From simulating a workplace to measure recruits to tracking top sales on a leaderboard, employers are increasingly incorporating games into their workplaces.


“Gamification (is) a sometimes visible, often below-the-radar environment where basic human nature is leveraged to affect people’s behavior,” writes Steve Bates for the Society for Human Resource Management. “Once widely derided as a time-wasting fad, gamification has become integrated into many of the processes of our work and private lives.”


Gamification can engage employees and improve things like recruitment, training and onboarding, progress toward goals and collaboration. Many employers are using it as a tool to improve employee engagement, especially among young employees, writes Jeanne Meister for Forbes. “Millennials are the least engaged generation, according to Gallup, with only 28.9 percent engaged,” Meister writes. “Millennials say they do not have the opportunity to show their best work or have a vehicle to contribute their ideas and suggestions.”


Not only can gamification give them a voice, it can also help recruit the best employees. Facebook and Google have long hosted competitions to help them hire programmers, and non-tech companies are starting to follow suit.


Meister cites PwC Hungary’s Multipoly game, which allows recruits to solve real business problems. “Since PwC launched Multipoly, the firm has reported 190 percent growth in job candidates with 78 percent of users reporting they are interested to learn more about working at PwC,” she writes.


Games can also make onboarding and training more engaging. “You must maintain participants’ interest for them to complete and comprehend the lessons,” Bates writes. Qualcomm is using a game to crowdsource answers to problems, Meister writes. “Employees ask and answer technical questions and the best answers are voted up and rise to the top,” she writes. “In this form of gamification, Qualcomm employees receive points for their level of activity and engagement and then badges for doing unique things above and beyond, like answering a question that’s remained unanswered for 30 days.”


Leaderboards can also encourage employees during their ongoing work, and allow recognition for the strongest employees, according to Human Resource Executive Online. “Many people do not respond well to being told by their managers what goals they need to achieve,” according to the story. “But (by) giving someone a leaderboard, they actually strive for the top of it even if you don’t tell them to.”

To implement it well, Bates recommends identifying what you’re hoping to improve. Then, choose the best way to do it. Meister writes that this requires a strong understanding of your employees, as well as the ability to engage their emotions. “Qualcomm technical employees really wanted to answer colleagues’ questions, so understanding their intrinsic motivations led to the company fulfilling its business goals,” she writes. “More than points, badges and leaderboards, gamification engages at a core emotional level.”