IT companies are turning to ‘gamification’ to get better productivity in the workspace

IT companies across the world are constantly on the lookout for activities to engage their employees and lessen the pressure and banality that come with working in front of the computer all day, every day. Now imagine a work culture that is as engaging and absorbing as playing a game of Assassin’s Creed or Angry Birds with your best friend. Complete each task successfully and earn brownie points, which lead to advantages and a step up to the next level. That’s gamification of the workspace for you.

For the uninitiated, ‘gamification’ involves businesses trying to engage customers or employees with the essence of game play. “Games operate on concepts such as engagement, transparency, and competition, and here employers set work tasks as milestones to be cleared, to motivate employees to better their performance records, all the while making the whole experience interesting and fun-filled,” explains Saritha S., an HR professional in Technopark. It is a fast emerging trend in the global corporate world with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Deloitte using gamification to get better business results.

Technopark, though, is yet to catch up on this trend. Some companies already apply these concepts to certain aspects of their work. In UST Global, for example, gamification is used for training purposes on client accounts. “Trainees learn the business process through a series of games,” says an HR guy with the company. QBurst uses the concept in certain team activities and also develops gamification apps for their clients.

Of all companies on campus perhaps only Digital Brand Group (DBG), a web and apps development enterprise with 44 people on its rolls and based in Tejaswini building, embraces the gamification work culture in totality. “Essentially, IT is a creative field and the assembly-line way of working is not really conducive to creativity. That’s why increasingly companies are looking at gamification to get the creativity flowing. The three fundamental things IT firms aim for is on-time delivery of projects, effective communication with clients and a friendly environment at work. What matters is not the number of hours put in, but the quality of the hours and their results. Our idea is to give as much free rein to the employees as possible, with accountability,” says Deepu G. Nath, managing director of the firm.

That means issuing ‘badges’ for achievement, fixing achievement levels, a leader-board on who’s in the running for the top spot in a project, a visual metre to indicate how close people are to completing a task, and so on. “We encourage systems for awarding, redeeming, trading, gifting, and so on for work done – all peer reviewed. Earning badges and good reputations add to your point scale and that in turn leads to rewards and privileges. For instance, if an employee reaches the ‘ultimate trustworthy person’ level, he is given the freedom to work from anywhere, at anytime, provided that he is accountable,” adds Deepu. DBG has been working with gamification for the past six years.

Another concept that they have recently introduced is the ‘happiness rating’ – a series of five smileys that let people know how much of a team player a person is. “As in all cases, team members rate each other’s happiness. Everybody aims for the smiley that’s bursting with laughter,” says Deepu. Even the company gets a smiley, the average of all the smileys of employees.

DBG’s office itself is designed to make work unfettered. It’s an open plan space, with plenty of colourful bean bags to sit on, if the employees don’t feel like working behind their desks. There’s a pantry stocked with treats and even a couple of video game consoles for employees to let lose in the middle of the work day.