Skip to Content
3 colleagues gathered around a laptop for a collaborative Trailhead trail gamification
Salesforce Learning

3 Ways Gamification Keeps Us Engaged and Motivated

If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, it’s difficult to stay engaged. In fact, 83% of employees who undergo gamified training are more motivated at work.

All work and no play can make work … somewhat dull. We know that’s not the most delicate way to put it (or even how the saying goes), but it’s still true. To up the fun, you need gamification. Between fitness apps, loyalty programs, and social media we’ve come to love gamified experiences. And now it’s time to bring them to work. 

Gamification platforms use elements and principles of game playing – such as scoring points, competing with others, following rules, and receiving recognition. Gamification, according to Gabe Zichermann, coauthor of “Gamification by Design”, “is 75% psychology and 25% technology,” and plays on (pardon the pun) the impulses that drive us to compete, outdo, and improve.

These same principles can be applied in a non-gaming context – such as work.

Gamification can increase company productivity by up to 50% and employee engagement by 60%, and 72% of people believe that gamification inspires them to work harder.

Because gamified platforms tap into these motivations, we’re more likely to become and stay engaged. In fact, studies indicate that 83% of employees who undergo gamified training are more motivated at work.

Gamification = Fun = Engagement = Productivity

Gamification is fun and keeps us engaged, but can it really make us more productive? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Gamification can increase company productivity by up to 50% and employee engagement by 60%, and 72% of people believe that gamification inspires them to work harder. 

Gamification is one of the top 10 must-haves in any learning experience. Making content fun and engaging is the first step to improving business outcomes. You have to move minds before you can change behaviors.

Making content fun and engaging is the first step to improving business outcomes. You have to move minds before you can change behaviors.

So, long story short: Gamification is effective. But Salesforce has known this for quite some time. Enter Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform which incorporates learning, competition, and fun into every module. It even has quizzes and real-world hands-on challenges.

With Trailhead, learners gain new skills and business knowledge, earn points and badges, and work their way up through the Trailhead ranks – participating in a bit of healthy competition along the way. See Trailhead in action.

Trailhead empowers everyone, everywhere to learn in-demand skills, earn globally recognized credentials, and connect with the ever-growing Trailblazer Community.

Trailhead is a great example of gamification and it has been a… game changer. Millions of people around the world and from all types of backgrounds love learning on Trailhead, and they’re almost as eager to earn their points and badges as they are to pick up resume-worthy skills.

Feedback, especially constructive feedback, is an important part of learning. It helps make the concepts sticky.

All effective gamified platforms have a few things in common that keep us coming back for more. These are the three ways that gamification keeps us all engaged:

1. Real-time feedback helps solve the performance puzzle

In the workplace, receiving immediate rewards for a job well done is very valuable. Employees need confirmation that the work they’re doing matters. And they want to know how they’re doing and what skills and knowledge they should focus on now.

Feedback, especially constructive feedback, is an important part of learning. It helps make the concepts sticky.

Unfortunately, some employees have no sense of how they’re performing against goals until their reviews. And by the time they reach their scheduled reviews, their goals might be irrelevant. That’s the beauty of gamified platforms. Employees work toward meaningful and measurable goals (points, badges, levels, leaderboards, etc.) and receive real-time rewards for accomplishing them.

Even the smallest of rewards we receive for our efforts push us to do better, if not our best, work. Trailhead brings real-time feedback to life as learners take multiple-choice unit quizzes or complete hands-on challenges in a practice Salesforce org (affectionately known as a Trailhead Playground). Upon completion, learners instantly earn points and badges as confetti falls on the screen (yes, really).

2. Transparency levels the playing field

Employees not only want to find out how they’re performing in real-time, but they also want to know exactly how they stack up against their peers, and who is being rewarded and how. If employees suspect that performance discussions are happening behind a manager’s closed doors, feel like their successes aren’t being acknowledged, or fear that their peers are receiving preferential treatment, they’re less motivated to do their best work.

Favoritism is never fun. And it puts a real damper on engagement. By providing features such as leaderboards and personal profiles that showcase a participant’s accomplishments and rewards (we’re looking at you again with the Trailblazer.me profile, Trailhead), gamified platforms let everyone see exactly where they stand and what they need to do or learn to receive kudos. It creates a level of healthy competition that prompts employees to improve their performance.

The iconic black Trailblazer hoodie is now the work uniform of choice. It’s a badge of honor, saying, ‘I’m committed to continuous learning and improvement.’

Healthy competition drives better engagement. At Salesforce, our internal Ranger Recognition program gives employees swag as they reach Ranger level and above. The iconic black Trailblazer hoodie is now the work uniform of choice. It’s a badge of honor, saying, “I’m committed to continuous learning and improvement.”

In fact, the monthly number of Salesforce employees completing the internal Trailhead Ranger program tripled between 2019 and 2021. More than 21,000 employees have reached this highest rank to date.

This transparency benefits managers, too. Many of them have direct reports in remote offices and, as a result, don’t see their work habits on a daily basis. With gamified platforms, managers (and their expectations) aren’t out of sight, out of mind – they have an excellent way to track accomplishment and reward employees. Their digital presence is a constant reminder to reports that no matter where they work, that work is worthwhile.

The culture of sharing that often accompanies these platforms (think #TrailblazerTuesdays, #TrailheadTaughtMe, #SalesforceSaturday) further bolsters this transparency, as employees are encouraged to get advice from peers and celebrate their newly earned badges.

3. Familiar, fun experiences drive consumption

In reality, several generations working today have grown up gaming. So, incorporating this gamification into the workplace is a natural progression. Gamification, like social media, is familiar and intuitive to a considerably connected workforce. Applying gamification to their work, including learning and skill-building, can go a long way to driving consumption of content that can help them succeed.

Now more than ever, people need access to reskilling and career communities – regardless of where they live and what their background may be. Businesses face a massive gap between the demand for digital skills and the supply of workers who possess them. Employees must learn new skills, obtain business knowledge, and adapt to meet customer needs at breakneck speeds.

There’s been more than a 180% increase in monthly Trailhead badge completions between 2019 and 2021, topping out at over 325,000 badges earned in a single month.

Gamified platforms create an environment of constant learning, which fosters transformation and allows employees to get – and stay – up to speed on ever-changing technology and products. On Trailhead we publish new and updated content regularly, including with every Salesforce product release, so learners never worry that they’re spending valuable time engaging with outdated information.

In fact, there’s been more than a 180% increase in monthly Trailhead badge completions between 2019 and 2021, topping out at over 325,000 badges earned in a single month.

4. Incentivize with challenges and prizes to up motivation

There are a variety of quests –  including revolving monthly sweepstakes and specialized challenges based on specific learning paths or topics –  that help you stay motivated and get the most out of your learning journey.

While we believe learning is its own reward, there’s always room for a little more incentive. That’s why Trailhead has upped the game with Trailhead Quests, which combines the challenge of gaining new skills with the chance of winning some prizes such as community badges, gift cards, Salesforce Certification vouchers, and more. 

Embarking on a Trailhead Quest is easy. What might be a little more challenging is choosing exactly which quest to tackle.

  1. Choose a quest. Quests challenge different skills –  there’s a quest for everyone, from beginners to experts. These quests take the form of trailmixes, which are curated sets of trails, modules, hands-on projects, and superbadges.
  2. Complete the challenge. Each quest runs for a limited period of time and has specific tasks for learners to carry out.
  3. Get a chance to win*. Once you complete a quest (and if you’re eligible), you’ll be entered for a chance to win cool prizes.

* Rules and entry requirements for quests can vary each month. Review the official rules for specific quests at trailhead.salesforce.com/quests.

Related Stories

A zoomed in photo of a Trailblazer showing the Salesforce Certified logo on their t-shirt

5 Powerful Benefits of Getting Salesforce-Certified

Earning a Salesforce certification proves to you, recruiters, employers, and the world at large that you’ve got skills! Whatever role you serve in your organization — administrator, architect, developer, marketer, or consultant — we’ve got a certification that can give your career a boost.

Illustration of person sitting at a computer and desk

What Is MuleSoft?

Learn more about the Salesforce technology company that connects business systems like applications, data, and devices with APIs. See how it can help your company digitally transform.

Astro

Get the latest stories from The 360 Blog, every week.

Get the latest stories from The 360 Blog, every week.

Enter a valid e-mail address
Select your Country
Select a state
Please read and agree to the Master Subscription Agreement

Yes, I would like to receive the Salesforce Weekly Brief as well as marketing communications regarding Salesforce products, services, and events. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Salesforce values your privacy. To learn more, visit our Privacy Statement.