Exploring employee’s perspectives on gamifying sustainable behavior at work
Promoting sustainable employee behavior is crucial for companies in light of increasing societal pressure towards sustainability. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular rely on employee engagement to improve their sustainability performance, as they lack the financial resources for sustainability measures. Consequently, there is a great need for effective incentive mechanisms that engage employees in sustainability efforts, and gamification represents one of the most promising developments in terms of influencing motivation and behavior towards sustainability.
Gamification is generally considered as the use of game elements in non-game contexts with the aim of generating experiences similar to those in games (e.g., fun, satisfaction, motivation) and influencing behavior. Existing studies show that gamification in an organizational context can motivate employees to engage in sustainable behaviors. However, the design features that are crucial for the acceptance and sustained use of such systems from the employees’ perspective remain poorly understood.
In their study Designing Gamification for Sustainable Employee Behavior: Insights on Employee Motivations, Design Features and Gamification Elements, Jeanine Krath, Benedikt Morschheuser and Harald F.O. von Korflesch address this gap and explore employees’ motivations for sustainable behavior and expectations for design features through in-depth interviews with 27 employees from different SMEs.
In particular, the qualitative exploration yielded three interesting findings about the design of gamification for workplace sustainability, especially with respect to the needs of different groups of employees.
Individualistic orientation: Many employees tend to be egoistically motivated, i.e. they cite the future of their own children and social pressures as motivating factors, and are therefore not inherently motivated to work towards greater sustainability in the workplace. This suggests the design of appropriate narratives, such as “save your children’s future” and individualistically oriented design features. In fact, many employees expected utilitarian (e.g., intelligent support and performance monitoring), hedonic (e.g., ludified goals and playful learning), and social (e.g., social comparison and competition) design features primarily to help them achieve personal sustainability goals.
Informational support: Another group of employees is already deeply concerned with the impact of their current behavior on future human generations (humanistic motivation) and the health of the ecosystem (biospheric motivation). For this target group, gamification designers should prioritize informational design features that help these employees act (even) more sustainably by offering personalized recommendations, informational cues, and idea-sharing features.
Seamless integration: Finally, employees emphasized that gamification in the workplace should also integrate seamlessly into existing workflows, with as little interference as possible with main work tasks. Embedding gamification and sustainability goals into existing solutions and processes could therefore be beneficial compared to more monolithic gamification approaches.
This paper has been accepted at the 55th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2022).
, , . Designing Gamification for Sustainable Employee Behavior: Insights on Employee Motivations, Design Features and Gamification Elements. In Proceedings of the 55th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2022) (Online, 4th January 2022 – 7th January 2022).
Abstract: Encouraging sustainable employee behavior is critical for companies in the face of increasing societal pressure towards sustainability. While gamification has been shown to influence employee behavior effectively, current attempts to design gamification for sustainability in the workplace largely neglect the importance of understanding personal factors and contextual characteristics. This work explores employees’ motivations for sustainable behavior and expectations for design features through in-depth interviews with 27 employees from different SMEs. Our results show that many employees tend to be egoistically motivated, suggesting the design of appropriate narratives and individualistic-oriented design features. Employees expected utilitarian, hedonistic, and social design features that primarily serve to support them in achieving personal sustainability goals while highlighting that gamification at work should also integrate seamlessly with existing work routines. We contribute to gamification design research by discussing the particularities of the workplace sustainability context and shedding new light on involving users in gamification design.