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Your multi-generational workforce may have vastly different and even opposing needs and values. But gamification is a force for engaging and unifying them for success.

Just when you were getting the hang of managing Millennials, the first Gen Alphas (born 2000 – 2015) are skilling up to enter the business fray. And they’re very nearly ripe to descend and rock your management world (again) with their own special perspectives, demands and expectations.

The 5 generation workforce you’ve been managing for a decade or so is about to get even more interesting. Imagine 6 generations standing shoulder to shoulder at the coal face of your business. There are many real and perceived challenges to that scenario, but are there not benefits to such diversity of life experiences, expertise and personal perspectives? And are generational differences really as vast as they’re made out to be? I don’t fit very comfortably in my generational box. Do you?

Human needs, human nature

A recent IT industry survey shows that across generations (a 40-year spread in this case), employees have quite a lot in common on issues that matter: 65% are looking for financial security, 51% want to feel passionate about their work, and 49% want to achieve work- life balance.

Not to diminish the complexity of contemporary human resource challenges, but it seems useful to shift focus from analysing generational differences to leveraging the basic human instincts that unite your workforce. That’s the premise of gamification.

Engage, motivate, unite with gamification

Gamification is the application of elements used in game design (components, mechanics and dynamics) to non-game or real world activities. Done right, adding a little gamification to the workday offers a chance for better engagement. Something you’ll see in most gamified organisations; routine daily tasks turned into engaging experiences.

At its core, gamification is a business solution that works by appealing to intrinsic human needs. Like the need for autonomy, the need to achieve and find purpose, and the need to learn and grow. So even though gamification is rooted in technological innovation, it actually taps into human nature to motivate participation and satisfy needs, which in turn changes behaviour.

There is no age limit on intrinsic human need. According to Scott Buchanan of Nice, ‘gamifying a workday increases commitment, motivates through competition and inspires collaboration’. That goes for the traditionalists who sit on the board, to creative youngsters who’re working from home. Everyone gets a little kick from earning points and badges and there’s nothing like a progress bar to nudge performance and hit the top of the leaderboard. And those are the most basic game mechanics. A full gamification solution is a lot more strategic in applying an array of mechanics and techniques to increase engagement and encourage performance.

Generation Y and Generation Z

You could say that gamification was built for the digital natives we call Millennials and Gen Z. Managers have been struggling with this disengaged group for some time now and gamified work experiences offer the constant stimulation and flexibility that they so greatly desire.

Known to be smart and creative, they, unfortunately, have short attention spans. So turning their work into technologically driven moments which are visually rich and interactive, is appealing.
The key is to keep things innovative and challenging, particularly when it comes to repetitive tasks. Gamification creates a sense of challenge and progression and generally livens up the task at hand.

We know this strategy works for employees in their 20s and 30s because they’ve grown up with tech and expect nothing less than engagement and instant gratification at work. It also gives them tools for personal growth and professional development. Which are important factors for both Gen Y and Gen Z.

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1981, this group is all tied up in professional development. So any tool that helps them progress is going to be seen as a plus.

Because they grew up amidst incredible technological advancements, they’re not averse to plugging into the typically interactive work experiences that gamification generates. Especially if it relates to career pathing towards management positions, achieving other professional goals and the recognition of their wins.

Give them a way to get what they need to succeed and something that satisfies their competitive appetite and you’ll not only see increased productivity, but you’ll find you have a happy cluster of 40-somethings in your office. All feeling productive and hyper-connected to younger generations (who in turn will be ready to be led by progressive managers).

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964,  Baby Boomers generally hold management positions (and struggle the most to engage Gen Y and Z). They’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where they are and so, in most cases, work defines their sense of self.

Known to embrace performance motivation tools that deliver on ROI and productivity, Baby Boomers respect the carefully-crafted, strategic aspect of gamification. Which is seen as a cost-effective way to ‘rally the Millennial troops’.

And because gamification taps into psychological cues that push our day-to-day decisions, it also speaks to their naturally motivated and competitive sensibilities.

Gamification for all

Yes, you have multiple generations under your organisation’s roof. All with vastly different (and sometimes opposing) needs and values.

You could have a workaholic Baby Boomer who calls the office home. A team of Millennials that feel most productive working remotely. A Generation X guy who is having a hard time progressing in the fast-changing professional landscape. And an incredibly innovative Gen Z who battles to stay focused on administrative tasks, but laps up anything in the tech realm. And those Alphas will be on your doorstep soon.

But not to worry. Whether born in 1974 or 2000, the human desire for success, learning opportunities, recognition, remuneration, and reward is ever-present. And at its heart, gamification speaks to those human needs.

How are you motivating the different generations in your workforce? Get in touch and let’s talk about it.