Gamified Sustainability – The Playful Path to Your Sustainability Transformation

09/12/2022 | Reading time: 5 minutes

Felix Endrejat
Felix Endrejat

Author: Felix Endrejat is a consultant at TheGreenSpring. After working in market research and consulting SMEs, he specialized in social entrepreneurship with the On Purpose Leadership Programme. Felix can advise on the sustainable design of companies and how to involve your employees as the most important resource to get there.

Challenges to implement sustainability

2022 has been one of the hottest years ever measured and Europe has witnessed one of the worst droughts in the last 500 years. We are seeing the effects of the climate crisis today and have to act on every level possible to mitigate it! 

That is why companies are transforming their business and setting themselves climate goals to become more sustainable. The Boston Consulting Group identifies three conditions to enable a successful sustainability transformation

1) Leader Enablement – Business leaders need to be the catalysts of the transformation, they need to set the ambition, convey urgency and support wherever possible, 

2) People Engagement – People are the core of any change. For a successful transformation you need to and keep them engaged by being transparent and communicating openly,

3) Executional Certainty – A company requires a well-organized multi-leveled structure and process behind the transformation to meet its complexity.

What does it look like in reality?

According to the experience in our daily work with organizational transformations, we found people engagement to be the most challenging aspect of the transformation process.  

many hands

In order to understand more about the drivers of transformations and why transformations fail, we conducted interviews and found out that very often employees do not understand what is meant by sustainability. There are so many individual definitions of what is meant with sustainability, therefore it is not surprising that everyone has a different understanding of what is meant and expected of them.

That leads to our second finding: Employees are often not a driving force and not supportive to transformational processes, if they do not see the urgency to act on climate transformation. In that case, it only means additional work to their already full agenda. 

What does a successful transformation look like?

Successful sustainability transformations come from within the company. Transformational processes can be developed at the core, if the staff itself has a clear understanding of the how and why of the company’s sustainability efforts. When ideas and initiatives come from within the company, the transformation thrives and develops momentum. This is why it is helpful to provide knowledge sharing and training regarding sustainability issues among the staff. This will help them perceiving the implementation of climate-relevant processes as a significant contribution towards a more sustainable working environment instead of additional work.

With that in mind, we started to look out for solutions to see how companies, that did not yet have this starting point of a conscious and intrinsically motivated staff. We asked ourselves: How can a company actively engage their employees? How can a company create the foundation for a thriving and ongoing sustainability transformation process?

The idea: Gamified Sustainability

After various brainstorming sessions, prototypes and iterations we came up with a new format which we call Gamified Sustainability

Gami-what? – Gamification! What is gamification? According to Meriam Webster, it is “the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation”. 


Famous examples of gamification are apps like headspace (for meditation) and duolingo (for language learning). With their gamified approach they motivate us to keep going, to keep learning or meditating. Also, they also help us to come back again. They make annoying tasks fun! 

But gamification is not only about tech solutions. In the end it is about the interaction, the comparison, competition or co-creation with or without others. Point systems, badges, leaderboards or small challenges help realize this. And the best part: All of these approaches are very easily integratable into our daily life and work. None of these methods require a complex tech solution.

And how does Gamification fit into the sustainability transformation? 

The core idea: Getting staff engaged by introducing the transformation goal playfully, in order to enable a fundamental change of mindset regarding the sustainability transformation. We add elements, which make it more interesting and fun to engage with sustainability issues and to develop a consciousness for sustainable development step by step. Small daily challenges on team and individual level motivate employees to contribute to the sustainability strategy of the company. It is all about getting the sustainability transformation started.

Gamified Sustainability – 2 Steps for a Successful Transformation

We have defined two easy steps that the company will repeat. Throughout the process, the steps will become more complex with every iteration. 

1) Together with the management, the company defines a goal: for example the reduction of X kg CO2. 

2) In a 2nd step, we sit down with the teams and identify the immediately achievable objectives, or the low-hanging fruits, and how they contribute to the company’s goals.

For example, the Sales department could determine the rule to use the train instead of flying to visit customers. At the same time, the office management turns down the heating and saves paper, etc. This way, each department of the company contributes a small part to achieve the common corporate goal.  Adapted to the company’s communication channels, we set up a communication strategy so employees can see visually how far their team has already come in fulfilling their contribution. 

Gamified Sustainability as motivating factor for employees

Through this approach, companies will achieve a higher degree of individual contribution among employees. Companies will easily promote a shift of mindset among the staff. Employees will actively engage with sustainability issues through the challenges and eventually will contribute ideas themselves in the following rounds of the gamified approach.

Finally, there is also a team building and retention effect: Employees work together to achieve a goal. They have the opportunity to come up with ideas for implementing the strategy themselves, instead of following a predefined strategy.

Once they completed the first iteration, it is time to move forward to the next iteration, alias the next round. With every round we formulate more and more ambitious company goals and team challenges moving the sustainability transformation forward according to the needs of the staff.

Sounds exciting? 

Let’s co-create! Get in touch and learn more about how our gamified approach will help to start the sustainability transformation in your company!