Gamification, the future of work ?

Motivating your teams through games is a concept that is becoming more and more popular. I am convinced that this concept will be the new grail taught in management schools to motivate teams, if not already. Not so far from the alienating concept of metaverse, gamification is probably going to become the new standard of management for the new generations of workers.

You probably today already use tools at work which are on the verge of gamification, like a data visualisation tool, showing you charts, graphs, tables or infographics. With the recent progresses made in big data analysis, these tools are a must when it comes to get maximum value out of it, great for improving conversion rate for example.

The definition of a “game” is an activity that one engages in for amusement or fun. Think about it, would you be more happy at work if you constantly got little rewards ? Hard to say no right ? But can we really play when our main source of income is at stake ? Hmmm, not so easy anymore 🤔

Like any application today, the first goal of gamification is to gain attention, making it’s user (in this case worker) concentrate on its goal and not be distracted by his smartphone for example.
There has been quite many studies on how an employee checking it’s Instagram during work, is losing a LOT of productivity, and how long it actually takes him/her to fully concentrate again on it’s work. Smartphones and moreover social networks are a real problem today when it comes to work.

To make it easier to understand, if you are a truck driver and you are checking your phone during your work, the risk of accidents because of those few seconds out of your phones is most probably 20 times higher than if you did not. Same applies to any worker, without of course the life threatening results (it was an example) but with the economical consequences for the company.

Here we can easily see, how gamification will most probably automatically link an employee to the lost of a client in real time. This implies a risk of amplification on the employee side of the the consequences of a negative action. It could be seen as a good point on a manager side, being able to immediately take action, but the effect on the psychological health of the employee in this case are probably made worse.
It’s not without reminding me the way Amazon treat their employees, whether it is in their warehouses or their office workers… (external link)

Therefore, in my opinion, what is sold today as a full solution of gamification, is just a very nicer way to present what has been the daily life of very large customer services, with robots dividing work in between agents, constantly measuring the time on the phone, time to answer a live chat, watching their every moves, choices, toilet breaks and monitoring their customer satisfaction ; basically all measurement that we can englobe in a standard set of customer service SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
No need to spend hours researching what could be in the end the limits and the bad sides of gamification, we already know most of them 🤓

In the end, the main challenge with the future of gamification is finding the perfect balance between benefits and risks for the company and it’s employees, to maintain a life / work / balance and a psychologically stable environment of work.
Mistakes should not become GAME OVERs otherwise people will work sick with fear. The ultimate goal being to make work pleasant and motivating and not making it addictive and dangerous, ending up in a greater overall performance.

Note for myself : I think I would love to work on the product side of a gamification software solution. But until that, let’s first finish my career shift in development 🤔

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