Are we having fun (at work) yet?

A version of this article appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of strategy+business.

Anybody who’s endured a tense Scrabble night with their family or been picked last for the team at school knows that “friendly” competition isn’t always fun and games. What might seem like endless amusement to some can be a source of anxiety to others. Nevertheless, in an effort to boost performance, lighten the mood, or relieve the tedious nature of repetitive work, many managers have introduced game-playing to the workplace, typically in the form of app-based competitions.

This so-called gamification of work has caught on in several fields, including retail, banking, and human resources. It’s been hailed as a way to keep employees more engaged and focused (especially those in younger generations who grew up playing video games). The appeal is obvious. Research shows that job satisfaction is the key to employee happiness and engagement, and engaged workers tend to be dynamic, supportive, and committed at work. Engaged employees also deliver higher-quality customer service and are less likely to quit, which cuts down on organizational turnover costs.

For example, call centers can use an app that translates customer service requests into virtual tickets assigned to employees; individuals or teams then compete according to various performance metrics (such as customer waiting time, average call duration, and number of requests handled) to win prizes. Ideally, employees are motivated to stay on track while improving their customer response rate in real time.

Read the original article here