and leverage this motivational factor to boost employee engagement.


Gamification software fulfills employees’ esteem needs by rewarding top-performers. You can design a gamification tool that rewards users on multiple levels for completing specific milestones. This motivational factor can also encourage users on different skill levels to engage, improve, and win more rewards. Rewarding through gamification is instant, fair, and transparent. So, it eliminates perceptions of favoritism and distrust in the workplace.

Enhances Competition:

Gamification provides a level playing field for employees at all levels to engage and compete for recognition and rewards. For example, a sale include short milestones with goodies for the first salesperson to reach it. It will enhance competition and motivate your sales reps to work harder.

Gamification offers an effective solution to motivate employees at all levels and departments. It can help you increase employee engagement and productivity throughout your organization.

How You Use Gamification to Motivate Employees?

Gamification is a growing trend in different fields, from HR to sales, customer care, marketing, and product development. As a C Suite or Director, you can use robust gamification software like ZIZO to simplify employee motivation and engagement improvement. Here are some examples of gamification applications in different departments:   


At its core, gamification is the convergence of productivity and technology. It leverages recognition and reward and enhances communication and competition. These motivational factors can improve employee engagement and collaboration, which are ingredients for success in sales. Think of a salesperson of the year! Do you appreciate them enough? If you’re not sure, consider using sales gamification. It is a must-have for organizations with a large sales team. With employee gamification, you’ll be 100% sure that all top performers are valued and rewarded for their efforts. It can motivate your sales reps to compete and collaborate, leading to higher sales!   

Customer Support:

Customer support is the last line of defense. How they handle a disgruntled customer determines whether your company will retain or lose that client. It requires empathy, experience, and communication skills. Call center gamification offers a controlled environment to train call center agents and customer support teams before deploying them to the frontline. You can offer rewards through gamification to motivate experienced members to share their insights and strategies with newbies and other members. 

Learning and Development:

Learning new skills is not as fun as it sounds. But it is essential for employee development and growth. Gamification can solve this dilemma for you. Applying game-oriented thinking to learning processes can benefit manufacturers and tech companies with several technical skill levels. It offers an interactive solution that makes learning more engaging and fun for employees. Gamifying technical course is an effective strategy to motivate your employees to learn new skills.  

Human Resources:

Efficient communication is crucial for success in HR. As HR, you have to instill corporate culture into employees on multiple levels. Gamification can help communicate the company’s mission, values, and culture to all users. It is an effective way to motivate adherence to corporate culture organization-wide. As a company, use gamification to motivate HR professionals to implement best practices.  


Like sales, marketing is more practical than theoretical. Mastering the art of prospect persuasion takes time. No one is born the top marketer. It is earned through years of experience in the field. With gamification, you can train your marketing team without setting a foot outdoors. You can design a gamification solution that simulates conversations between your marketers and stubborn potential customers. It will motivate your team to learn new marketing strategies, such as using social media for marketing. They’ll also get some experience of what to expect out there in the field. In a sense, gamification brings the market into your premises.

Gamification can also motivate product development teams to collaborate and help them become more creative. As a C Suite or Director, you can leverage gamification benefits across different departments in your organization.

Examples of Companies Using Gamification to Motivate Employees

More organizations are leveraging game-design elements in nongame applications. Here are three companies that have successfully implemented gamification in their employee motivation strategies:


Cisco unveiled a global social media training program for its employees. It had 46 courses, which discouraged employees from enrolling. To address this challenge, Cisco gamified the program with three levels of certification and several teamwork and collaboration challenges. Gamification simplified the program, encouraged competition, and motivated more employees to join and get certified.


Microsoft offers its products globally with specific language localization requirements. To ensure accurate translations in all languages, the company developed the ‘Language Quality’ game. The game simplified language accuracy checks and introduced the leaderboard to enhance competition. As a result, more Microsoft employees were motivated to engage in this game and improve translations of their native languages.


SAP offers complex ERP solutions. The company developed a gamification app known as RoadWarrior to ensure its sales reps have sufficient knowledge of the products. The game simulates conversing with a customer and offers rewards like badges. It also displays the top-performing sales rep on the leaderboard. SAP’s gamification motivated more employees to engage in the process and learn, leading to higher sales.

Benefits of Using Gamification to Motivate Employees

Employee gamification offers several benefits for your company. Here are some business values of using gamification. 


According to research, some organizations spend around $720 million annually on engagement improvement. Gamification offers a more cost-effective option to motivate workers and improve engagement. It rewards employees at a lower cost compared to other rewarding alternatives.


It can take several months to meet and encourage thousands of employees. Gamification reaches all users on multiple levels. As a C Suite or Director, gamification allows you to motivate your entire team with the click of a button.

Long-lasting effect:

Gamification has a long-lasting psychological impact. You can use a system with a leaderboard to display the top salesman and their rewards throughout the company. They will keep this prestigious position on the board and brag about it until they are dethroned by another sales rep. So, recognition through gamification is more visible and longer-lasting than a ‘thank-you.’

Enhance tech adoption:

You can embed gamification tools in your existing systems like CRM and online sales platforms. It will encourage your employees to adopt and use these technologies more often.

Future-proof solution:

Gamification is enticing for younger generations. You can use gamified solutions to motivate Millennials and Gen Z, the future workforce.  

Boost competition and collaboration:

Incorporating social mechanics like chat rooms, groups, and teams in your gamification tool can facilitate and nurture collaboration in projects. You can use a solution with a leaderboard to cultivate healthy competition between employees.   

Instant feedback:

The best gamification solution offers instant rewards as soon as the user fulfills the requirement. Rewarded employees also respond in real-time, providing C Suites and Directors instant feedback. 

Enhance creativity:

Rewarding innovative employees using gamification can enhance creativity organization-wide. It will motivate other employees to become more creative to win rewards.

Gamification is a gift that keeps giving, with limitless potential. To exploit all these benefits, use an innovative gamification solution like ZIZO.

Bottom Line

Since time immemorial, companies have relied on physical rewards and traditional strategies to motivate employees and improve engagement and productivity. But the challenges in the 21st century require more targeted solutions. As C Suite or Director, you can use gamification to leverage the top motivational factors and motivate employees on multiple levels. Employee gamification offers tons of benefits, including improved engagement, higher productivity, lower cost, and many more.


ZIZO is a leading gamification solution that allows companies to apply gaming mechanics to nongame environments. As a C Suite, Director, or other management professionals, you can rely on ZIZO to exploit the benefits of gamification in the workplace. To get the most out of gamification, contact us today!

Does ZIZO Work?

Does ZIZO Work?

Does Zizo Work?

What do you like most about ZIZO?

Which feature do you use the most?

How often do you use ZIZO?

How is the experience of naviagting ZIZO?

What is your goal when you use ZIZO?

Describe a situation where ZIZO is most useful to you.

How is your communication with the ZIZO team?

Does ZIZO work? Here at ZIZO we work hard to create a tool that will make everyday tasks easier and more fun! Learning from our users is crucial to the development of our software. Customer feedback gives us the chance to see what is working and what could use some improvement. Recently we went to visit one of our beta testers to see what they had to say. I figured a Q&A would be the best way to give you a little glimpse into what our active users are saying about us. So here they are!

What do you like most about ZIZO?

Overall, many of the agents reiterated how much they love the concept behind it and the direction you are heading in! They find it very helpful having the ability to see all the data in real time as this always keeps you in the know. Visually they think that the app looks very clean and is easy to use. One agent said

“The competition it creates keeps me working harder because I want to win” – Bryan W.

Which feature do you use the most?

To help find out what features are important to the users we asked them what they use the most within ZIZO. To help increase their efficiency we want to know what helps the agents. Most of our beta testers enjoy viewing the reporting. Chris S. stated,

“The reporting helps me keep an eye on my performance and hold myself accountable.”

Other agents said that they use the leaderboard on a regular basis to see where they rank among their peers. The leaderboard shows how you are doing and if you need to step it up.

How often do you use ZIZO?

All of our testers said that they use ZIZO daily and they check it pretty often throughout the day. Hilary G. said,

“I check ZIZO almost every 30 minutes and when I am not actively checking it I have it open on another screen.”

How is the experience navigating ZIZO?

An app is just about useless if people don’t know where to find what they are looking for. It is important to make sure that agents do not waste time looking for data. We want it right at their fingertips for quick and easy viewing. We were pleased to hear that all of the agents at our beta location found ZIZO incredibly easy to navigate. Some saying that no training was necessary because everything flowed so well that it just makes sense.

What is your goal when you use ZIZO?

When logging into ZIZO our agents advised that they rely on us to track trends. With all of the real time data in one place it makes it easy to go back in time and view the reporting. They enjoy having the ability to view numbers from previous months or set a custom time frame (specific week/weeks). Aside from tracking trends users stay logged into ZIZO as a way to monitor their own personal performance. When they close a deal or input something into the system the love seeing how the numbers change and how close they are to achieving their goal.

Describe a situation where ZIZO is the most useful to you.

No one had a specific situation however they all mentioned it helps to keep them on track. They know how the month is going and what needs to be done to improve.

How is your communication with the ZIZO team?

Agents love having so many options to get help if they need it. They have the ability to chat through the app, email, call or setup a video call. One agent advised

“If there are ever any issues or concerns they are always addressed quickly and efficiently.”

Overall, we received great feedback from our beta group. They continue to enjoy using ZIZO and look forward to seeing it grow. In a short amount of time, they have noticed how much it has help them stay motivated and engaged throughout the work day. Our users feel like ZIZO is contributing to their increased success. They are glad that they were asked to be apart of our testing and hope to continue with us as we add more features. To learn more about ZIZO and how we can help you please visit our website at www.playzizo.com – ITS GAME TIME

Taking Gamification to the Next Level: A Definitive Guide

Taking Gamification to the Next Level: A Definitive Guide

What is Gamification?

Common Gamification Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Take Gamification to the Next Level

Gamification is revolutionary. Since it was first given a name in the early 2000’s, there has been no denying that gamification had a power none of us have seen before. Gamification has been proven to increase engagement, performance, satisfaction, and productivity, among many other attributes.

For the past 20 years, it seems like everyone is trying to introduce gamification in one form or another. In some cases, the application of extensively planned gamification has been in a huge success. Unfortunately, the majority of gamification application has proven to be nothing more than a hastily added leaderboard or rudimentary point system that leaves users underwhelmed.

If that latter sounds a little too much like your own experience with gamification, fear not! Gamification is incredibly complex, often times, deceptively so; and many individuals and organizations overestimate the ease at which they can implement gamification principles successfully. The good news is, successful, and even revolutionary gamification is closer than you think.


What is gamification?

Before anyone can implement a successful gamification strategy it is crucial to understand what gamification is. In its simplest form, gamification is the application of gaming mechanics to non-game environments. However, don’t be fooled by the over-simplified definition; slapping a few ‘game’-like elements on a task and calling it gamification simply won’t achieve the results you’re hoping for.

Common gamification elements include:

  • Leaderboards
  • Points and badges
  • Avatars/Personalization
  • Roleplaying
  • SAPS Rewards Systems
  • Easter Eggs

There are no hard and fast rules that dictate what elements need to use to create gamification, it can be any combination of those listed above – or none of the most common elements at all.

Gamification is deep, it is planned, and it is complex. In fact, it is so complex that its definition doesn’t fit into the section of one blog – I’ve taken the time to go in depth on the definition of gamification and its history in my last blog article, which you can read here.

Common Gamification Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Overusing the Basic Mechanics

Too frequently, we want to grab the flashiest thing we see and toss it into our own operations. This is a mistake we see companies making time and time again in their quest to gamify work. Instead of providing an in-depth gamified experience, we’re shoving basic mechanics in our employee’s faces that they’re likely sick of seeing.

Ranking at the top of the most used (if not over-used) game mechanics at work – leaderboards! This mechanism’s popularity can be attributed to a few things, ease of implementation, the versality of scenarios where its useful, and on and on. To be honest, these are all great reasons to use leaderboards, and they can be a great mechanic when used properly! However, one leaderboard does not gamification make. Leaderboards have a very valuable use but after being used for just about everything – your team won’t be all that excited about the ‘new’ fun feature you implement if it stops there.

Rivaling leaderboard’s popularity are points systems. No one can resist a good point; they want to add them to everything – and for good reason! A solid point system opens the door for a plethora of positive feedback such as rewards, ranks, badges and beyond. Points are an easy way to keep track of and incentive performance – but just like their leaderboard counterparts, a basic point system will not maximize the outcome of your gamification.  Just like leaderboards, point systems are an incredibly valuable gamification mechanic when used in an effective gamification plan but when they’re implemented solo, it can be a flop.

Unfortunately, many of us get caught up in the common conundrum – we want a quick fix and try to follow what we’ve seen implemented elsewhere. The problem becomes that these mechanics have been used to death. A simple leaderboard or point system is simply no longer exciting enough to start a workplace revolution.

Don’t get me wrong, the process of implementing any of these mechanics is gamification – but in order to really enjoy the big benefits of gamification, you’ll need to put in a little extra effort. When planning and implementation, it is crucial to ensure that that you’re not relying too much on one mechanic. The key to continued engagement is variety! Remember that your employees have seen gamification before, whether they know it or not, and they will need something extra special to get them excited about gamification at work.

Keeping Things Too Surface Level

One of the most common misconceptions about gamification is that it doesn’t require deep thought from those interacting with it. Yes, gamification is supposed to be fun and potentially distract a person from a mundane or undesirable task – that doesn’t mean it needs to be oversimplified!

A comprehensive gamification solution will tap into all forms of motivation, both superficial and deeper, more intrinsic factors. The best way to ensure that you’re providing a variety of motivation is to turn to the SAPS model.

SAPS, which stands for status, access, power and stuff, is most commonly used in marketing, but is just as effective in the world of gamification. Often times, employers assume that the most important reward to their employees is stuff (this bonuses, cash, etc.), however, many studies indicate that this is not the ultimate reward that we all assume it is. More intrinsic factors like (perceived) status, power and special access to information or tasks can be extremely motivating for different personality types.

Human beings are all so different, it is crucial to any gamification solution that there are rewards which appeal to every type of person.

Relying Too Much on Competition

Gamification is often simplified into turning tasks into a competition. It is true, that using employees competitive nature to drive performance is an excellent tool when used correctly, but it must be used with caution.

As outlined in my previous blog, competition in the workplace can be a double-edged sword. While some individuals thrive in a competitive environment, others can go the opposite direction. We all have different personalities, backgrounds and preferences that effect the environments which we thrive in.

It is crucial to consider all of your employees best interest when implementing a gamification system. Will they thrive in contests with the rest of their team? Would they prefer to challenge themselves to be better than they were yesterday? Would they be more comfortable working with a team instead of relying solely on themselves? These are all questions you must ask when designing your gamification solution!

Take Gamification to the Next Level

At ZIZO, we obsess over studying gamification solutions, what works and doesn’t work in every type of setup, and how can it be improved?

When we first founded ZIZO, we spent a lot of time analyzing similar products on the market to determine what was missing that was keeping them from being successful.

After quite a bit of research and studies, one thing became inherently clear – while all of these gamification solutions had some aspects that were great – none felt like a game!

Gabe Zichermann refers to the generation of individuals who grew up playing video games as Generation G. In Zichermann’s speaking about Generation G, he explains that this cohort grew up expecting different things because of their experience with games. They interact with immersive gamification daily, and even use it to escape mundane reality at record high rates. He argues that gamification is almost a necessity for Generation G, because they have been conditioned to expect gamification.

Connecting Zichermann’s ideas to the ideas of gamification expert, Jane McGonigal, who argues that we can provide the same exciting break from reality that leisure games provide by gamifying daily tasks – it became pretty clear what needed to be done to kick a gamification solution into high gear.

That’s why at ZIZO we didn’t stop at a workplace gamification solution – we set out to create an immersive gaming experience. We want our users to feel like they’re playing a video game when they come to work, all of the sudden – they forget their even working!

Instead of just making mundane tasks a bit more exciting with points, rewards, etc. we created a solution where users play work!

In addition to the immersive gaming experience and customized environment, users aren’t limited to one type of gamification. We offer users a multitude of contest and competition options as well as varied rewards and multiple currencies to appeal to each individuals preferences.

Instead of selecting a reward system that the group would hopefully like – we decided to let the users decide how they want to be rewarded and how visible they’d like to be.

Variety like this is absolutely crucial to the success of a gamification platform – especially to drive employee performance! Interested in learning more about how we take it to the next level? Contact us today for a demo!

Why Are Gamification Analytics Important?

Why Are Gamification Analytics Important?

Analytics and Gamification

We all know that data is very valuable. Companies collect all kinds of data and hold on to it until they can figure out a way to use it. Google, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on, they all store our data. Mass data allows us to see a person’s behaviors, interests, etc. Using this data, we can bring them exactly what they are looking for before they even know it’s what they want. This will remove a lot of the guess work and deliver results faster.

Website and app developers utilize analytics to see how people are interacting with their site or app. This is exactly the case with workplace gamification. The only way to truly change a culture is by having everyone buy into it. In order to have everyone on board you will need to truly understand what it is your gamification software can help them with.

Workplace gamification was designed to drive behavior at work and is  like a Fitbit for work. Like a Fitbit tracks your steps, goals, etc., gamification software is designed to do the same with your job. Tracking inbound/outbound calls, emails sent/received, time it took to resolve an issue and the list goes on. In a recent study by Rui Huang, it was found

“Educational researchers and practitioners both struggle with identifying when, where, and how to use gamification design concepts.”

By hitting your goals or expectations you are in the green but if you don’t then you are in the red. Sounds great, but if you don’t measure this, then how do you know if it is truly working? There needs to be something in place showing if it is too easy to be in the green or way too difficult to stay out of the red. That is a big reason why I have been focused on gamification analytics and how we use it. Studying this data can help deliver a solution that works best for users. A big thing when using an app, website or any tool is trust. Trusting that the data is accurate and not skewed in any way. Analytics will help gain and keep people’s trust.

It’s harder than ever to keep employees engaged and active. First, we’ve got Gen Z and millennials entering the workforce. These generations thrive off a culture rooted in reward and recognition. And without it, 70% are likely to change jobs every two years. In addition, we now have a newly remote workforce navigating the challenges of working from their kitchen tables. Finding new ways to keep employees engaged and enthusiastic has become a necessity. Gamification software is designed to make day to day task more fun and rewarding. It should fit in seamlessly and become a tool that users rely on. If executed properly a gamification software can help keep clear transparency within a company. Gamifying your workplace means your employees are immersed in an exciting realm of friendly competition and a culture of positivity, teamwork, and accountability.

Public leaderboards, a real-time newsfeed, levels and ranks, contests, and rewards motivate your employees to perform better than ever before. High attrition rates are often due to employees feeling as if they do not have a future in their current roles. When there is no defined career path, employees are not entirely sure what achievement means and how it will impact them. With gamification software that provides rank and level system, employees can see exactly where they are headed, how to get there, and what awaits them at the top. Between the mind-numbing data drown and a workforce that always seems disengaged, productivity is plummeting. Meanwhile, costs and attrition rates are climbing to an all-time high. As this is clearly a growing problem after a decade of development, ZIZO launched. This is a revolutionary software platform that takes the stress out of managing and motivating your workforce. To learn more about ZIZO, click here!

Monitoring and Adapting

However, it is not enough to just build the gamification software and leave it alone. It is crucial to continue to study the habits of users to make adjustments when necessary. Deciding when to make things simpler, more engaging or enticing is what will make or break the software in the long run. Like Lori Sherer found

“The technological challenge is hard enough. You have to identify the right data and develop useful tools, such as predictive algorithms. But then comes an even tougher task: getting people to actually use the new tools.”

Let me give you an example to demonstrate what I mean by this:

Hypothetically you have 2 gamification software companies called Company A and Company B. Both have what they believe is the best of the best and will revolutionize the way business operates. The goal is to provide an amazing experience for the users but also show the value of the software. Company A has analytics integrated into their app. It tracks where people click, where they might be stuck and any potential issues. Using this data, they noticed that a lot of people are struggling to advance in the rankings. They will go from rookie to pro pretty quickly but then moving on from pro is very difficult. Users began to get frustrated, so they looked things over and made adjustments. After the adjustments users were noticeably happier and engagement increased. While on the other hand Company B is not running analytics and has no idea that this is going on. Users are slowly becoming irritated, and they are no longer using the software. This eventually makes its way up the chain and the decision makers feel like this isn’t working and decide to cut ties. Although the software is really well made and could be a huge benefit, they did not know what changes needed to be made. This resulted in the gamification software not working.

Using Gamification Analytics Data

It is crucial to use analytics to gather information at a larger scale. Getting reviews and asking people to complete surveys will help but analytics will show you what people can’t tell you. It reveals people’s habits, frustrations, likes and dislikes. It helps you figure out why people keep coming back or why they avoid using the software. Reviewing the data for trends helps resolve problems that might not have been noticed before. To the opposite side of the spectrum, it can also show how to enhance features that are doing really well. Without analytics we  would be flying blind; not knowing what is working and what isn’t working. In an eBook written by Benjamin Heilbrunn he states,

“Even though experts agree on the importance of these activities, concrete processes and software tools have not been investigated yet.”

With this being such a new space there is no proven method just yet. Gamification will change the workplace there is no doubt about that, but it won’t happen overnight. Studying how gamification software plays a role in the workplace will only help the growth of workplace gamification. Daily, weekly and even monthly challenges will help push people to work a little harder, but more data is required to keep people engaged. Optimizing Gamification to gain a deep understanding is the only way to ensure engagement.

What is Gamification?

What is Gamification?

What is gamification?

What is gamification?

The History of Gamification

What are Game Mechanics?

What Use Gamification?

Real World Examples of Gamification

Over the course of the past 10 years, gamification has become a hot button topic. Businesses and individuals alike toss around the topic regularly – and while it sounds cool, what exactly does it mean?

Gamification covers a wide range of theories and applications which makes it difficult to define.

What is gamification?

To put it in simply, gamification is the process of applying game-mechanics and theories to non-game contexts.

Seems like a simple answer, right? So why does everyone seem so confused about it? That answer is complicated, because the truth is gamification is a massive term that covers a very wide range of contexts.

In some cases, gamification is simply applying a points system to a specific task or displaying a productivity leaderboard where everyone can see it at work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, immersive roleplay experiences with the goal of education are also considered gamification. This is where things begin getting a little murky, and questions about gamification typically arise.

The History of Gamification

In order to completely understand gamification, it is important to know where it came from. However, much like its definition, the history of gamification is a bit confusing.

The term gamification first appeared around 2002 when British computer programmer Nick Pelling began using the term. Prior to 2002, no one used or even heard the term, but that doesn’t mean that gamification wasn’t happening.

Gamification to solve starvation:

In fact, there is evidence of gamification dating back to the ancient kingdom of Lydia according to Greek historian Herodotus. During a major famine which lasted nearly 20 years, the King established a policy in which the kingdom would eat one day and play games on the next to save their food supply and distract the people from their hunger. Seems a little too good to be true, but this technique allowed the kingdom to thrive rather than starve.

Gamification to create loyalty:

Fast forward quite a few years, and we see the persuasive power of gamification appear in the late 1890’s. S&H Green Stamps began selling special stamps to reward their loyal customer – sound familiar? This same gamification technique is used today by major retailers such as Chipotle, Amazon, and many more!

Gamification in education:

In the early 1900’s, the Boy Scouts of America were founded and began rewarding young men and boys with badges in exchange for their mastery of a skill or activity, supporting the principles of the organization, or for attending a special event. This instance of rewarding in exchange for a desired behavior is perhaps the first instance of using gaming elements in education – but it certainly was not the last.

Gamification for employees:

In 1973, Charles A Coonradt released ‘The Game of Work’, a book to address the issue of rapidly decreasing productivity at the time. Coonradt noted the simultaneous rise in popularity of sports and recreational equipment and introduced the potential solution of fun-and-games at work for the first time. While this book has remained popular for those looking to solve productivity woes, the idea didn’t immediately take off at its date of publish, we don’t see gamification enter the workforce until much later.

Gamification takes off:

We don’t see Coondradt’s work spiking interest in gamification at work immediately, but we do see evidence that the world is catching on to the potential power of games. In 1978, MUD1, the first ever multi-user dungeon video game is released. By today’s standards, the game isn’t exactly knocking anyone’s socks off; but at the time, it was the first experience which combined a video game and socialization. This acted as a major catalyst for future iterations of social gaming with the likes of Foursquare and Fortnite following its footsteps many years later.

MUD1 wasn’t the only company beginning to harness the power of games, in the early 80’s, American Airlines took a page from S&H Green Stamp’s book and released the world’s first ever frequent flyer program. This now very common use case of gamification was revolutionary for the time, creating an explosion of loyalty and frequent patronage rewards programs.

In addition to catching the attention of marketing departments and gaming companies, the potential of leveraging computer games knack for engaging users became a hot topic amongst academics. Multiple articles were released in the early 80’s which explored the possibility of applying what worked in computer games to other areas of life – such as education. These studies are the first mention of definition of gamification that we recognize today – applying game mechanics to non-game environments and tasks.

From this point forward, we begin to see a shift in how seriously the world takes the power of games. Game designers begin releasing studies and player personas to identify different ways users approach games – which are still used in game design today.

Finally, in 1999 Stephen W. Draper releases a paper which suggest that user enjoyment should be considered in all software design. This is a no brainer to us today, but at the time, this was the first introduction to positive user experience.

Gamification for the new millennium:

By 2002, the benefits of games are well known and Nick Pelling coins the term ‘gamification’ to give a name to the subject which has now become the focus of many studies and a tool for many companies. Just three years later, the first ever gamification platform, Bunchball (now BI Worldwide), was launched with the intent to gamify websites in order to increase user engagement. Once Bunchball hit the market there was no stopping gamification, apps, social platforms and even gamification courses are launched with huge success over the next 10 years. By 2014, 9/10 companies report that gamification efforts they implemented are successful, and by 2018 the gamification market is valued at $5.5 billion.

Of course, we know that gamification has only continued to flourish since then, and with the ever growing problem of disengaged employees and the shift to remote work, we’re about to see another explosion in gamified solutions.

What are game mechanics?

So now you understand how we got to the gamification we interact with today, and you know the textbook definition of gamification; but you’re probably wondering what exactly it all means.

Sure, we know that gamification means you apply game mechanics to non-game contexts – but what is a game mechanic? And how do we know when and how to apply them?

According to Jonathan Cronstedt, game mechanics are educational or competition-inspiring actions within a gamification strategy. It is important to note that one gamification strategy can use a myriad of game mechanics, or just simply one mechanic.

While the list of game mechanics is seemingly endless, you’re probably more familiar with some of the most popular mechanics than you realize. Some of the most popular mechanics include:

  • Competition: Perhaps one of the most popular mechanics, competition is a major driving factor for many. Providing a competition between users or posing a competition against a goal is one of the most effective ways to engage.
  • Goals: Giving users an objective gives them a purpose to work towards.
  • Status: Status or perceived status is very important to humans. The ability to ‘level up’ is a huge motivator for many users.
  • Community: As exemplified by social media and social gaming, feeling connected and part of something is a huge benefit for many users.
  • Education: While gamification is often used in education applications, the education game mechanic refers to educating the user to improve their ability to play the game. As a participant interacts with a game and moves through the motions, they can be rewarded with tips and tricks to improve their performance – which drives them to continue interacting in hopes of another useful piece of intel.
  • Rewards: Badges, points, and prizes are often referred to as the most effective mechanic for engagement. Earning a reward gives users the feeling of accomplishments.
  • Easter Eggs: Similar to education, Easter Eggs refer to hidden and seemingly random rewards which players receive as the interact with a game. The uncertainty of when the next egg will appear keeps the user playing and engaged.
  • Role Playing: Role playing is an excellent mechanic to encourage prolonged engagement. Think video games with story lines like the franchise mode of Madden or FIFA. This mechanic encourages the full buy-in of users as they become invested in their story and the outcome for their character.

The above list is a mere scratch on the surface of game mechanics, but hopefully it helps you better understand what exactly they are and the purpose that they serve.

Why use gamification?

By now it should be pretty clear what gamification is and how and why its gained traction over the years. But you might still be questioning if gamification really is for you. The answer is yes!

Gamification has long been proven to increase user engagement, but that isn’t the only benefit it brings to the table. Adding fun elements to otherwise un-fun tasks such as learning actually makes the student more likely to retain the information. Without even realizing, students (or employees in training) are actively engaged in the learning process while receiving real-time feedback in the moment to help them redirect when they’re not performing well.

While it should be applied with caution, introducing friendly competition to the workplace through gamification can have major impacts on employee performance. Having real time data about how they’re measuring up to their peers and/or their own past performance will likely push your employees to perform better with each iteration.

Real World Examples of Gamification

The idea of gamification is pretty broad, and it can be tough to picture how to really apply it in the real world. To help you get a better picture of gamification in action, I’ve included some common examples of gamification that you’ve probably interacted with!


One of the best examples of gamification on a social site, Reddit takes a traditional blog website and turns it into an engaging platform. Complete with badges, points, leaderboards and personalized avatars, Reddit is a gamified dream. Users gain points for writing, interacting or simply sticking around – encouraging engagement and community by allowing users purchase gifts for other users with their points.

Fitness Apps:

If you wear a Fitbit or track your activity with your Apple Watch, you’ve been interacting with gamification every day! Both Fitbit and Apple Health (along with Nike+, Peloton, and virtually every other health and fitness app) gamify fitness with points, leaderboards, goals and competitions or challenges.

Loyalty Programs:

Are you a fan of Starbucks? I bet you have the app so you can earn free coffee! What about the rewards card you scan every time you fill up at the gas station that is perfectly placed on your commute? That’s gamification too! Brands like Starbucks, Chipotle, Speedway, and any hotel or airline have been maximizing their customer’s loyalty with gamification for years.

You see, gamification is a pretty big topic, and it can be a little confusing to navigate, but once you break it down and understand, it’s hard to argue that you don’t need! Got more questions about gamification? Schedule a demo and let us answer all of your gamification questions – and see a revolutionary example of gamification in action.

4 Steps to Creating a Culture of Healthy Competition

4 Steps to Creating a Culture of Healthy Competition

4 steps to creating a culture of healthy competition

1. Mix Up the Competition

2. Make it FUN

3. Provide Variable Rewards

4. Be Purposefully Transparent

Healthy competition in life is inevitable. We’re constantly competing with those around us, ourselves, and our environment – often without even realizing it. While it can act as an incredible driver for many, when implemented incorrectly, competition can be detrimental.

In a work environment where collaboration is widely promoted, competition seems like the opposite solution to increasing performance. However, when done correctly, competition within a team has the potential to push your employees to perform at new levels.

Implementing any competition within your workforce should be approached with caution. Try using the simple tips below to try competition at work the right way.

Mix Up the Competition

As you’re already well aware, everyone on your team works differently. Some employees have no problem going head-to-head with their coworker and even thrive on it. On the other hand, some are intimidated by direct competition, and even become unmotivated when faced with that type of challenge. Those who don’t love a good face off might thrive when working with a team against another team or might do best competing against a goal instead of an individual.

Providing one type of competition will accomplish increased production for few but will likely have the opposite effect on the rest of the team. Consider varying the types and durations of competition. This keeps the competitions from feeling stale, while simultaneously appealing to every type of employee.

Consider the following:

Face Offs

Regardless the collaborative environment at your office, there will always be employees who thrive in a one versus one competition. Set the tone early that this is a fun competition that should be taken lightly.

One-on-one competitions are the trickiest to manage when it comes to hard feelings. It is crucial to purposefully match the right employees together. Ensure that those involved in the competition are of similar performance level. Pairing up employees at differing abilities will ruin the fun of the competition and may lead to hard feelings towards your management.

Team vs. Team Challenges

Team face offs are a great way to encourage both competition and teamwork. Pitting two groups against each other is and awesome way to encourage specific behaviors. If you have a handful of leaders that you want the rest of your team to follow, split them up and build teams around them.

Providing an activity which requires collaboration opens the door to mentorship and learning from each other without feeling forced.

Individuals vs. Goal

Some people simply don’t like feeling compared to others – there are competitions for them too! Even the most introverted employee can’t resist a good challenge from time to time. Push their performance without pushing them outside of their comfort zone by setting them up with a challenge against themselves.

Make it Fun

While it should go without saying – it is incredibly important to remember to make workplace competitions fun! It is easy for employees to get caught up in their performance metrics and looking good for the boss. Don’t let it happen to your team!

Don’t forget to remind your employees every step of the way that competitions at work are for fun. Break up some of the intensity with less important competitions that highlight non-work-related skills like desk decorating, fitness, or cooking. Use different rewards to give each competition different weights – they don’t all have to be the end all, be all.

Especially when competitions are first introduced, your employees will be looking to you to take cues on how seriously they should take them. Ensure that the importance of performing well is highlighted, while keeping things friendly and light. Workplace competition is supposed to be friendly not exhausting!

Provide Variable Rewards

Every individual is motivated by different things. Some employees prefer tangible goods, while others will give 110% for the potential reward of recognition; many are motivated by rewards like time off or company perks.

To accomplish maximum participation from your team, it is important to provide prizes that appeal to everyone. Of course, it is impossible to make everyone happy every time.

This problem can be solved in a myriad of ways. The most common solution would be to change up the reward for each competition. Carefully plan your rewards ahead of time to ensure a schedule with something for everyone. Create a reward schedule that is equal parts tangible goods, monetary, perks, and recognition – but don’t share the schedule with your team. Creating a predictable schedule could cause your employees to get bored and lose interest in the competition.

If trying to perfectly plan a reward schedule that everyone will love without becoming predictable is making your head spin, there are other solutions!

At ZIZO, we were sick of trying to guess what everyone would want, so we decided to let them choose! All competitions on the ZIZO platform are rewarded with coins and ZBucks (currency). To keep things exciting, all of our competitions are worth different amounts of reward.

Winners can take the currency and spend it in our reward store for whatever makes them happiest. That way – the winner wins big every time! Giving competitors the power to choose what they’re working for increases their likelihood of caring about the competition.

Give them the opportunity to beat their own record or reward them for hitting a certain milestone by a specific deadline. Providing them with a solo competition will crank up their drive to perform without risking the adverse effects of competing against someone else.

Collaborative Team vs. Goal

Engaging the entire team to work towards a collaborative goal is by far one of the most effective ways to implement competition into the workplace. In a study conducted by ZIZO, we found that most individuals prefer working with a team towards a common goal rather than facing another team or individual.

In addition to the data, we’ve tested this firsthand. In my own agency, we’d run a contest almost every Friday. We’d give the entire team a goal to accomplish and whenever they reached that number, they could take the rest of the day off, paid. The team would successfully reach the goal 90% of the time!

Blitz Competitions

A blitz competition is a great way to jump start productivity when your team is in a slump. Announce a short competition, starting immediately to create a buzz and some excitement. A blitz should be no longer than an hour long, and its best if the prize is available then and there.

Multi-Day Tournaments

On the occasion that your team needs less excitement and more focus try a multi-day tournament. These are a great resource when your team needs a refreshed interest in any one KPI. By creating a longer competition, you’re enhancing the need for employees to focus on their performance over the course of a few days.

Battle Royale

If your whole office needs a little wake-up call, a Battle Royale is a great way to get everyone’s attention! This is a ‘fight-to-the-death’ style competition that leaves only the best as the last man standing. While employees are competing directly with their peers, the entire team is involved, which takes a lot of the pressure off those who aren’t wild for the intensity of a face-off.

Be Purposefully Transparent

Regardless of how meticulously you plan competitions, they’ll never be successful if your team doesn’t have trust in it. Perceived bias, inaccurate score keeping and lack of follow through on rewards are among the most common reasons a competition fails.

It is incredibly important to ensure your employees trust the competition mechanics 100% for them to go all-in for a contest.

 The easiest way to earn your employee’s trust is to be as transparent as possible with them. If they’re able to keep tabs on the system throughout the entire competition, they’ll have no reason not to trust the outcome.

Share with employees what is being measured, who is being measured, and how a winner will be determined. Provide them with any information relevant to the competition upfront and before they have to ask.

While competitive workplaces get a bad rep, don’t let it scare you! The right type of competition can elevate your team’s performance and bring new life to your workforce.