From The Editor | July 23, 2014

Could Gamification Improve The Performance Of Your Mobile Workforce?

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
Follow Us

Gamification of mobile apps is a trend I heard about at an industry event a couple months ago. I found the idea of gamification of mobile apps — and the potential for what it can do — pretty interesting, so I thought it’d be worth exploring a bit here. The idea of gamification of mobile apps as it relates to use in business is that you can use game-like mechanics within a work-related application to motivate workers to complete certain tasks.

We’ve all found ourselves perpetually sucked into a video game or solitaire on our smartphones. The idea is that the same urge you feel to “win” when playing these games (and to keep playing until you do) will be translated to an urge to achieve the job-related goals set forth in the “gamified” mobile app. This is because gamification can be used as a tool to foster intrinsic motivation within employees (the kind of motivation we’re feeling when we have that need to win), while most incentives and rewards offered in the workplace fall into the category of extrinsic motivation (financial rewards, goal trips, extra vacation days, and so on). So, if done successfully, gamification can serve as a way to motivate your workers in a new way.

One example of this that I’ve noticed is the speed counters that high-volume retail and grocery check-outs use. That speed counter can provide intrinsic motivation for employees to keep a certain pace, and it can also be tied to extrinsic motivation — such as the top performing cashier per month receiving a monetary bonus. What are some examples of how gamification could relate to the mobile workforce? Training is one example. Rather than providing a manual to read through, gamification could enable you to provide training in a more interactive way (users earn points for completing certain modules, etc.). Gamification can also be used to maximize the productivity of day-to-day work. Want your field techs to enter job notes as soon as they leave the customer site or in a certain way? Gamification can help you motivate your workers to comply with these kinds of objectives.

Beware The Potential Pitfalls Of Gamification
Gamification isn’t without its potential challenges, though. First, you have to make sure that the goals employees are working toward within the app are goals you have buy-in on — it isn’t a magic way to coerce employees to do things they don’t want to do. It’s best used as a way to further motivate/reward them to follow protocols already in place and comply with goals that have already been established. Second, like any technology or tool you can deploy to improve the performance of your workforce, if it isn’t utilized correctly, it can backfire. If gamification is something that you think your organization could benefit from, make sure you consult with a professional to fully understand its uses, what’s involved in deploying such a solution, and what the potential drawbacks are.