Dayle Bayliss, owner of Dayle Bayliss Associates LLP, construction consultants, looks into the nation’s obsession with gaming and how it can be applied to business.
Bill Gates once said: “Business is a game with few rules and a lot of risk.”
And he was right.
But you can forget learning the ropes by purchasing Park Lane, building hotels in Mayfair and borrowing from the bank on a Monopoly board.
The modern workplace can be taught far more in the virtual world of Candy Crush and Minecraft.
I’m not the only one who thinks so either.
Teaching business through gaming
Around 200 UK educational institutions – and 3,000 worldwide – are actively encouraging kids to play points-driven games like Minecraft.
Many teachers believe they give students practicable life lessons, unlock creative streaks and help hone skills which will see the players more likely to succeed in business in the future.
But just as the entrepreneurs and industry leaders of the future can learn about commerce from playing a games console, so too can existing businesses learn from the narrative that exists in the virtual world.
You see, one thing that is seriously lacking in the workplace is engagement.
Getting engagement right
A recent survey of more than 7,000 employees across 20 countries suggested that UK workers have some of the lowest engagement with their jobs in the world.
And this is a major problem.
After all, engaged employees are better producers, they are more committed to the organisation they work for and they are in it for the long haul.
Conversely, what happens when you have disillusioned, unmotivated or bored staff members is that productivity decreases and with it, so does the turnover, profits and the reputation of your business.
So what could gaming teach employers about how to reconnect with their staff?
Inspire, collaborate and reward
In the gaming world, people are rarely disengaged. Quite the opposite.
They become utterly immersed in the virtual world, many putting more effort into playing than they put into their jobs.
But why, when they’re playing, are they content to work so hard for so long without pay?
Well studies suggest games make us focus on outcomes.
They make us proud of our accomplishments, excited by our successes and more likely to find innovative solutions to obstacles.
The inspiration for all this is in the rewards.
This could be accruing points or moving to the next level of the game.
But in the workplace this could translate into wage increases or moves up the career ladder.
Gamers also like to share their achievements with others – often through social media or online forums.
More and more working cultures are seeing the benefits of such collaboration – often using virtual workspaces and removing the rigidity of normal office hours.
Integrating work and play
Research suggests many companies are already taking the influence of gamification on business seriously.
In fact the tendrils extend into the workplace of some organisations even before a prospective employee arrives.
Major firms like Twitter actually use games in their recruitment process asking candidates to complete a series of programming challenges and competitions to test their skills and speed of response.
Some gaming organisations are also seeing ways to make the link between work and play.
New social media platform bitlanders uses gaming features and pays users to use the network, encouraging engagement and content sharing.
And another – BuzzScore – measures your reach, influence and your ability to engage your users with your content – a system which will be very useful in businesses where customer interaction is paramount.
Now I’m not suggesting you offer your staff regular X-box breaks during the working day.
But I do think the manner in which people play games can teach us a lot about how to run a successful business.
The mechanisms of the human mind are not so complex really.
We are motivated by rewards, we are driven by challenges and we stay loyal and dedicated when we feel appreciated and proud of our progress.
So yes, it may sound counter-productive to introduce more play into your work life but, tailored to meet the needs of the business it can work wonders for engagement and therefore productivity.
For more information about Dayle’s business visit www.daylebayliss.co.uk