Why Gamification Isn't a Silver Bullet

Why Gamification Isn't a Silver Bullet

Gamification has grown to the extent that it can sometimes be touted as a silver bullet for a host of workplace woes. Add a game element to a task purveyors say, and employees will instantly become engaged and productive.

Except that isn’t quite the case. A badly designed application of gamification can create a sense of ‘forced fun’, which can often backfire spectacularly. A study from Wharton looked at this topic in more detail and found that when fun appears forced in the workplace, it actually does more harm than good.

A lot of this can be attributed to gamification following the hype cycle created by Gartner, whereby a new thing hits the market, accompanied by extensive hype and expectation. The kind of hype and expectation that it can’t possibly meet. Only after some time has passed does that hype die down and the lessons learnt from failed implementations ensures some decent results are seen.

With Gartner also predicting that 80% of gamification efforts fail to meet business objectives, there are certainly plenty of lessons to take away. Whilst there will no doubt be some that will say that the task of any manager is to make the work itself intrinsically worthwhile, and therefore engaging and enjoyable, there will almost certainly be times when work isn’t fun.

The Wharton paper mentioned earlier highlights the importance of involving employees in the construction of each game. When the game is one created by management, it can often come across like its mandatory fun, with the result that people had negative feelings about their work.

When games are imposed like they are in gamification, buy-in isn’t assured,” the researcher says. “If people buy into the game, we see big increases in positive affects. If they don’t buy into the game, there is a negative effect.”

So in the worst sense there are performance drops, but even when gamification is well accepted, it does not always generate stronger performances. The study found no discernible increase in performance, even amongst those who appreciated the game element of the task.

It did however make them happier at work, which has to be a good thing. So the message seems to be clear. If you want to use games in the workplace, you should at least involve people in their construction. That is if you want a happy workplace.

Photo Credit: Gamefication frustration/shutterstock

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The Silver Linings of Social Media Mistakes


You know what they say about mistakes: Everyone makes them. That holds true in social media as well. But if we start fearing that a particular social media stratagem might fail and that fear leads us to stop experimenting, that would be the biggest mistake of all.

The more you start restraining yourself on social media or on any platform while marketing a brand, the more breaking out of those restraints feels like an insurmountable endeavor.

Regretting mistakes may just pave a way to the doom of your business, and everlasting regret is one territory you don’t want to explore.

So, here’s a look at the silver linings of mistakes made in social media.

You can usually find something from within the carnage that worked

Your last social media program may have been a disaster, but maybe something can make results look a little more hopeful. There must have been something that paid its dues. Unless you created that program in your sleep, you must have formulated a thread that didn’t snap. Find what worked.

Running a campaign on the social media pages for any brand is never short on challenges. Some issues are small enough to be blatantly ignored, and others are large enough to make you lose you sleep—but you managed to deal with them effectively. Evaluate your campaign and the ensuing results to identify those not-so-disastrous parts that you can use in your future attempts with a greater degree of desirable results.

In online marketing, you may not meet the adequate or the expected results, but you have covered some distance.

You stop being afraid of failure

The more proactive you are, the more equipped you are to sail over the failures quicker than you expected. When you are involved in a campaign, it is imperative that you dole out ideas aggressively, as it allows you to try out multiple things and experiment with a greater deal of assurance; you have something to fall back to in the event you run into a wall.

Fearing about the results is natural, especially when we have invested far too much effort and far too many resources on building something. Poor results can lead to thought paralysis (which emanates from fear and leads to greater fear). That’s where the final nail is pushed in.

Those among us who have been there and done that won’t let these discrepancies bog us down. We’ll continually move forward. I have observed blogs like Leisure Martini that keep experimenting with its social media strategies, and despite being a beginner, it has made its experiments count. That’s because when your eyes are set on that “final objective,” an undying, non-fearing spirit will lead you to it.

You can have a second (or third or fourth) chance

There isn’t a common denominator to everything on social media. You’ve invested logical thinking and resources into building a plan, so there is no reason why your plan shouldn’t be given a second chance, despite being a disaster on the first go.

Moreover, social media is unpredictable. A little change here, a little molding there, and the failed program may be raring to go.

You can run variations of the same social media campaigns (successful and failed ones) to see how they fare for a different client. The plans, its resources, and the efforts that fueled it are never wasted. It is the haplessness of the doer who doesn’t take chances that tosses those efforts into the waste bin.

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Getting things done and getting them done in a manner most effective is what all boils down to in the end. You won’t succeed in everything you do, but you become more capable of handling failures and planning for the next success.

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