Getting employees motivated to perform their best can be challenging, but some companies are using an approach born of the video gaming age. —Ryan Elkins

SALT LAKE CITY — Getting employees motivated to perform their best can be challenging, but some companies are using an approach born of the video gaming age.

“Gamification” has entered the workplace and it is changing the way some firms get their workers to become more productive.

Gamification is the use of video game thinking and game principles in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems.

“The goal is to help people be able to focus on what they are doing and help them understand how the things they do contribute (to the company) and help them see how they progress over time,” said Ryan Elkins, founder and chief executive officer of iActionable — a Salt Lake City-web based gamification software platform that applies game mechanics and principles to non-game applications.

He said the concept works in aiding workers to advance from new employee to workplace master in business processes.

 “Gamification tries to address how we can best help people on the journey moving through the system … whether they are working at a call center or a sales desk,” Elkins said. “How do they learn how to use their tools most effectively and do their jobs better.”

He said the concept gives managers a way to monitor and track employees progress within a company.

“It's being able to have goals, seeing how well they are meeting those goals and seeing how well they are doing compared to their peers,” Elkins said.

He said much of the data compilied is used to attempt to “quantify a person’s worth,” and give that person and the company enough information to help make better decisions on how they spend their time at work.

“It helps managers do their jobs better because they get better insight,” Elkins said. “If they are decent managers, they can figure out how to better train the people that are struggling or how to pair them up with people that are good at the areas where they are having a hard time.”

Market research indicates that growth of gamification platforms in the workplace will increase from $100 million nationwide in 2012 up to $2.8 billion by 2016, said David Elkington, chief executive officer of Provo-based

He noted that Generation Y or millennials — those born in the late 1970’s, the 1980’s and later — are the group most motivated by this “gaming” approach to productivity.

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Using big screen monitors with “leaderboards,” workers are able to follow their daily progress compared to their peers, which promotes a higher level of competition among co-workers, and results in increased productivity, he said.

“You’ll see the (competition) not just in sales, but in information technology, human resources, recruiting, in marketing and even in finance,” he said. “You’ll see it in every department. The millennials love competition and incentives.”

He said money is not the only motivator for this generation.

"It’s an issue of recognition, of creating drive and having fun with your coworkers,” Elkington said.


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