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Can Gamification Improve Warehousing Operations?

Explore what gamification is and how it can boost employee engagement and motivation to improve warehousing operations

Can you imagine a world where employees become more engaged and productive AT work by playing games IN the workplace? That world is here.

Picture this: Warehouse workers pick products from racking systems and place them onto automated conveyor belts or in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) bins. Each time a worker completes the action, a digital scoreboard records their score which earns them points. These points can then be used as digital currency that can be redeemed for prizes like extra vacation days, longer lunches, or even physical items.  

It is well known that disengaged employees contribute to mistakes and lower output. By implementing gamification, fulfillment centers can prevent employees from “zoning out” on the job and improve overall efficiency simultaneously.

In this blog we will explore what gamification is and examine its potential to improve warehousing operations by assessing its impact on employee motivation, productivity, safety, and training.

Datex Fast Fact

In 2020, the global gamification market was valued at $10.19 million. It is expected to reach $38.42 million by 2026.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is a work and training strategy that promotes specific objectives. Employees are rewarded or reinforced each time they perform a desired task or achieve a target score. Gamification incorporates features like leaderboards, incentive schemes, personal and group acknowledgements, and employee input to increase motivation and engagement. As a result of increased motivation and engagement, employees increase their productivity.

Applied to warehousing logistics, gamification consists of developing, implementing, and supporting operations that increase throughput using gaming techniques.

Gamification’s Impact on Warehousing Operations

Warehousing operations have historically been characterized by manual labor, repetitive tasks, and long hours. These factors often lead to worker fatigue, errors, and inefficiencies. While technology has played a crucial role in driving improvements in these areas, gamification has emerged as a unique and effective tool. Why is gamification in warehousing so useful? It collects data while engaging workers, making basic repetitive tasks less tiresome to complete. This data is valuable. It provides insight into how warehousing processes can be made more efficient, productive, and effective. The data can also be used to allocate resources more effectively and ensure adherence to industry best practices.

By tracking and rewarding employee performance metrics, warehouse managers can identify patterns and trends that may indicate areas for improvement. This information can be used to implement targeted process improvements, such as adjusting staff schedules, reorganizing warehouse layouts, or investing in new technology to streamline operations.

Furthermore, gamification can encourage employees to share ideas for improvements or innovative solutions to operational challenges.

Productivity Enhancement

Gamification capitalizes on the inherent human desire to compete, socialize, and achieve goals. By incentivizing employees to complete tasks more efficiently and accurately, gamification has the potential to enhance productivity and improve overall operational efficiency.

Warehouse wearables such as augmented reality (AR) smart glasses are often used to gamify warehousing processes that rely on productivity, such as picking. Gamification can be used by guiding workers to the correct inventory storage locations using visual cues, such as arrows or highlights, overlaid onto their field of view. This increases the accuracy and speed of the fulfillment process, makes managing inventory more seamless, and reduces worker downtime.

Competitive Spirit

Gamification introduces a competitive element to routine tasks. This fosters a healthy spirit of competition among employees, motivating them to outperform their peers and improve their skills.

Many businesses are gamifying their warehouses by installing giant scoreboards that keep track of every product picked, packed, and shipped by an employee or a team. The scoreboards are visible to employees and thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) connections updated in real-time. Some businesses even provide employees with real-time score updates on the wearable device that they are using, such as a hand-held barcode scanner. This enables workers to keep track of their performance while simultaneously completing their tasks.

Scoreboards not only enhance transparency and encourage friendly rivalry but also provide a sense of meaning to every product being moved throughout warehouse space.

Datex Fast Fact

A recent survey found that 89% of employees felt competitive and eager to compete when specific tasks were gamified

Social Interaction

Gamification enables social interaction among employees through multiplayer modes, chat functionalities, and team-based challenges. This facilitates communication, collaboration, and camaraderie, which can lead to higher employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Goal Setting and Achievement

Incorporating game mechanics such as missions, challenges, and badges enables employees to set personal and team-based goals. Achieving these goals offers a sense of accomplishment and progress, driving employees to continuously improve their performance.

 

Datex Fast Fact

Gamification enhances employee productivity by 50% and employee engagement by 60%

Warehousing Labor Recruitment & Retention

Research shows that Millennial workers and those in Generation Z have different motivational and behavioral patterns than previous generations. This means that they often require techniques that better align their style of learning and skill development with business goals.

As the need for warehouse workers grows and the labor shortage shows no end in sight, businesses are looking to third party logistics providers (3PL) to outsource fulfillment of their logistics and supply chain needs. One reason is because 3PLs have the resources to recruit young, qualified workers to keep fulfillment networks running smoothly.

 

Datex Fast Fact

The average age of video game players is 35 years old

The average age of a warehouse employee is 37 years old

 

In the age of smart warehousing, third party logistics providers are utilizing gamification in warehouse operations to appeal to younger workers. Gamification makes warehousing jobs more attractive to younger, game-wise people because they are exposed to gamification in their day-to-day life. Gamification is natural for young workers and by enabling them to have fun on the job, be incentivized to pick and pack accurately or get products shipped quickly, businesses can gain higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

Datex Fast Fact

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The average turnover rate for warehouse workers is 36%

73% of businesses said they have problems attracting employees

Time Management and Efficiency

In gamified environments, employees may be rewarded for completing tasks within a specified time frame or surpassing established benchmarks. This can encourage them to manage their time more effectively and seek ways to optimize their workflow. These actions help fuel higher productivity which ultimately reduce labor expenses.

Datex Fast Fact

54% of new hires are highly productive because of gamified onboarding

Error Reduction

Gamification can help reduce error rates by rewarding employees for accuracy and penalizing mistakes. This creates an incentive for employees to double-check their work, resulting in improved inventory storage processes and inventory levels.

Continuous Improvement

By tracking performance metrics and offering feedback through game mechanics, employees can better understand their strengths and weaknesses. This promotes continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence in warehousing operations.

Datex Fast Fact

88% of employees were happier at work after the introduction of gamification strategies

Safety Enhancement

One of the principles of warehousing is ensuring the occupational safety and health of employees. Walmart utilizes gamification as a warehousing solution to improve safety in their storage facilities and distribution centers. Workers spend three to five minutes playing a game while answering questions about warehouse safety and are given instant feedback on whether their answers are correct or not. The next time the employee plays the game, it provides them with questions that not only reinforce the knowledge they know but also recap’s knowledge they struggled with. As a result of utilizing gamification:

  • Knowledge levels on safety topics increased by 15%
  • Safety incidents at Walmart distribution centers decreased by 54%
  • Employee confidence increased by 8%

Safe Work Practices

Gamification can be used to teach and reinforce safe work practices, such as proper lifting techniques and equipment handling. By awarding points and achievements for adhering to safety guidelines, employees are more likely to internalize and follow these practices consistently.

By integrating AR gamification with safety training, workers can learn how to identify potential hazards and practice safe work behaviors in a risk-free virtual environment. AR can also be used to overlay safety warnings and reminders in real-time, helping to reinforce safety protocols.

Safety Awareness

Gamification can also increase safety awareness by integrating safety-related challenges and missions into gameplay. This ensures that employees are reminded of the importance of safety in the workplace, reducing the likelihood of complacency and accidents.

Reporting

A gamified approach can encourage employees to report hazards, near misses, and incidents promptly, as they may be rewarded for doing so. This enables warehouse facility management to identify and address potential safety issues more effectively.

For example, gamification can help warehouse staff quickly identify and resolve equipment malfunctions or maintenance issues by overlaying visual instructions, animations, or step-by-step guides directly onto the machinery or equipment.

Training and Skill Development

One of the most significant advantages of gamification’s use in warehousing is its potential to revolutionize the way employees acquire new skills. By transforming the learning process into an engaging and interactive experience, gamification can significantly improve knowledge retention and skill development.

Interactive Learning

Training and skill development are crucial for warehouse employees to perform their tasks efficiently and safely. Traditional training methods, such as lectures and manuals, can be monotonous and lead to disengagement. Gamification offers a more interactive and engaging learning experience, using multimedia elements, simulations, and hands-on activities that can lead to faster skill acquisition.

For instance, gamification can enable an immersive learning experience for new employees. By creating virtual simulations of real-world tasks, employees can learn how to store inventory using equipment such as forklifts or pallet jacks, in a safe and controlled environment.

Customized Training

Gamified training can be tailored to the individual needs and skill levels of each employee. By offering personalized missions and challenges, employees can focus on developing specific skills and competencies necessary for their role in warehousing operations.

Real-time Feedback and Assessment

Due to its IoT connection, gamification offers real-time feedback and assessment, enabling employees to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance immediately. This accelerates the learning process and ensures that employees can quickly become proficient in their tasks.

Knowledge Retention                                                                                                                

Gamified training has been shown to improve knowledge retention rates compared to traditional methods, as it capitalizes on the emotional and cognitive engagement that games provide. By combining the cognitive aspects of learning with emotional engagement, gamification can lead to a deeper understanding and long-term retention of knowledge.

Conclusion

In an era of technological advancements and innovation, companies are seeking business tools like gamification to optimize their fulfillment warehouses to move products in and out of the doors faster. As a result, gamification is becoming an important function of warehousing in the digital supply chain age.

Used in conjunction with warehouse management systems and IoT devices, gamification can improve how a warehouse operates from the process of storing products to picking, packing, and shipping them out of the door. Gamification is a warehouse solution that can improve occupational safety and health of workers by helping them identify potential hazards. This capability can be beneficial to cold storage warehouse workers that may spend a period of time in adverse conditions.

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