Poppulo
Employee CommsCulture

11 Brilliant Gamification Ideas for Employee Engagement

By 

 — December 18th, 2023

11 Brilliant Gamification Ideas for Employee Engagement

Internal Gamification for better Employee Engagement

Healthy competition. An oxymoron? Or a concept that can be adapted and leveraged by astute employers?

When manifested through gamification, workplace competition can inspire diligence and excellence. Games resonate with the universal desire to push the boundaries of our perceived capabilities. For organizations, this can translate to targets being exceeded and a highly engaged, motivated workforce. Remarkably, companies incorporating gamification are reported to be seven times more profitable than those who do not!

At its core, gamification is the infusion of game elements and mechanics into “non-game” contexts, transforming mundane tasks into engaging experiences. By incorporating elements such as challenges, rewards, and friendly competition, gamification aligns with individuals' fundamental desires for achievement, autonomy, and mastery. It sparks a sense of purpose and accomplishment. This ability to tap into intrinsic motivation makes gamification an employee engagement powerhouse.

And, employees are in agreement;

  • 72% say gamification motivates them to do tasks and work harder on the job.
  • 90% of employees say gamification makes them more productive at work

1. Leaderboards and Recognition Gamification

Admit it! There is something deep down inside us all that likes seeing our name proudly sitting at the top of a list! Leaderboards inject a dose of competition into the workplace, inspiring individuals to push their limits. The visual representation of performance rankings sparks friendly rivalry and cultivates a sense of achievement. Public recognition for top performers amplifies this effect, creating a positive feedback loop that boosts morale across the team. When employees see their names in the spotlight, it validates their hard work and instills a sense of pride and camaraderie. This gamified approach not only enhances individual performance but cultivates a vibrant, collaborative atmosphere where each achievement is celebrated, propelling the entire team toward success.

2. Achievement Unlocks and Badges for Employee Motivation

The psychological impact of earning badges and unlocking achievements is profound, tapping into the innate human desire for recognition and accomplishment. As employees accumulate badges for completing tasks or reaching milestones, they can literally see their progress. A sense of competence and pride is the result. Badges can be virtual (a visible marker on the employee profile, for example) or physical (a pin or emblem that an employee can wear on their clothing or attach to a lanyard.) The visual representation of badges serves as a symbolic reward and a constant reminder of personal and collective achievements, contributing to a positive and goal-oriented work culture, with a high level of employee engagement.

3. Points System and Rewards Gamification

We're all familiar with points and rewards systems – a grocery store mainstay becoming increasingly common throughout the retail industry. An internal gamification point system in the workplace provides a transparent, measurable way to track performance while also adding that element of anticipation. The allure of accumulating points creates a natural incentive for employees to consistently outperform, driving productivity.

The real gamification magic happens when these hard-earned points translate into rewards. From vouchers to personalized experiences, the scope of reward options caters to diverse preferences, ensuring each employee can find motivation in their own way. According to a study by Indeed, 30% of people who left a job within the first six months said being recognized more for their unique contributions could have helped them stay longer. This gamified approach not only recognizes and celebrates achievements but also fuels an ongoing cycle of dedication and enthusiasm within the workplace.

4. Team Challenges Gamification

Gamified engagement and teamwork - a match made in productivity heaven! Recognizing the pivotal role of teamwork in organizational success, this approach introduces challenges that build collaboration and camaraderie. Some ideas and examples include sales blitz competitions, innovation hackathons, customer feedback challenges, process Improvement rallies, and leadership development quests.

Team challenges not only highlight the collective strength of a group but also enhance communication and problem-solving skills. The impact of these games becomes even more evident when conducted in person, particularly for groups that primarily communicate remotely. As teams work together to overcome obstacles and achieve common goals, a sense of alignment deepens, creating unity.

5. Training Quests and Continuous Learning

One of the cool things about gamification is its inherent flexibility. It can be applied in so many different facets of work, in so many different ways. Take, for example, how gamification can transform skill development. Let’s face it: conventional approaches can often lead to monotony. But, by turning training into interactive quests, employees can become immersed in engaging learning experiences. Each training module becomes a quest to conquer, complete with challenges and rewards. A dash of excitement and a significant improvement in knowledge retention - it’s a win-win! Interactive challenges and immediate feedback create a dynamic learning environment, reinforcing concepts in a way that traditional methods often struggle to achieve. This innovative approach not only ensures employees stay invested in their professional development but also sets the stage for a workforce that thrives on acquiring and applying new skills.

6. Recognition Wall and Peer Appreciation

How important is providing a platform for colleagues to acknowledge and celebrate each other's accomplishments? According to one study, peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.

Virtual Recognition Walls create a visible testament to the collective achievements within the organization. This boosts individual morale and nurtures a collaborative atmosphere where acknowledgment becomes a currency of motivation. The ripple effect of positivity extends throughout the workplace, contributing to a thriving culture of recognition and mutual respect.

Of course, a physical wall would open the door to a whole range of gamification possibilities. You could incorporate interactive elements, such as digital displays, QR codes linking to success stories, or areas for employees to leave notes of appreciation for their colleagues. The wall could also be a focal point for celebration events or ceremonies, creating a dedicated space where employees can gather to honor their peers.

7. Mystery Rewards and Surprise Incentives


Unexpected or mystery rewards are akin to the tried and tested marketing approach of “surprise and delight.” Essentially, HR and communications teams use gamification to turn routine tasks into fun, unpredictable opportunities for recognition and celebration. The surprise component captivates employees, keeping motivation levels high, while the mystery element heightens anticipation. Whether it’s spot bonuses, VIP Parking Privileges, day off coupons, or a “lunch with leadership, “ the outcome is the same: the employee now feels that their dedication and hard work can yield unexpected yet delightful outcomes. A huge boost for employee engagement!

8. Feedback Games for Improvement

Feedback sessions can often prove daunting and uncomfortable for many employees. Research shows that almost half of all UK employees (49%) are either indifferent to or dread their performance reviews. In the poll, 16% admitted to ‘usually dreading’ or ‘always dreading’ performance reviews.

By turning the process into a game, employees are encouraged to provide insightful input that feels less intimidating and more fun and interactive. Points, badges, or virtual rewards can be introduced to acknowledge and appreciate valuable feedback. Or you could get creative! How about asking team members to participate in a lively game of Pictionary with a twist? Instead of drawing random words or phrases, participants illustrate aspects of their colleagues' strengths, areas for improvement, or notable contributions to the team. The drawings are then shared anonymously, and the team collaboratively deciphers the feedback. This unconventional gamification approach adds creativity to the feedback process and encourages open dialogue and a deeper understanding of each team member's unique qualities.

The gamification of feedback is perhaps a little more unconventional compared to some of the other ideas on this list. Yet, it can genuinely motivate less outgoing employees to actively engage in the improvement journey. Once employees’ buy-in is secured, the result is a workplace culture where growth is celebrated and constructive input is a valued contribution to collective success.

9. Storytelling Challenges and Company Culture

We are, as a species, addicted to story.” — Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.

By asking employees to weave stories around their experiences, projects, or values, storytelling challenges become a vehicle for employees to share their unique perspectives and insights. Let’s say you ask a team to share a snapshot story—a brief narrative capturing a memorable workplace moment or a lesson learned. Whether through a written paragraph, a photo, or a short video, participants must convey the essence of their story in a compact format. This gamification challenge encourages the team to appreciate and learn from each other's experiences in bite-sized, impactful doses. Storytelling taps into our natural empathy and creates a sense of connection and understanding. As narratives unfold, a rich tapestry of shared experiences strengthens company culture and employee engagement by highlighting common values and goals, celebrating both diversity and shared identity.

10. Gamified Wellness Challenges for Healthy Employees

A mention of the word “wellness” can elicit two very different responses! Some embrace workplace wellness, while others steer clear. However, by incorporating teamwork, rewards, and, above all, fun into wellness initiatives, employees are inspired to embrace and sustain healthier lifestyles. These gamification challenges go beyond traditional wellness programs, turning exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness activities into engaging “quests.”

For example, a step count challenge invites teams to compete to see who can collectively accumulate the highest number of steps. Equipped with fitness trackers, each participant contributes to their team's progress by taking steps throughout the day. Milestones and achievements unlock gamification rewards, creating a sense of accomplishment and friendly competition.

The impact is twofold, enhancing physical health and positively influencing overall employee satisfaction. In the gamified pursuit of well-being, the workplace becomes a supportive, vibrant environment where healthy habits are celebrated, motivation is intrinsic, and success is a collective journey.

11. Trivia Competitions for Company Knowledge

Last but not least… you can’t beat a good, old-school round of trivia! Sometimes, the simplest approach is best, and most families will attest to the fact that whenever someone calls out a crossword clue or a trivia question, lively interaction ensues.

By exploring a company's history, values, and achievements through trivia, learning becomes enjoyable. Trivia competitions can promote a deeper understanding of the organization's mission and culture, aligning employees with core values. A work environment where learning is celebrated makes for a workforce that is well-informed, connected, and proud of its collective identity.

Employee Gamification: Conclusion

These 11 gamification ideas for employee engagement serve as a diverse toolkit for organizations seeking to invigorate their work culture. From leaderboards and points challenges to feedback and storytelling games, employees from all generations will experience a breath of fresh air and start to look at their work in a different way. Whether it's celebrating achievements with virtual badges or promoting company values through reward games, spin-to-win wheels or even scratch cards, these gamification strategies cater to the multifaceted needs of a modern workforce.

And what of the losing team or the employee who finishes last? Experiencing setbacks in a competitive environment builds resilience and cultivates the crucial ability to bounce back from challenges, nurturing an employee mindset that embraces adversity as an opportunity for growth. These moments of adversity serve as valuable learning experiences and shape individuals into more tenacious contributors.

Crucially, the power lies in the customizable nature of these gamification approaches. Each idea can be tailored to fit the unique dynamics and goals of any organization. This adaptability ensures that gamification isn't a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a versatile set of tools that can be wielded to address specific challenges and aspirations.

So, it’s clear: gamification for employee engagement extends beyond a mere trend. It's an innovative approach that catalyzes engagement, fuels collaboration and offers organizations the opportunity to unlock the full potential of their teams.

Let the gamification begin!

The best on communications delivered weekly to your inbox.
Redefining the Role of the Communicator: Insights from Gallagher's State of the Sector
ON-DEMAND WEBINAR

Redefining the Role of the Communicator: Insights from Gallagher's State of the Sector

View more