Motivation in the workplace: create it with Octalysis

Most businesses are struggling to create happy and motivated people in the workplace

Most businesses are struggling to create happy and motivated people in the workplace. Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, workers have been disengaged at work for decades. Despite an avalanche of products to make work more efficient and more engaging, the dismal numbers of workplace motivation and engagement have not moved an inch.

Let’s have a look at these low numbers of workplace engagement and find out why we should even care about employee motivation. More importantly, let’s discover what we can do about it and find out how to create workplaces and processes that are truly engaging and fun.


The dismal state of motivation in the workplace

For years now, the percentage of workers worldwide that describe themselves as motivated has been very low indeed. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace (2017), the percentage of adults that are engaged at work – highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace – is just 15%. Western Europe (10%) and East Asia (6%) are even worse off than the global average.

More shockingly: a stunning 18% are actively disengaged at work. So 1-in-5 coworkers are resentful and actively sabotage what engaged workers accomplish.

Interestingly, engagement numbers worldwide have hardly moved over the last 3 decades. So even the introduction of email, CRM systems, and Slack have not made workers more motivated in the workplace. Clearly introducing new technology has not changed happiness at work in any way. We will see later what will.


So why should we care about motivation in the workplace?

First of all: it costs money due to low and falling productivity. A LOT of money. It is estimated that workplace disengagement costs the US economy around USD 500 Billion every year. The worldwide cost is not specifically calculated, but is estimated at a whopping USD 4 Trillion annually. Business could be so much more profitable, at lower prices for consumers!

Secondly, we are faced with what I call a Worldwide Crisis of Engagement. More than ever, people’s motivation is being targeted by an avalanche of social media, games and other distractors. So much so that we are now taking in around 180 times more information than 200 years ago. However, our brains have not fundamentally changed and increasingly people find it more difficult to focus on tasks.

Our motivation is a finite resource. Think of it like a battery, once it is depleted it needs to be replenished. Since most of the jobs in the New Economy will be cognition intensive (you need to use your brain/creativity more than in the Old Economy), being able to focus is more important than ever.

How can we design engaging and productive workplaces?

So we know now that technology by itself is not going to change motivation. Not AI, VR, AR, MR or any other invention. What is going to change motivation in the workplace is a full redesign of how workers interact with their work and their colleagues. How they are praised and appraised. And how they are masters of their own journey.

We need to ensure that work processes are optimised for human motivation. This is even more important with growing digitalisation of the workplace as well as remote working. Enter The Octalysis Framework: the world’s leading framework to analyse and design for human motivation. For more than a decade we have researched the power of successful games. Now we are using the lessons learned from these games to make truly engaging and high ROI designs for our customers.

Key in our work is that we do not rely on just adding a few points, badges and leaderboards to make experiences rewarding. Long term motivation does not derive from extrinsic rewards but from giving users the ability to have autonomy, creativity, collaboration and joyful surprises along the way. We don’t assume that people want to interact with functionality, just because it is there for them. And we make sure our designs evolve with the seniority of the user in the experience: users’ motivation and knowledge changes over time and design should change with them.

The Octalysis Group has designed work processes and experiences for a large number of small and large companies. We are empowering Microsoft Learn and Azure users through our designs. But we are also assisting small and medium size companies worldwide in ensuring that their workforce is motivated in the short and the long term.

Our work is high value and requires a high level of sophistication from our consultants over a wide variety of specialisations. From business consulting, to behavioral psychology, to micro-economics, to UI/UX. So we take great care in the selection of our people, as the only thing we have is our high quality of delivery.


Case Study

One of the examples of our work that has attracted a lot of attention in the last few years has been the work we did for Navo Orbico (workforce 9,000 employees). Their sales teams were struggling with motivation. Sales numbers had been stagnant for years and employee churn was a constant concern.

We crafted a truly engaging experience for their teams, and integrated it fully with their CRM system. The experience focused on giving people a meaningful path in their workflow and gave them autonomous choices, strategy and meaningful social collaboration with colleagues. We turned their work life from a linear, grinding experience into a non-linear exciting path of professional and personal growth.


The results?

  • Sales up more than 28%
  • KPIs up more than 60%
  • Social Interaction up 300%


This was a voluntary participation project ,yet we got a 99% participation rate. Two years later these numbers still hold up and the project is a success. For more details about our work for Navo Orbico see: Navo Orbico Case Study.


Want high motivation in the workplace as well?

We can help you create a truly engaging workplace context as well. We adjust how we design and how the end product looks like based on your needs, company culture and employee profiles.

Our projects result in both gamey and non-gamey designs, and which one to choose depends on what fits best with your target group and business culture. One highly successful design for example, was an application for Billionaires. It did not feel like a game, but all the powerful motivation from games was stealthily embedded in this highly successful product.

Sounds like something you or your firm could be interested in?

Contact me for a free consultation and find out what ROIs we can deliver for you!

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