Employee Engagement Through Gamification

Over a year in to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working from home than ever before. Remote work was far from the norm before the pandemic—about 4.7 million U.S. employees, or about 17% of the workforce, worked from home full-time (more than five days a week). By spring of 2021, however, that number had increased to 44%. As experts at McKinsey wrote: “The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place.” 

When the world ground to a halt seemingly overnight, contact center leaders had to rethink and retool old ways of doing business to maintain order for customers and continue driving toward organizational goals. As they did, gamification increased in importance as a critical way of ensuring agent productivity and engagement while accommodating a new way of working that helps keeps employees safe and healthy. 

A Different Way of Working 

As in many other industries, contact center employees had to make an abrupt transition to working from home and faced daily roadblocks and distractions such as children, pets, other family members and daily chores. Pre-COVID, agents had been able to gather in the office and easily ask a supervisor a question or catch up with a colleague over coffee, but now every conversation had to be via scheduled meeting, and the remote water cooler was nowhere to be found. 

And as the screen time increased, so too did disengagement, with employees reporting feeling disengaged from their work, disconnected from their peers and detached from their organization’s goals and vision. One in five people who worked remotely in 2020 struggled with loneliness, according to a report by Buffer. Today, just 15% of employees feel connected to their workplace, according to Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace

When employees are less engaged, productivity takes a hit. Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies more than half a trillion dollars every year, making distracted workers a huge liability for companies of all sizes. 

So how do companies keep employees engaged and productive while working from home? Gamification is one piece of the puzzle. 

What is Gamification? 

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. For example, gamification is at work every time you wear a smart watch or activity tracker that gathers points and doles out rewards when a goal is met. The satisfaction from meeting goals allows companies to further motivate users and increase job satisfaction and retention. 

As companies struggle to engage remote and hybrid workers, the use of gamification is increasing across industries. When implemented successfully, gamification for employees can generate impactful results across an organization and drive employee satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, a recent study from TalentLMS found that 89% of remote workers think they would be more productive at work if it were more game-like, and 88% say that gamification makes them happier while at work. 

How Contact Centers Leverage Gamification 

In the contact center, gamification involves using activities and processes with game elements, such as quizzes, levels and progress trackers, team contests, points and rewards marketplaces, to solve problems or increase agent skillsets. Gamification drives agent productivity in four main ways: 


Interactive activities are broken down into levels that address specific key performance indicators (KPIs) and keep employees concentrated and task-driven. Gamified elements are typically split into smaller objectives that feel achievable—an important element in coaching given that many agents now face distractions in their work environments. Agents earn badges or rewards as tasks are completed, and these incremental rewards and improvements in day-to-day work can help employees feel that they are mastering key skills. 


With new agents being onboarded remotely every day and continuous education important for new and experienced agents alike, it can be a struggle to ensure that they are learning the most crucial skills for their positions. Game elements like targeted trivia sessions can complement coaching sessions to ensure that the material was understood. The sessions can be designed in a way that allows managers and supervisors to target the areas employees need to focus on most.


When agents reach an objective or answer trivia questions correctly, they earn points that can be used to make purchases in a rewards marketplace. The more they participate in gamified training, the more points they earn to purchase fun perks. Supervisors are also able track improvements toward targeted KPIs along the way. In addition to the marketplace, contact centers can use leaderboards and badges to motivate agents to improve, meet targets and stand out within their team. 


Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization. When employees feel engaged, they care more about the company, and they strive to achieve the company's goals. For example, 87% of respondents in the TalentLMS study said game elements make them feel more socially connected with colleagues. Completing work while having fun provides positive reinforcement while helping agents set aside distractions, increase focus and fully engage in their work. 

Each of these benefits contributes to more active and committed agents and adds substantial value to a contact center’s bottom line, especially now that more agents are being onboarded remotely or are working from home. A focused and determined agent can contribute as much as $9,880 in additional value annually over a less productive, less engaged agent. When combined with an average industry turnover of 40%, a lack of productivity and engagement can have a significant impact: In a contact center with 2,000 agents, for example, reduced engagement and productivity could cost as much as $3.2 million each year. 

Everybody Wins with Gamification 

Some of the changes that have unfolded at contact centers over the last 18 months aren’t going away anytime soon. The workplace of the past is gone—more than 30% of employees are unlikely to return to in-person work, a survey from LiveCareer found. 

Investing in the necessary infrastructure to support remote employees and adding employee engagement tools such as gamification can help companies retain and engage employees, achieve higher levels of productivity and empower remote agents to engage with work in entertaining and rewarding ways. The benefits of gamification aren’t limited to work-from-home models, though—gamification delivers significant value for in-office and hybrid models as well. 

Find out more about how to get started with gamification using NICE Performance Management and NICE workforce optimization solutions.