Can gamification increase job satisfaction?

In employee engagement, some of the wishes I receive is to ensure everyone achieves job satisfaction. Measuring job satisfaction is not always that easy. On one hand, you have working conditions, the job role and duties that travel with this and on the other side you have the individual with skills, ambitions and various other life events happening whilst the job goes on. I always question how much you can control some of these measures. Because promising to deliver job satisfaction and then not being able to influence any of it, seems like setting yourself up for a losing battle.

If you flip the request to the parts that an employer can control, you have more of a fighting chance to achieve job satisfaction as a secondary gain. First of all look at what you can do to create a great working environment, which goes from an attractive workspace to functional and working equipment and tools, good benefits and a package the individual is happy with. With the needs of generations shifting, things like the latest software to work on and flexible work schedules are high up on the agenda for younger people.

The other element that influences job satisfaction is company culture. What is it like to work for your organisation, how does communication happen, what is acceptable and expected business practice? I would strongly suggest making this part of the employer branding and recruitment work your organisation does. In this sense, it can be gamified in its delivery. Examples of the use of short quests as part of the recruitment process to find out if the person is a true match exist quite widely. In a recent blog post, I shared the recruitment quest of Ueno, a digital agency. The tone taken in the exercise was a clear indicator of a work environment where open communication and certain opinions matter. The French post office also managed to convey good working habits through the shape of a game where players took on the job of the postman and took daily missions to find out about the work involved. The candidates with the right fit still went forward, however, the less likely fit dropped out by self-selection.

Being able to deliver on your job objectives is another contributing factor to job satisfaction. This is more than just tools for the job, but also to have colleagues that can help you deliver and opportunities to expand your skills. On any given project you are balancing people, budget and time, having clear communication and access to the resources to deliver is critical for most projects. Using gamification in this context can assist in sending early warning signs when things are starting to drop, with for example traffic light systems or other tracking mechanisms and visual progress boards. Workload also plays a factor and often the best people receive more than they can handle in terms of workload. Hence a manager needs to be able to allocate resources evenly or give help to those that need it which can come in the shape of a pair of hands as well as a course or instruction to work through a hurdle they never saw before.

If we now assume that our working conditions are great, we have a positive company culture and found people that match both the culture and the skills required to do their job, then we have created a recipe where job satisfaction can happen. Notice the word ‘can’ happen, it is not a guarantee, but at least we have made a good start. The remaining side is out of a companies’ control largely, it is individual from here on. I often have moments of great job satisfaction and then there are days that it seems like a far-fetched illusion. The illusion is then created by things not working as planned, me not being a great mindset, jetlag, personal things going on, health issues, etc. the reasons for not feeling at optimum performance can be plentiful. Knowing on average where people are at in an organisation, however, is something I would encourage and aim to have more positives than negatives any given day.

So can gamification help you create job satisfaction? Well in a way yes, but only if you aim gamification at those processes that you have in your control such as working conditions, company culture, recruitment, onboarding and performance support. You want to actively create a culture where your people can succeed and set them up to flag stumbling points either directly with their manager or team or indirectly through for example gamified productivity tools.


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