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Playing in the backstore: interface gamification increases warehousing workforce engagement

Mario Passalacqua (Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnique Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Pierre-Majorique Léger (Department of Information Technologies, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Lennart E. Nacke (HCI Games Group, Games Institute, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)
Marc Fredette (Department of Decision Sciences, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Élise Labonté-Lemoyne (Department of Management, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Xinli Lin (Blue Yonder, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA)
Tony Caprioli (Blue Yonder, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA)
Sylvain Sénécal (Department of Marketing, HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 10 June 2020

Issue publication date: 18 July 2020




In a warehouse setting, where hourly workers performing manual tasks account for more than half of total warehouse expenditure, a lack of employee engagement has been directly linked to company performance. In this article, the authors present a laboratory experiment in which two gamification elements, goal setting and feedback, are implemented in a wearable warehouse management system (WMS) interface to examine their effect on user engagement and performance in an item picking task. Both implicit (neurophysiological) and explicit (self-reported) measures of engagement are used, allowing for a richer understanding of the user's perceived and physiological state.


This experiment uses a within-subject design. Two experimental factors, goals and feedback, are manipulated, leading to three conditions: no gamification condition, self-set goals and feedback and assigned goals and feedback. Twenty-one subjects participated (mean age = 24.2, SD = 2.2).


This article demonstrates that gamification can successfully increase employee engagement, at least in the short-term. The integration of self-set goals and feedback game elements has the greatest potential to generate long-term intrinsic motivation and meaningful engagement, leading to greater employee engagement and performance.


This article explores the underlying effects of gamification through two of the most prominent motivational theories (self-determination theory [SDT] and goal-setting theory) and one of the leading employee engagement models (job demands-resource model [JD-R[ model). This provides a theory-rich interpretation of the data, which allows to uncover the motivational pathways by which gamification affects engagement and performance.



This work was funded by Mitacs under Grant IT10115, and by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) under grant IRCPJ 514835-16. The funder did not play a role in the research process.


Passalacqua, M., Léger, P.-M., Nacke, L.E., Fredette, M., Labonté-Lemoyne, É., Lin, X., Caprioli, T. and Sénécal, S. (2020), "Playing in the backstore: interface gamification increases warehousing workforce engagement", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 120 No. 7, pp. 1309-1330.



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