According to Jane McGonigal, a game designer from San Francisco and prominent TED presenter, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games globally. These aren’t just console games – that game of candy crush you play on the commute home makes you a gamer. While you think you are just passing the time, Jane McGonigal argues we globally need to be playing more games.

The sense of accomplishment

Games offer meaningful accomplishments and clear achievements, providing structured experiences with instant feedback. Studies, such as those by Sitzmann (2010), demonstrate how games can have a positive impact on chronic pain, recovery from injuries, stress reduction and combating depression. Games enhance decision-making skills, creativity, cognitive flexibility and learning – essential for today's knowledge-based work.

Gamification, the application of game mechanics and thinking in non-game contexts, has gained traction in the workplace. It applies game elements to create a "gameful" experience, using rewards like badges and points or real-life incentives such as bonuses or free coffee. Deloitte, for example, successfully gamified their leadership development program, utilising badges and leader boards on their online learning platform. MI5 and the US Army also employ gamification for recruitment purposes, while Microsoft's "Ribbon Hero 2" game aids in learning to use their Microsoft Office suite (Sitzmann, 2010).

Don't overlook productivity

Gamification extends beyond training and recruitment. It can be applied in various ways to enhance productivity and engagement in the workplace. For instance, Google gamified its expense system, allowing workers to donate travel savings to a charity of their choice. This approach not only improves efficiency but also adds a sense of purpose to mundane tasks. The use of gamification in the workplace has proven to increase engagement with learning courses, drive traffic to online platforms and promote desirable behaviours (Sitzmann, 2010).

It is important to recognise that gamification alone cannot replace effective management practices. Poorly designed attempts that focus solely on rankings and points without emphasising collaboration and learning may lead to negative outcomes. Games should be collaborative, fostering teamwork and knowledge sharing. While games and gamification enhance workplace experiences, they should be seen as complementary to good management rather than a substitute. By incorporating game elements, organisations can add motivation and enjoyment to the work environment (Sitzmann, 2010).