Original post benefitsnews.com

What does a big, fancy word like “gamification” mean anyway? Simply put, it’s the idea that game-like rules and rewards make the hard stuff fun. And smart leaders now use it to engage and motivate their employees.

Well-known game designer Jane McGonigal says “living gamefully” helps people bring curiosity, passion and balance into their lives. It gives them a higher purpose so they keep moving forward in their mission even when obstacles block their vision.

Gamification is the reason fitness apps work. When the buzzer signals that you hit 10,000 steps, you win. Even performance reviews contain elements of game design – when your employees exceed all their goals and move to the next career level, you both win.

Let’s go for that big win. Help your employees achieve their goals and improve their health by introducing these gamification strategies.

3 gamification strategies to implement:

1. Wellness quests. As noted above, wearable technology makes tracking exercise so much easier. But gamification for health doesn’t require that level of sophistication — you can make a game out of almost anything when you keep score by pencil. Challenge your team members to sneak extra exercise into their day. Have them jot down a checkmark every time they take a stretch break. Heat up competition by posting results on a whiteboard for all to see. Add rules or creative complexities as time goes on and the activities become easier. The more quests employees complete, the healthier they’ll be.

2. Social communities. We all need a little help from our allies. We crave support from one another, and we’re willing to dig in deeper when we know others are rooting for us. So it’s no surprise that social interactions and competitions help employees stay motivated and happy. Hook your employees into healthy activities with team vs. team challenges, photos, comments, nudges and cheers. Recognize accomplishments in ways that best fit your company’s culture – whether that’s sending around leader-board rankings each week or letting peers nominate each other for special badges.

3. Power-ups. The journey to well-being is never over — but it’s nearly impossible to keep going if you don’t hit milestones. This is when you need to activate “power-ups” — the quick tasks that feel like small wins. Remember how satisfying those power-ups were in your video games of childhood? Encourage your employees to take baby steps toward their goals. For instance, they may not have time for a lunchtime workout, but can they sneak in a few jumping jacks before every meeting? How about simply standing up for two minutes? Or taking a mid-meeting plank break? Achievements like these provide a burst of feel-good energy and intrinsic motivation to help us stick with lofty commitments.