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Gamification – The motivation makes the game!

Gamification for employee health promotion

Playing is just for kids? Not at all. In Germany, around 34.4 million people play video games. In this article, you can find out how you can use gamification mechanics to live healthier, protect the climate and do good.

“First one to the playground wins!” or, “Don’t step on a line until you get home, it’s good luck!” Can you still remember that? Maybe it was a long time ago, but we all know the feelings that such playful challenges triggered: the excitement, the willingness to give it your all, the great feeling when you’ve done it and the happiness when there’s also a reward.

This power of playful competition is harnessed when gamification is used.

Wikipedia explains the term like this:

“Gamification (from the English game for “game”) […] is the application of game-typical elements in a non-game context. These game-typical elements include experience points, high scores, progress bars, ranking lists, virtual goods or awards. The integration of these game-like elements is essentially intended to increase the motivation of people who otherwise have to perform tasks that are not very challenging, are perceived as too monotonous, or are too complex. First data analyses of gamified applications show partly significant improvements in areas such as user motivation, learning success, customer retention, ROI or data quality. In healthcare applications, the goal is to change user behavior in addition to increasing motivation.”


The benefit in the company

A classic use of gamification to motivate more exercise is the pedometer app. The view of the growing number motivates us to do a little extra lap to reach our own goal. If we can compare ourselves to others, it spurs us on even more. And then there’s the deeply satisfying feeling when the “score noise” announces personal success. Done! With a clear conscience, you can now reward yourself with a cosy evening.

This successful method is being used by more and more companies to motivate employees. Whether it’s about transformation, social responsibility, safety measures or workplace health promotion – gamification helps to motivate employees to change their behavior, and to do so in the long term.

Gamification can be used in digital applications, but also practically on site. “Nudging” includes entertaining prompts to try something different. For example, a funny saying and signposting footprints on the floor that lead past the elevator to the stairwell.

In his article “Are you still working or are you already playing?”, Arne Gels, CEO of RETENCON AG and managing director of Benefiteria GmbH, looks at the possibilities of gamification in the work context. He cites our Changers app as a good example of how gamification can be used in digital form to motivate employees:

“A great example here for me is the “Changers” platform that companies like Lidl, EY, Pfizer, etc. use. The goal is to anchor corporate social responsibility in the behavior of employees. With “Changers”, every employee measures their personal CO2 balance, primarily via their own movement profile. Users collect minus points for car journeys and flights, while cycling, walking and using public transport count as plus points on their own balance sheet. As a company, I can also implement measures that improve the plus points balance. Measures, for example, which increase the company values such as compliance training, sustainability tips, team building.”


Not yet mentioned here is that not only companies benefit from the gamification principle at Changers, for example in their company health management, but also cities and regions that want to motivate their citizens for municipal climate protection.

Five elements for a successful game design

The expert for corporate culture, learning & development and transformation names the five essential game mechanics as:

  1. Challenge,
  2. Ambition,
  3. Self-realization,
  4. Curiosity and
  5. Feedback/Reward.

The Changers Gamification elements at a glance

Just as a game consists of various mechanisms, we also use a whole package of gamification elements for the Changers app, which, when combined, enhance their effect:

  1. The climate-friendly kilometres travelled are automatically counted and converted into bonus points. The participants feel encouraged to save as much CO2 as possible in order to collect as many coins as possible.
  2. Measures and activities, which can be arranged by you again and again, keep the curiosity awake and promote the desire to try things out.
  3. The goals achieved together are shown in regular updates, results that you want to surpass every day.
  4. The ambition is fueled by playful competitions that are held in teams and groups – for example, departments or districts. Of course, there is also a virtual trophy to win.
  5. There is also a dedicated social community. Good feedback is a coveted reward – the social control provides additional motivation.
  6. There are also rewards for all participants who invite their friends to the app. Of course, this also grows the social community, which gives positive feedback.
  7. Doing good is also fun. The CO2 saved is turned into tree planting. And bonus points can be exchanged for donations to a social project. Incentive and reward at the same time.
  8. And there’s a rewards marketplace. Just browsing through the possible prizes for the collected points is fun, and of course trading them in is even more so.
  9. The exchange principle also works in real life. Participants of the city app can use their bonus points to ride the tram, pay for public pool admission or buy a cup of coffee, for example. Such a tangible benefit feels good.
  10. Another playful principle that has been proven to successfully achieve good habits is the so-called nudging. This implements the principle of self-actualization in a simple and playful way. From a variety of options, such as drinking enough or abstaining from meat, you choose yourself what and when the app should remind you in a friendly way. And little by little, the activity becomes a natural part of everyday life.

But what makes the Changers app so special is that the rewards are not limited to the personally earned rewards and badges won. Anyone who uses the app automatically creates real added value for themselves, the company or the community. And what is more motivating than making the world a little bit better with every step!

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