Game-Based Motivation Improves Business Results

Game-based motivation is the process of using game theory and game mechanics to motivate people, provide hyper-feedback, and change behavior.

In a corporate environment, professionals are motivated by:

1.   Feedback

2.   Status

3.   Access

4.   Growth

All four prongs are virtual, scalable, and relevant for every organization and communication initiative. Simply put, companies that focus on these four prongs can motivate people, change behavior, and improve their bottom line.

Remember the day you moved into your house? It was an amazing feeling. Years later, most likely you come home every night and don’t give it a second thought. That's because you receive the same stimulus over and over again. People need unique feedback and rewards along the way to remain engaged and excited.

Whether your goal is to improve training compliance, increase sharing of best practices, lift website activity, or drive incremental sales, game-based motivation can effectively change behavior, drive your business objectives,and produce better long-term results. Below are three examples of how game-based motivation is being used by corporations today.


At most companies, a cashier’s job can be lonely. After all, the only time they get feedback is when their drawer count is off. Not at Target. This retailer engages and encourages its cashiers every time they check out customers with a game  that flashes green or red lights based on whether each item scanned was done in an optimal timeframe. This small exercise:

A)  Sets clear goals and objectives

B)  Challenges employees to master a skill

C)  Provides immediate feedback based on progress

Target’s cashiers have an overall score that demonstrates how "in-time" they are -- and according to the retailer, since launching the program, cashier efficiency has increased, checkout times have lowered, and employee morale is up.


This software company was experiencing long wait times at its help desk. The company wanted to gamify a solution to improve efficiency. It started by adding a leaderboard and cash rewards for the fastest reps. However, the results weren't what management expected. Immediately wait times increased and employee turnover spiked; people were quitting their jobs and customer satisfaction plummeted.

Unlike Target, Omnicare didn't think about what was motivating the reps. Omnicare’s help desk employees are technically advanced and felt like the scoring system was Big Brother watching them. So Omnicare  changed the design of the system, focusing on a series of challenges. Today reps are given a challenge at the beginning of every shift. For example, a help desk support analyst might receive a note like this, "Today find three customers who have a specific problem with billing and help them." As they progress through these series of challenges, they are given short-term rewards that are achievement and recognition oriented (non-cash incentives).

Since launching the program, time in the Omnicare waiting queue has been reduced by 50%, customer satisfaction is back up, and employee turnover is down.

Merck & Co.

In the U.S., 33% of people infected with HIV do not undergo regular care. The National HIV/AIDS strategy prioritizes the critical goals of linking patients to care. To support this goal, Merck & Co developed bridge2care (which my company helped develop), an e-learning solution for health-care professionals using video-based patient-provider simulations and knowledge games, points, and badges to create an immersive, engaging experience. Based on a pilot study among 25 HIV service organizations in New York City, 93% of users reported that they now feel prepared to implement the skills learned in bridge2care.

While each of these examples focuses on recognition, status, and access, they have all been designed in very different ways. Depending on your audience and your call to action, you might want to deploy competitions, discounts, prizes, public recognition, or any other relevant incentive. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but gamifying your processes correctly can motivate people, change behavior, and improve your bottom line.

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