Introducing gaming principles to the workplace

Richard Speight 24.04.2018

Since 2000 the gaming industry has exploded, growing from $7.9bn in revenue at the turn of the millennium to $107bn in 2017 - an increase of 1237.5%.

The rise of gaming in the modern day

To put that figure into perspective, the UK spent £35.3bn on its entire defence budget in 2017. In contrast, the labour market saw a drop over the same 17 years. More specifically, men in their 20’s without a college education shrunk 10%, from 82% to 72%. How do these two statistics relate? Well on average, of the extra 8 hours per day, this unemployed demographic shows 6 are spent on gaming.

A lack of drive for a career

One might first assume the reason this group spends so much time playing video games is that they have the time to do so, however things aren't quite that simple. In fact, there is a theory that gaming is the catalyst. After all games provide gratification, recognition, a sense of achievement and a challenge - things that we all crave. The theory goes that when these workers start their careers, those drivers are missing. They aren't challenged, they don't always receive the recognition they desire and gratification is nowhere to be seen.

This prompts the exit of a significant proportion of the male workforce in their 20's. It is important to point out that this is not exclusive to the male workforce in their 20's, and in fact if this hypothesis is correct, then we could soon see the issue crossing over into the more mature worker and across gender.

Social interaction enabled through gaming

In the past, work has still offered the base desire for social interaction but as the social element of gaming is also becoming more and more prevalent, this too is being satisfied. "But what are they doing for money?” Well we have all noticed the trend of twenty somethings still living at home. Who needs an income when the bank of Mum and Dad are picking up the tab? Of course, there are other factors at play that don't help, including the poor housing market and even worse income vs cost of living ratio in the UK.

How do we bring this worrying trend to an end? I think the first hurdle is to understand that work can be fun and is not the antithesis of play. According to pioneering play researcher Brian Sutton-Smith, the opposite of play is in fact depression and therefore work and play are not mutually exclusive. Once this becomes the approach of senior leadership and HR, it is easier to implement "Gamification" into your employee’s day to day.

The implementation of Gamification to the workplace

Gamification is not new. Marketing teams have been using it for years and more recently it has been adopted by recruitment teams to assess potential candidates. By introducing some of the key principles of Gamification like: social interaction, measurable progression, personalisation and the core loop (incentivising key actions), you can not only attract an area of the labour market currently in retreat but reduce staff turnover and improve job satisfaction. Something as simple as introducing a progress bar to track promotion criteria that can be compared with peers in real time will deliver on all four principles. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is how LinkedIn guides you through completing your profile.

So, whether you are a call centre, a consultancy, a retail store or an accountancy firm, just a few tweaks can see you tap into a new demographic and see retention increase as well. If you want more information about introducing Gamification to your workforce or any other recruitment needs, then please then please don't hesitate to contact me on

Richard Speight's picture
Manager, Accounting & Finance, Bristol