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Learning About Gamification to Improve our Lone Worker App Engagement

It is not always easy to have workers motivated or on-board for new initiatives in the workplace. Our Ok Alone app is introduced to lone workers as a way to help keep them safe. We wanted to engage our users by introducing an aspect of gamification into the lone worker system.

Research into Gamification

Researchers have found that ‘from a theoretical point of view gamification has the potential to foster motivation in different contexts’.¹ The study carried out by Sailer, Hence, Mandl and Klevers looked at different aspects of gamification, how they tapped into people’s psyche’s and how they could be used to increase motivation in the workplace.

Some of their findings, shown below, found that presenting challenges in different formats would motivate certain personality types.

Different Formats

‘Points are very basic game elements. Although, they seem to be very simple at a first glance, they can address motivational mechanisms mostly referring to a behaviourist learning perspective. The primary mechanisms are the following:
* Points function as immediate positive reinforcements
* Points can be seen as mostly virtual rewards, provided for executed actions

Badges are visual representations of achievements. Such badges systems can take different levels of complexity. Main motivational mechanisms addressed by badges are the following:
* Badges fulfil the players’ need for success and thereby address people with a
strong power motive
* Badges work as virtual status symbols and thereby address people with a
strong power motive
* Badges function as a form of group identification by communicating shared
experiences and activities and thereby address people with a strong
affiliation motive
* Badges also have a goal setting function
* Badges can foster the players’ feeling of competence

Leader boards provide information about a players’ success. Regarding motivation, this element can be seen critical, as only some people will stand on top of such leader boards, while most of the other players will end up — presumably demotivated — at the bottom. Nevertheless, leader boards can also address certain mechanisms and if designed as team-score displays, they could show some additional motivational effects.
* Individual leader boards foster competition and address achievement and
power motives
* For players at the top of leader boards, feelings of competence can arise
* Leader boards, which provide a team-score, can foster the team members
feelings of social relatedness, as they emphasise collaboration and community
activities provided by shared goals and opportunities for shared experiences

Progress bars and performance graphs each focus on individual players and their progress. While progress bars symbolize progression towards a goal, performance graphs furthermore compare the individual scores to previously achieved scores. The following mechanisms are activated:
* Both progress bars and performance graphs provide feedback
* Progress bars provide clear goals
* Performance graphs compare players’ performance to previous performances and thereby focus on improvement and foster a mastery orientation regarding goals are little tasks, which usually show a person the directly linked rewards.
This fosters the transparency of a possible success of the action. Thus following motivational mechanisms are primarily addressed:
* Quests provide clear goals
* Quests highlight resulting consequences of a goal
* Quests emphasize the importance of a players’ action within a giver situation ²

For a new initiative to engage as much of the workplace as possible, it would be best to have a system that offered many of the different types of motivation. Using a combination of these formats is more likely to appeal to the wider community of staff.

Safety Awards

Using what we learnt above, we incorporated badges, points and leader boards to create a new Safety Award program with the aim of engaging lone workers with their safety solution. Every month each worker’s Ok Alone activity is reviewed, and they are awarded a number of badges for features used and milestones reached. A score out of 100 is also awarded to each worker. This score takes into account a number of safety factors including missed check ins, location monitoring, shift starts and check in reminders. Workers are then able to compare their ranking in relation to other workers in their company, their country and around the world.

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Some extracts are taken from an article originally published at on June 12, 2020.

I blog and create content for Ok Alone to help people understand more about lone working and work alone related issues. Learn more at

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