Gamification for Employee Engagement

By Greg Hunter, RT (R) (T)

      Beth Boynton, RN, MS


Gamification has indeed been buzzing in the healthcare industry in the last few years. But not everyone is aware of what it really is or what it is for.

The term ‘gamification’ can be a total turn-off to those who are really not into the playing mode. To these people who take life more ‘seriously’ this concept is prejudiced as a waste of time. This is because people are bound to think that they would be playing silly games while being at work.

Gamification is in fact taking the essence out of games and applying the concept of gaming in real life situations to produce desired results. In the healthcare setting, the application of gaming is already evident in several areas. In the education of practitioners, for example, would-be surgeons earn points in a game application when they pinpoint with precision the part where they will make a cut in a certain procedure. Game mechanics have also been inculcated in the care of patients. In physical therapy for example, patients are encouraged to move their wheelchairs that serve as joysticks in a game app that make them move with purpose according to their therapy. And then in the recent years, the health care industry has started embracing gamification as part of improving employee engagement.

For our purpose today, we will focus on the latter: on how gamification is changing the way employees in healthcare institutions view and do their jobs, and how it improves overall job satisfaction.

Just what it is in gamification that makes it tick in the healthcare sector?

Well, for one, it has been predicted. Five years ago, M2 Research ,a market research and strategic consulting company had projected that by this current year more than $2 billion would be spent on gamification. And they were right.

Secondly, other industries have been there, done it and they have become big time success stories. Target’s story on how they exemplified gamification in their industry is no secret at all. They have improved the speed by which cashiers scan the items by simply having a green light flicker for timely scanning and then earning points after every finished transaction. It resulted to better customer satisfaction and employee recognition accordingly.

The healthcare sector has started embracing this strategy to drive engagement as people learn new things and become recognized for their contributions to the team. Imagine a manager having his most timid team member first to respond to gamified information dissemination on new protocols and having that person invite several co-workers to do the same through a gamification platform! What an accomplishment that would be!

Another reason is that, with gamification, there is fast feedback. The feedback is automatic and a direct result of response or behavior change of the staff. Let’s say, a new clinical pathway has been created, for example. The traditional method of posting it on the boards or sending emails to all recipients do not guarantee at all if it has been received, read and understood. Through gamification, scores are created for everyone who reads it on a timely manner, for those who can fill in the blanks and those who poked others to do it, too. The best thing about this technique is that there is instant feedback, and those shown in the leaderboards can be given recognition automatically. Consequently, feedback and recognition drives engagement.

Perhaps one important reason why gamification is trending is that the bulk of workers today are from Generation Y (GenY). GenYers are those born not earlier than 1980’s andare said to be more open to digitalization, the use of social media and gamification techniques. These strategies are actually easily welcomed and adapted.

And finally, the ultimate reason why gamification is trending is that it inculcates fun in work. Yes, you read it right! There can be enjoyment while working. While others will view this with great doubt, it has been proven many times that it sure can. In fact, ManageUp a leader provider of workforce development services has utilized gamification to foster employee engagement. If you want to know more on how they have been doing it, click here.




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