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.

butThe 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

1. Mix Up the Competition

2. Make it FUN

3. Provide Variable Rewards

4. Be Purposefully Transparent

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.

Why Are Micro-Rewards Effective in the Workplace?

Why Are Micro-Rewards Effective in the Workplace?

Increase Productivity with Rewards and Recognition

Why Isn’t Everyone Micro-Rewarding?

Gamification for Employee Engagement

Boost the Bottom Line with Micro-Rewards

Have you ever worked at a job where you feel like you are not being appreciated or recognized for your hard work?

Let me answer for you… of course you have, and you’re not alone! Many people feel as though they are overworked and underappreciated. If this isn’t the case for you, then you are part of the lucky few.

One of the biggest problems within a workforce is lack of recognition for your hard work. Furthermore, a workplace that does acknowledge and rewards its employees is more likely to retain valuable staff. In fact, 79% of employees polled in 2019 said that an increase in recognition and rewards would make them more loyal to an employer.

If you put in extra hours or go that extra mile, but nobody seems to acknowledge all your hard work, this starts to have an impact on your work – whether you conciously realize it or not. Slowly, you start to resent your job, boss or co-workers. Before you realize it, you stopped trying as hard and just do what you need to do to get by. Eventually it may escalate into you moving on to a different job.

However, what if you were recognized more often or rewarded for beating the deadline? 

Increase Productivity with Rewards and Recognition

Businesses with recognition programs outperform those without them by an average of 14%. While those who report being unhappy or planning to leave their current job often report that employee recognition is one of the main reasons, making lack of recognition a costly problem for employers.

In order to help lower the chances of this happening, things will need to change. Thats is where micro-rewards come in. Micro-rewards are small and frequent rewards for completing tasks or reaching goals. By continually getting rewards for performing well in your job it naturally increases motivation. This concept is true not only in the workforce but in many other applications as well.

Business leaders want to know what the secret is to keeping employees happy and engaged. There have been many studies around micro-rewards in the workplace. One study by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In the study, they found that people who received immediate rewards for completing smaller tasks were overall happier. In addition to this, people who received rewards more frequently lead to added enjoyment in their work and increased interest. This was taken a step further with those same people. They found that the workers continued to remain interested even when there were no more rewards coming in. This showed that the positivity from the rewards and recognition had a lingering effect that lasted even when the rewards stopped. Woolley stated “If you have a hobby – say you like to knit or quilt – the process itself is enjoyable, it’s intrinsically motivated. You’re doing it just for the sake of doing it, rather than for the outcome.” When employers add micro rewards, this results in a similar outcome. Based on the research Woolley and Fishbach found these immediate rewards will increase the overall experience of the task at hand.

Employees no longer just view it as a job or task that needs to be completed. As you can assume this not only will benefit the employee but also the business. The employee is now happy and engaged in their work. While the business will have a motivated and loyal employee working hard to accomplish tasks. It is ultimately a win-win for all parties involved.

Why Isn’t Everyone Micro-Rewarding?

If the solution is so simple why isn’t every business doing this?

The answer is many of them do not think it is a good idea. People think that by giving employees a bonus too soon or too often can result in some negative consequences. By giving someone something too early, you remove the thing that may be motivating them to work harder. They will then stop working or not work as hard because they do not see the reason to.

While this may be true for some this is not the case for all. “More evidence suggests immediate rewards are beneficial,” said Woolley. “They’re a useful tool for increasing interest in an activity.” Depending on the team lead, manager, owners, etc. they may not know just how impactful a small change like this can have. When businesses grow in size it is often difficult to stay in close communication with every employee. This leads to people not being heard and feeling overlooked. Constantly reminding employees that they are appreciated or noticed will help minimize that.

Another reason businesses are not using micro-rewards is due to the inconvenience it may cause. No one wants to spend time and money on something they don’t see as essential to business success. They haven’t needed to do this before, so why start now?As previously mentioned, when a business grows it becomes too cumbersome to remain in close communication with every employee. Many don’t have the ability to put someone in charge of managing all of that. It is a lot of work to balance how much an employee is getting, how often, how much the business overall is giving to all the employees and so much more.

It is not as simple as just giving something away every so often. Employees have different day to day tasks, goals and etc. Whoever oversees handing out the micro rewards would not only need to set the goals for each employee but also track that they hit them on time. This would result in a lot of hours of work to make sure this was done properly. With multiple micro-rewards, it can get confusing very quickly. This can have business owners feeling like it is more work than it is worth.

However, what if there was a software to help manage all of this? A tool created to solve just this problem for businesses.

Gamification Software for Employee Engagement

This is where an employee workplace gamification & business intelligence platform can help. A software dedicated to fixing the problem that every business faces. No longer do employees need to feel like they are not valued. ZIZO was created for the purpose of helping not only businesses but the people who help keep the business going. ZIZO’s gamification components incentivize staff by rewarding them for achieving daily, weekly, and monthly goals and foster a culture of transparency and accountability.

Instead of just letting employees know via email what the goals are, why not turn it into something fun that they can look forward to? ZIZO gives managers the ability to create Contests and Tournaments based on specific KPI’s. 1v1, collaborative goals, team competitions and battle royale tournaments make achieving goals fun and engaging. Employees are challenged to hit targets, and in return, they earn Z Coins and Z Bucks that have real monetary value and can be cashed in for rewards like office perks or merchandise. With all of this in one dashboard it makes managing very easy!

High attrition rates are often due to employees feeling as if they don’t have a future in their current roles. When there is no defined career path, employees aren’t entirely sure what achievement means and how it will impact them. With ZIZO’s rank and level system, employees can see exactly where they are headed, how to get there, and what awaits them at the top. Because it is bidirectional, they also know they need to continue performing if they want to continue climbing the ladder. Everyone can see the performance of their coworkers and how they match up. If an employee goes the extra mile, they will be rewarded for it right away. Management will see that they exceeded expectations and will have an opportunity to thank them within minutes.

Boost The Bottom Line With Micro-Rewards

In an interview CEO of ZIZO Jimmy Chabat said,

“Be agile. This has been the most crucial lesson I’ve learned across all of my business ventures. …, a great company is one that grows, leads, innovates and adapts. Agility is the trait which allows a company to do all of those things.”

As you’re probably well aware, the workforce is continually changing and so should you. Some of you might be asking why should a business care about micro-rewards so much? Shouldn’t the employee just be thankful they have a job? To be honest, if employees do not feel like they are being recognized or rewarded properly they will just leave. An employee leaving results in a business losing money.

Gone are the days where employees will remain with a company for 20+ years.

If an employee does not feel appreciated, they will search elsewhere for someone who will appreciate them. With remote working becoming more popular it will open more doors for employees to find new jobs. So, keeping them happy will ensure that they do not go looking elsewhere. If an employee leaves their job, the cost to fill the position and train a new employee could be thousands of dollars, if not more. If it happens frequent enough this can cause a serious problem and lead to a lot of money being wasted.

“Today’s $46 billion market for recognition, with its focus on tenure-based programs, clearly is failing, and is out of sync with modern employment practices,” said Josh Bersin, Chief Executive Officer and President, Bersin & Associates. “This new research highlights a huge opportunity for companies to redirect existing expenditures to programs that significantly influence engagement and retention. The findings also suggest that recognition programs should align with an organization’s comprehensive performance management strategy to drive business results.”

From a business standpoint this shows the importance of a small gesture saying thank you. A few micro-rewards spread out strategically thanking an employee for all their hard work will go along way. From a money standpoint this would be a great investment for a business. Making someone feel appreciated for their work is as valuable now as it has always been.

How to Drive Employee Engagement with Workplace Gamification

Over the last six months, business operations have undergone an unprecedented transformation.  Employees are no longer commuting to their workplaces.  They aren’t collaborating in real life, sitting at cubicles or meeting in conference rooms.  There are no working lunches, and no office happy hours.  At least, not in real life. 

Instead, employees are working from home.  They are at kitchen tables and make-shift desks, with spouses and children sharing the space.  Happy hour may happen, but it is through a Zoom call.  Business may be conducted in pajamas, via video conference.  There are new stresses, different challenges, and an unpredictable landscape ahead.  

For managers and business owners, keeping your workforce engaged and optimistic may be more difficult than ever.  And where your bottom line is concerned—that is a major problem.  Happy, engaged employees are productive employees, ultimately bolstering the success of a business.   

It has been proven that without widespread employee engagement, businesses won’t thrive. Even before COVID-19, research showed that 70% of business transformation efforts failed due to lack of employee engagement. (Forbes.com)  In an era where change and evolution in the digital landscape is happening at breakneck speeds, it is more important than ever that businesses find ways to engage employees and promote a culture of motivation, satisfaction and positivity.  Employees that are happy in their work environment are 5x more likely to stay, and at a time when the business sphere is shifting daily, employee retention is more important than ever.   

How, then, do we keep remote and displaced employees engaged in their roles, and invested in the companies they work for?  With everything that has been thrown our way in 2020, employee motivation has taken on a whole new dimension.   

Hello, Workplace Gamification. 

In an effort to boost morale and employee motivation, companies across the globe are looking for creative ways to keep their workforce engaged.  This is where gamification software comes inDon’t be fooled here– gamification is NOT turning work into a game. Rather, it is the process of utilizing game-based elements like scoring, rewards and competition to encourage employees to actively engage in their work. 

Gamification lets your employees see, in a fun way, how they compare with their peers when it comes to working towards goals, and gives them that insight in real time, rather than having to wait until the annual performance review. They can participate in a transparent way, with targets that can be measured, and receive feedback from senior management at the same time. 

Additionally, gamification gives managers and owners important data and feedback that can help them support their staff, identify potential, grow talent, and make important business decisions.   


Why Does Gamification Work? 

 Gamification ultimately plays on the psychology that drives human engagement.  It isn’t just a gimmick—it triggers real and true human emotion like intrigue, competitiveness, happiness and gratification.  People, by nature, like to be in charge of their own destiny, and gamification allows them to do that in multiple ways.  Whether it is through leveling up and advancing on a leaderboard, or producing stats that will help managers identify them as workplace standouts, their success is there for the taking.   

Even more importantly, research has demonstrated that employees really want to know that what they are accomplishing in the workplace matters.  Gamification software allows employees to receive real-time feedback that motivates and encourages them.  Things like competition, points, rewards, achievements, rules of play, self-expression and status are leveraged to give employees the feedback that all of us humans seek. 

Another point to consider—the workforce is now comprised of Millenial and Gen Z individuals who have literally grown up with the concept of gamification.  They were introduced to digital technology at a young age, and they have been conditioned to respond to—and even expect—game mechanics in everything that they do.    

What are Game Mechanics? 

Game mechanics are the components of a game that engage and motivate the user.  In the workplace, the following mechanics are used in various combinations: 

  • Fast Feedback
  • Transparency
  • Goals
  • Badges
  • Leveling Up
  • Onboarding
  • Competition
  • Collaboration
  • Community
  • Points

How to Introduce Gamification Successfully 

The benefits of gamification are hard to ignore. But, how do you unlock them? These corporate gamification tips are a good place to start.

  • Clearly communicate the goals and processes of the game. Whenever gamification is applied, the rules of the game should be crystal clear to all participating employees from the start. After all, no one wants to compete in an unfair race!
  • Offer desirable rewards. The rewards on offer for high achievement in gamification in the workplace need to be relevant and desirable to employees.  But prizes aren’t the only reward to consider. Every employee that emotionally engages with their work craves recognition. With ZiZo’s leaderboards, news ticker and rewards store, employees 
  • Track the success of gamification in the workplace.  ZiZo makes this easy, with its business intelligence dashboards and easily trackable data. 
  • Reflect on performance.  Managers can utilize the data obtained to connect with employees on both their successes and failures, and ultimately help shape longerm career paths for their team members.

In Conclusion

The world is changing, and businesses are going to have to find ways to get ahead of the curve.  Workplace gamification is the wave of the future, especially in our post-COVID reality, where team collaboration and connection is going to take a completely different shape. 

4 Gamification Ideas to Engage Gen Z Employees

  • Implement Leaderboards
  • Raise the Stakes
  • Get Festive
  • Get Out of the Office

Some things never change. You can employ every generation in the workforce and despite their many differences, they’ll have one thing in common. Lack of motivation and the need for some stimulation to keep them going at work.

If you’ve worked in workforce management or HR for more than a few days, you probably already know that competitions and incentivized events or programs are a huge asset to your employee engagement arsenal. This is where the generational differences become apparent in your team. What appeals to your Millennial employees might not drive your Generation X employees.

Figuring out a way to appeal to everyone is tough enough, but now Generation Z is entering the workforce, and they’re a whole new group to engage!

The youngest cohort of employees have grown up in a completely digital age, and were firsthand witnesses to the great recession and student loan crisis.

Unlike Millennials, who thrive on collaborative efforts, Gen Zers are incredibly competitive and like to be the top contender in the workplace. This trait can be tricky when you’re trying to build a team atmosphere, but when harnessed correctly, competition can be a great driving force of productivity.


Implement Leaderboards

Members of Generation Z are extremely accustomed to the ability to keep tabs on their competition. Keeping eyes on their competition and being recognized when they’re on top will be a huge driving factor for Gen Z employees.

Remember to use caution when implementing leaderboards. While the drive to be in first place can be positive, the same people always staying in the top slots can be frustrating for employees who feel like they don’t measure up. The leaderboard can also be a source of embarrassment for those who find themselves on the bottom. Consider only displaying the top 5 of the leaderboard publicly and switching up the metric used to keep things fresh and even the playing field.

Raise the Stakes

The satisfaction of a job well done is great, but Gen Z employees live in a world that is full of extras. To peak their interest in a competition, try adding a prize that is a tangible good – or better yet, offer extra time off or a flexible schedule day. Research shows that workplace flexibility is becoming the most sought after benefit of Gen Z job hunters. Leveraging this to your advantage by offering a valuable reward helps to peak interest in performance competitions.

Get Festive

It might seem cheesy, but a fun event can bring a team together! It’s not uncommon for Gen Zers to lack in-person social skills, yet they typically crave teamwork and collaboration (unlike their millennial predecessors). Providing a themed party or day at the office that includes a non-performance related competition is a great way to set the tone for future workplace competitions.

Try easing your team into a competition with something like a desk decorating competition or a breakroom cook-off. Something fun yet competitive will help to open up the avenue to friendly competition for your team.


Get Out of the Office

Gen Z employees place a lot of value in a workplace that cares about their physical and mental health as much as it cares about their performance. Implementing a competition for employees like a 5k or obstacle course is great for team building and provides Gen Z employees with the enrichment they crave from their employer.

Workplace competitions can be great for morale and performance, but employers need to walk a fine-line to avoid frustration and negative impacts. Especially with the increase of Gen Z in the workplace, competitions can be harnessed for good now more than ever. Try easing your employees into more high-stakes performance driving competitions by starting with fun and lighthearted contests. This will help to establish a friendly feud instead of a culture of frustration and embarrassment.