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How to design good gamification experiences at work

If you are going to design a gamification experience at work, it’s handy to have a gamification framework to help you. A good gamification framework gives you insights on what kind of human core drives you are addressing with different game mechanics, and how you can create a design based on what you think will really motivate people in the workplace. Yu-kai Chou describes it like this at his blog:

“Most systems are “function-focused,” designed to get the job done quickly. This is like a factory that assumes its workers will do their jobs because they are required to. However, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in a system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do certain things, and therefore optimizes for their feelings, motivations, and engagement.”

That is why I love the Octalysis, a gamification framework created by our Keynote speaker Yu-kai Chou. This framework applies an approach based on behavioral science and eight human core drives, and combines it with knowledge about game design. The model itself is not tied to any specific area of expertise, it is up to you how you adapt it to your own process. The eight core drives are:

1) Epic Meaning & Calling

2) Development & Accomplishment

3) Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

4) Ownership & Possession

5) Social Influence & Relatedness

6) Scarcity & Impatience

7) Unpredictability & Curiosity

8) Loss & Avoidance

For example, if your coworker’s main core drive is to develop skills and become better of what they do (core drive 2) they won’t get motivated by a leaderboard showing who has the best result in sales competition this month if they are not top performers, because it won’t say anything about the progress in important skills used to become a good salesperson, it just measures the result. Maybe a feedback session with an experienced mentor is a better motivation for these people (core drive 3)? This will probably work very well if someone is motivated to get better at what they do. On the other hand, if someone feels that their job is really boring and/or mountonus, you should instead try to add some delightful surprises to the experiences (core drive 7) rather than work with feedback (core drive 2).

So, how can you use this knowledge in your own business? By analyzing the people in the workplace before creating a bonussystem or LMS for example. When you know what kind of people you are addressing with your system and what their core drives are, you can try to apply game mechanics to the system that fit as many as possible of your coworkers, not just the competitive one’s. And remember that different core drives can apply to the same people, depending on the situation and task at hand, so don’t get to static in your way of thinking around the design.

To learn more about (and see examples) how to use the Octalysis, read this blogpost from Yu-kai Chou.


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