How gamification changed the rules of the game

Thu | 24.08.2017


A recent survey conducted by Gallup shows that ,globally, 70% of employees are not engaged at their job. Moreover, a research conducted by Deloitte reveals that over 87% of HR managers and professionals are facing an increasing lack of engagement of employees.

Why are employees different nowadays?

The Gallup survey shows that only 30% of global employees are engaged at work. In Europe, the engagement of employees is also very low. On average, only 16% of employees are engaged in the activities they perform at work, 68% are not involved, while 24% are actively unengaged and publicly expressing their complains. According to Gallup estimates, the latter may have a significant negative impact at organizational level, generating losses of billions of euros to the economy.

The data becomes even more relevant if we look at the generations segmentation: the degree of engagement in Millenials is only 29%, while in Generation X and Boomers 33%. Millenials and Generation X grew up with the Internet, games and social media and they expect to be ble to use the same tools in their professional activities. Although until recently, the financial benefits were the primary means of motivating employees, a recent study conducted by Sodexo has shown that 69% of Millennials believe that the main factor in the performance of organizations worldwide is the quality of life of employees. Numerous studies agree that this generation values are related to flexibility, entertainment and personal development.

What can be done to increase the level of engagement?

In this social context, traditional methods of motivating employees become depricated and less successful. Companies are forced to focus on innovative approaches, adapted to the psychological profile of the new generations.

One of the most succesful modern instruments for increasing the engagement level of employees is gamification, which has already been implemented in large multinational companies such as Google, Deloitte and Cisco. Gamification means integrating gaming concepts and elements into organizational processes, from recruiting, training and development to increasing the motivation and engagement levels of employees. Here are some examples of companies that improved their performance by implementing gamification:

  • SAP: they implemented a gamification system for SAP Community Network that led to a 400% increase in the utilization degree and a 96% increase of feedback
  • Google: they implemented gamification their travel expenses system, reaching 100% compliance from their employees
  • Deloitte: they gamified their training system, reducing by 50% the employees’ completion time and significantly increasing their involvment in the programs
  • Ford: they gamifies the learning portal if the employees and increased by 100% the number of activities/user withing only 5 weeks
Why does gamification work? The brain, dopamine and motivation.

Gamification is based on the psychology of motivation, namely on the close link between dopamine and getting a reward. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the brain, which plays a vital role in our state of happiness. The brain releases dopamine every time we experience something pleasurable, including rewards. In terms of productivity, the more people reach more goals, the more dopamine is released and they remain motivated. Gamification acts in this area offering small rewards for completing small objectives and tasks.

Gamification only works when people are motivated to do something, so it is important to know where motivation comes from. The Scientific American journal says that motivation is based on three fundamental elements:

  • Autonomy: People are motivated when they are in control and tend to focus on their goals for a longer period of time.
  • Value: We are more motivated when a goal is important to us.
  • Competence: The better we become at something, the more likely it is to keep doing it and enjoying it.

In terms of gamification, this theory appeals to our inner motivation and nurtures it through different systems of rewards and competitive spirit. A study conducted by Badgville, one of the most important players on the gamification market, shows that game based motivation improves the performance of employees, increasing their productivity by 90% and the degree of awareness of their objectives and tasks by 86%.


Numerous studies have been conducted regarding the impact of the level of engagement and motivation of the employees on the oevrall performance of companies and researches by Gallup have concluded that productivity and profitability are, on average, increased by 20% in companies that have a high level of commitment of employees.

In Romania, the gamification phenomenon is still at the beginning. However, initiatives in this respect have started to appear in the area of training, e-learning, especially in IT and telecommunications companies..


Alexandra Cernian is lecturer at the Faculty of Automatic Control and Computers (University “Politehnica” of Bucharest) from 2007 and Trainer & Senior Consultant at Valoria. 

Alexandra holds a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering and has gained significant experience in teaching and research programs in different areas such as: Databases, Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering, Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Machine Learning. She participated as an expert in various national and international projects and coordinated consulting/advisory projects in e-learning and performance management  in important IT Companies.

As a trainer, she has more than 10 years experience with Romanian or Multinational B2B and B2C companies and she facilitates workshops in soft skills and functional IT training. She has worked with more than 50 companies where she delivered more than 350 training/workshop sessions.


Valoria Business Solutions is a company providing training, consulting and executive coaching services. The company's mission is to transform the potential of teams and organizations into value. Competence, confidence, innovation and passion are the values that sustain us in everything we do. We believe in people, in their aspiration for personal and professional fulfillment, and their willingness to accelerate their potential. 

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