Why Melding Work and Play Is Great for Business

You're in a back office conference room with harsh yellow lighting that amplifies the nervous sweat on your brow. After taking a seat at the desk in front of you, you notice that you've never actually seen or spoken to the woman and man seated across from you. Soon, they'll make overarching conclusions regarding your work and hold a crucial grip on the future of your career. So you nervously sit back and brace yourself as they delve into the dreaded, annual performance review.

Whether it concerns a potential promotion, raise, or general review - at some point in time, we have all fretted over management perception of performance. Truth be told, it's probably why I decided to start Icreon as a software development firm; there was no pressure of having a boss anymore.

All joking aside, we desire more perspective regarding our progress and expertise. Luckily, as with many aspects of our daily lives, new technology is set to augment this common aspect of the modern workplace and remove some of the widely felt anxieties from the process.

Real Time Performance Reviews at Your Convenience

The concept of gamification, or "the use of game mechanics and psychology to drive a set of specified desired behaviors" as defined by the American Productivity and Quality Center, has existed for years. Sweepstakes on food packaging, employee of the month awards, and honorary medals in the armed forces are all examples of gamification. What has been lacking however, is the widespread implementation of gamification within enterprises to drive productivity. However according to analysts, we may not be too far from broad implementation.

By harnessing inherent competitive natures, gamification can result in the betterment of individual employees and the organization itself. Today, major strides in gamification are coming via website and mobile app design and development as opposed to the more analog ways of past. Through mass participation and quantitative assessments of productivity, gamification can breathe fresh life into archaic review and assessment processes.

Transparency Leads to Engagement

Ideally gamified applications empower employees via transparent access to performance data and management expectations. At the moment however, the industry is still in a highly exploratory phase. Similar to any trend or buzzword in the technology industry, there is a necessary amount of time needed for maturation and innovation (see: "cloud computing", "responsive web design"). The same goes for implementing gamification strategies within an enterprise. According to Gartner, "by 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations."

While ubiquity is still several years away, there are early-movers who have legitimized the value of such strategies:


Motivated the social ethos of their brand, Spotify introduced a new take on the annual performance review for the social media age. Rather than wait a full year for assessments, Spotify introduced gamification elements for social performance management of projects via badges, a custom social network, and other means of recognition.

Through an organizational newsfeed, employees could share project updates as well as additional important milestones. Management could provide consistent feedback through the Spotify employee social network. The implementation led to a 90% adoption rate via their mobile and web platforms.


Dubbed a mobile worker productivity platform, Springshot is making strides in gamified software applications specified for the services space, (software as a service for the service industry, so to speak). Their platform aims to increase engagement and instill a team mentality to companies where large portions of productivity come in the form of isolated work.

Equipped with custom social networks and leaderboards, companies using Springshot's software can have their employees assess their standing in a quantitative fashion. By tracking units completed (ie. cleaning airplane cabins, movie theaters, rental cars, etc.) and other pertinent metrics, employees and management can have a clear understanding of progress and performance on a day-by-day basis.

Various nuances such as industry, employee hierarchy, and management style contribute to a need for specified approaches to gamification strategies. Above all else, the success of the above examples come in their ability to serve equal benefit to employee and management alike by incorporating users into the once one-sided assessment process.

Less Big Brother, More Employee Liberation

A major challenge centers on offering equal value to those monitoring work through the app and employees on the receiving end of gamified mobile or web applications. The last thing employees want in a gamified software implementation is as another means for management to peer over their shoulder. Instead it should empower employees to assess their own performance and identify where to improve on a proactive basis, accompanied with relevant rewards and recognition for 'above and beyond' performance.