Employers can learn a few lessons from Call of Duty, however unproductive its players may seem.
That's because the shoot 'em up game uses analytics in a way that encourages its fans to beat personal records, and build on the successes of their teammates. Industry is in need of a workplace stimulant. A majority of employees were not engaged in work in 2014, with Millennials making up the least engaged generation, according to Gallup.
Enter the gamification industry, which promises to re-energize office culture.
Even though the term still draws puzzled looks from employers who rely on old-school presentations to train employees, many are making the switch to the behavioral technology. Businesses have used the technology to train employees, gauge employee performance and diagnose areas for improvement within the system.
Whereas gamification companies catered mostly to consumers when the industry became popular around 2010--think fitness trainer Jillian Michael's--they are shifting to enterprise customers, says Steve Sims, Chief Design Officer of Badgeville. Gamification companies have created apps that integrate with management systems like Salesforce, creating platforms where employees can measure their performance against their peers.
"It's something every company needs to be looking at," says Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify. "Using gamification is an excellent way to train the modern learner, and you don't need to push the learning on the person."
In the industry's early days, business owners believed gamification was the "panacea for everything," says Sims. Despite the novelty of gamification, many applications were poorly designed, and neglected workplace dynamics such as balancing competition and collaboration, according to a 2012 report from the research company Gartner.
The improvement of data analytics has reinvigorated the industry. Gamification makes employee performance data accessible to managers and employees, instead of primarily coming from the top down, says Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball and author of Loyalty 3.0. Paharia says this "performance enhancing data" is a source of internal motivation for employees, similar to how fitness bands work.
Startups are finding their niche in the gamification industry. One budding enterprise is Ambition, which markets sales productivity software based on a fantasy football-style performance evaluation system. The Y Combinator-backed startup is growing 30 percent monthly, and has expanded to about 100 customers since launching in 2013, says Ambition CEO Travis Truett.
Truett says as Millennials take over the workplace, employers need to be aware that the generation has different needs and desires than its predecessors.
"Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the digital age ... whereas previously every generation was analogue," Truett says. "Why gamification is so important is Millennials, when packed in properly, are incredibly productive."