Building a culture of recognition using gamification at work

by Tosho Trajanov

4 min read

Team morale is an essential part of the work culture in any successful organization. No matter if you are an enterprise company or a startup, in order to keep your team's effectiveness you have to show them their work is valued and appreciated.

At Adeva, we encourage giving positive feedback to our team as often as possible.

Gamification in the workplace ?

The concept of gamification operates under the same science as video games. They are here to activate human reward centers. Lately, gamification is a growing trend in team engagement, especially for companies who help employees reach certain goals and objectives.

The theory is that everyone likes games and that we all like a bit of friendly competition and the rewards that come with it.

Why is team recognition important? 

Appreciation is a fundamental human need. It is also a powerful way to strengthen a relationship with the team in an organization. Being recognized for the good work you are doing means you are doing something valuable. When someone values your work, your satisfaction rises and you get motivated to maintain or improve your work quality even more.

How do we create a recognition culture? 

It is important for team members to provide feedback and praise each other. And this means more than sending general messages of thanks. People want to hear that the team recognizes and values their individual efforts.

Verbal recognition is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to start. But, when working in bigger organizations or distributed teams, there should be a different way to praise your team members.

At Adeva, we are trying to be as innovative as we can. When it comes to team engagement and people happiness at work, we try everything. Aside from the many other team activities, few weeks ago we introduced HeyTaco!, a Slack plugin. Yes, we are in love with it.

Hey Taco! is a fun and entertaining way for us to recognize people when they say or do awesome things. It uses Slack as a base and lets us simply add the taco emoji (?) in our messages when we want to recognize someone. Everyone in the team gets 5 tacos to give out each day.

We give tacos to each other in any occasion. When times are tough, for birthdays and anniversaries, when we do something we value, or for fun.

We keep track of the recognition with our leaderboard. Everyone in the team wants to get to the top of that list, by receiving more tacos. This means more appreciation shown in the team.

It is true that too often we get caught up in our work, therefore, we forget to recognize each other and celebrate. Lately, giving tacos is becoming an essential part of our daily communication. It is a way to for us show how much we value and appreciate good actions and say thank you. A way for us to celebrate and be happier at work.

* Why tacos? The short answer the creators gave is that everyone loves tacos. They are fun and they make people smile. A little secret - HeyTaco! didn’t begin with tacos, it started out with beers (?).

Where else could we apply gamification?

By creating a positive atmosphere and a supportive work culture, every organization can increase the team engagement. The usage of gamification at work is limitless and the organizations can apply it in many different business areas as:

  • Recruitment
  • Sales
  • Task management
  • Measuring work performance

How are you using gamification in your organization? Feel free to leave your comment in the form below.


Q: What is gamification in the workplace?
Gamification uses game design elements in non-game applications. It's a growing trend in team engagement, especially for companies that help employees reach certain goals and objectives. 
Q: What is gamification used for?
Gamification can be used for:
  • Recognizing people when they say or do awesome things.
  • Increasing employee engagement and motivation.
  • Friendly competition.
  • Strengthening a relationship with the team.
Q: How does gamification work?
To improve employee engagement, companies award employees with virtual items (for example points) for a specific behavior (completed task, sold product, happy customer). Those points should offer access to privileges and rewards.
Q: What is the difference between gamification and game-based learning?
The concept of gamification operates under the same science as video games. It activates human reward centers. However, gamification is not a game. Games are often much more complex.
Tosho Trajanov
Tosho Trajanov

Tosho is a co-founder at Adeva, with over a decade of experience in the tech industry. He has partnered with diverse organizations, from nimble startups to Fortune 500 companies, to drive technological advancements and champion the effectiveness of cross-cultural, distributed teams.

  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Product Strategy
  • Software Architecture
  • Agile Methodologies
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