Why Gen Z wants you to level up with employee gamification

Clock in, clock out. Your employees are great at tracking their time… right? Unfortunately, maybe not. Especially if they’re busy, rushed, forgetful, running late, or have other things on their mind. That’s where employee gamification comes in.

No, we’re not talking about dartboards in the breakroom. We’re talking about a simple, effective, and easy-to-implement way to help your staff stay organized, on time, and, yes, even happy. Here’s how to do gamification for employee engagement right. 

What is employee gamification?

Employee gamification turns mundane or missed tasks into something that staff actually want to do so they can be recognized or rewarded. It’s a shout-out for your team’s exceptional skills, an employee of the month award, a badge on a leaderboard, or even some extra time off.

Here’s why it matters. Employees of all ages and roles can find tasks like time tracking to be tedious, strict, and cumbersome. But for the employer, these types of tasks are an important part of running a successful business. Aside from knowing who’s currently on shift and who’s not working, it can help determine if you’re staffed too much or too little during certain times or days of the week. It also supports billing and payroll to track how much your team’s shifts.

But what about rewarding staff for the work they’re doing? How can you encourage employees to keep up the good work with more than a high five? That’s where employee gamification comes in. 

With a variety of ways to say “way to go!”, employee gamification creates an engaging environment. It makes for efficient and financially improved business models, and boosts productivity. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers. And the best part? It’s a fast, simple, low-cost implementation you can start right away.

Employee gamification trends and statistics that will have you pressing play

Employee gamification has been around for a while. Events like the Covid-19 pandemic helped push certain gamification updates onto center stage, offering new options to both employers and employees. When some employees shifted from in-person to online, business owners were presented with new ways to not just track hours and productivity, but to also use technology as a way to engage staff and reward them for their work—especially younger workers who already have their phones in hand. Some of these methods spread to in-person operations. Now, we have employee gamification for coffee shops, restaurants, and other industries that require staff to be on-site.

According to Deloitte, “Generation Z will soon surpass millennials as the most populous generation on earth.” That means that more than a third of the total world’s population considers themself to be a Gen Zer.

So, what does that mean for business? Well, it’s time to get with the times.

In the same study by Deloitte, it was reported that younger employees are looking for more in a workplace. They want career development, they prioritize financial security over things like career fulfillment, and Gen Zers prefer accomplishing individual tasks instead of team-based activities.

This is where employee gamification can shine.

When it goes beyond time tracking, business owners can start to reward staff and also engage them through competitions like “streaks” or by implementing and celebrating digital leaderboards.

And remember, employee gamification isn’t just for young workers.

In a 2019 study by TalentLMS, 88% of respondents said that gamification makes them happier at work. This number is significant, and  means that supporting all staff with the technology to work more efficiently can help employees stay organized and on top of their own schedules. Plus, it can even foster communication between workers and managers, and help to build healthy relationships. In short: it’s fun, effective, and can even save you money.

Employee gamification ideas for time tracking 

Gamifying time tracking is a fun way to encourage employees to manage their time more effectively. Also, it’s a great way to reward your staff: emphasis on reward.

According to the New York Times, “Eight of the 10 largest private U.S. employers track the productivity metrics of individual workers, many in real time.” If not done with consent or in a transparent and engaging way, this type of tracking can leave workers feeling watched and untrusted, rather than engaged and motivated. So: how do you use productivity metrics and time tracking for good instead of evil, and how do you put them to work for your teams?

Here are four employee gamification ideas that can help your staff succeed without hindering their work, or their work ethic.

1. Employee gamification and leaderboards

Leaderboards are essentially a list of people and results, and are intended to keep track of high scores. Scoring can look different depending on the workplace. Maybe it’s desserts added to meals, scoops served per hour, or most overtime recorded. Keeping it visual is important, so people can see who is winning at any given time. It also lets employees set goals for themselves and keep track of their progress. Not to mention, who doesn’t like a little friendly competition?

Leaderboards are ideal for social comparison and social reward, which is perfect for recognizing staff who have gone above and beyond in their work. 

2. Employee gamification and badges

Badges can take on any form, even digital. They can be awarded for a variety of reasons, but they usually consist of three main elements: an objective, an achieved accomplishment, and a corresponding reward.

In this framework, the objective outlines what’s expected of the employee, the accomplishment tracks what they’ve accomplished, and the reward is what they get for excelling in their role. For example, this could look like a badge for 10 call-outs by name in a Google review, a badge for sign-ups for an external loyalty program, or for a set number of store closes.

3. Employee gamification and training

Gamifying employee training involves bringing in game elements into training programs. And that’s great news for the 31% who feel bored and unproductive in regular training sessions.

Gamification can be anything from including online avatars or rewards for menu memorization all the way to understanding how to properly document your shifts and time worked. When you incorporate employee gamification ideas into training, the result is a more enjoyable and immersive training environment. Staff feel encouraged to engage more, and their learning outcomes are enhanced.  

However, if you incorporate gamification into your training or onboarding, ensure it’s well documented in your onboarding system so it’s easily referrable and digestible.

Employee gamification training tip: Make sure you’re delivering any learning materials in an entertaining yet educational way, and also in easily-digestible pieces. This helps staff stay engaged without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Employee gamification and goals

It’s easy to get caught up in shiny new things, like badges, trophies, and really neat avatars, but starting with a business goal is critical when it comes to employee gamification.

Ask yourself what you really want to achieve with implementing new technologies for your staff. Maybe you’ve noticed employees getting their coworkers to clock in for them and you’d like to boost morale (tip: using a GPS-gated time clock app like the Homebase time clock can avoid buddy punching). Maybe you’d like to improve punctuality by gamifying time tracking. Or, maybe you want a way for employees to feel recognized and rewarded for the extra effort they’re putting in to train new staff.

Whatever it is, you need a business goal with clear metrics of success before starting any employee gamification plan.

What’s important about gamification and time tracking?

Let’s get back to clocking in, a task that staff forget to complete, or if they do remember, do it incorrectly.

According to a study conducted by the American Society of Employers, around 20% of every dollar earned by companies in the United States is lost due to employee time theft. Think calling it “theft” seems extreme for a team member who times in 5 minutes late every shift? Trust us: it adds up.

To shed light on the subject, employee gamification for time tracking can be helpful, not to mention kind of fun. In fact, 89% of respondents in a gamification-at-work survey think that they’d be more productive if their work was more gamified.

By incorporating features like instant gratification (“A record streak of on-time clock ins! Way to go, Bailey!”) and tools that help you manage remote or field teams with mobile time clocks, built-in messaging, reminders, and alerts, your employees can feel like you’re doing them a favor versus keeping an eye on them. 

A quick guide to finding the right employee gamification platform

Your business goals are set, and Gen Zers on board. Now it’s time to find the right employee gamification platform. Before you begin your hunt, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Fits in with your objectives

Got a clearly defined objective for implementing a gamification platform with a specific goal in mind? Perfect. Now, you need to make sure that whatever you’re implementing can support that. The platform you’re using should be relevant to your goal, but also to the staff using it. For example, if your objective is to track time by department, you’ll want to ensure that the software your team is doing can be set up to track time and labor costs by hour, department, role, and more.

For a product that has multiple features—including time tracking, employee communication, and employee happiness—Homebase offers affordable solutions that help you grow your business, with a focus on hourly workers.

A solid user experience

The user experience of your employee gamification platform should be planned with your unique staff in mind. Make sure it’s visually appealing, easy to understand, and has simple instructions to follow.

Because efficiency and time go hand-in-hand, you’ll want your platform to be something that staff feel comfortable using, and also a tool that they want to engage with and enjoy interacting with whenever they need to. It needs to be something they want to engage with.

Making sure that your platform is personalized to each staff member is also important. This means that they should be able to have their own account and capabilities, like being able to clock in from their own personal device and see any communications that are going out to staff.

Clear communication

Effective and open communication is a big part of employee gamification. If you’re looking to promote collaboration and relationship building among employees, look for features that ensure your team has all the updates they need, whenever they need it.

That includes being able to automatically send helpful reminders for shifts, clock outs, and schedule updates. It’s also important to have the ability to easily add in any company reminders or events, like that Great American Bake Off your kitchen staff is cooking up. 

The result? You and your employees both feel good knowing documents are reviewed and signed. It provides a sense of accountability, and gives you peace of mind knowing that your staff are fully prepared. 

Lastly, communication also provides employees with feedback on their performance, and recognition for the work they’re putting in. Staff should be able to view regular updates on progress and milestones, while also being able to communicate with one another, letting them give shout outs for a job well done.

Or, in the case of Gen Zers, “Bruh, you crushed that.”

Employee gamification FAQ

What is employee gamification?

Employee gamification uses gaming elements, like points, badges, and leaderboards, to motivate and engage employees as they complete work tasks. This can include anything from onboarding to showing up on time. Employee gamification helps turn boring, repetitive or forgotten tasks into a game-like experience that employees can enjoy, and encourages them to strive for recognition and rewards. The goal of employee gamification is to increase employee motivation and productivity and to create a positive work environment.

How can companies gamify time tracking?

Don’t consider yourself a games person? That’s okay! There are lots of ways to gamify time tracking so your employees do it right, and stay on time. This can include using a points-based system where staff can earn points for each hour or tasks they complete. Staff can exchange points for rewards or recognition, like a gallery wall showcasing Bobbi’s record-speed latte art.

Leaderboards that show how much time each employee has tracked, how many on-time check-ins have been recorded, or how extra shifts covered are also great for motivating employees to keep up the good work.

Lastly, rewards and recognition are key for keeping employees engaged when it comes to time tracking. Sure, you might expect every staff member to simply show up on time, but even if they do, they might need that extra push to record it.

What are some benefits of employee gamification?

Employee gamification can offer a lot of perks. Depending on your business goals, use it to boost employee engagement and motivation, encourage collaboration, improve performance and productivity, and even build loyalty.

Employee gamification creates a positive work environment that rewards staff as they achieve their goals and contribute to the success of the business.

Why is gamification important for time tracking?

Employee gamification gives employees more autonomy to effectively manage their time. This makes work generally a lot more enjoyable and easy, especially when it has an emphasis on rewarding positive behavior. Remember to ensure that any tracking is done transparently and in a way that engages and motivates employees. It’s a little more transparent, a lot less Big Brother. 

Want to level up your time tracking with gamification? Try it for free with Homebase today.

Your staff will thank you—hopefully with a public shout out on the leaderboard.

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