What’s the employee sophomore slump?  According to CIO.com writer Sarah K. White in her article, “How to use gamification to improve employee engagement,” it’s when “the high of a new job wears off” and the job has “lost its glamour and that excitement fades.”  

Employees are most likely to become disengaged at this point in their role. In fact, according to Gallup, 70 percent of U.S. workers are disengaged at work.1  

Unfortunately, the majority of your employees are likely in that disengaged middle state between new hire (freshman) and tenured employees (upper classman) who are actively engaged to learn new skills and impress management so they can transition into the next role. Gamification is one way organizations can help keep the middle majority of the workforce engaged and continually developing their skills and job knowledge.

A misperception about gamification is that it’s all about competitions to be the best. That isn’t entirely accurate. Not all employees can be motivated by peer-to-peer competition, so the solution needs to address multiple motivation factors, including:

  • Power or status, for which badges and leader boards work well
  • Social connectedness, for which the ability to give and receive shout outs or kudos to peers is a motivator.
  • Recognition and personal achievement, for which acknowledgement for progress toward goals from both managers and peers works well
  • Rewards – tangible and intangible ones such as money or time off or winning a pizza party for your team.

And, gamification is not just for the employee. Managers benefit from the analytics provided by the solution. They get greater insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their staff, identify opportunities for coaching, and have shared performance data they can use in discussions with employees.

To learn more about how gamification can help keep employees engaged and minimize the “sophomore slump,” read the Executive Perspective, “Moving the Middle.”


1 Gallup 2017 State of the American Workplace Report

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