• Posted by: Camilo
  • Category: Global Learning

Organizations are looking for more engaging, memorable, and motivating ways to teach the product, process and industry knowledge that their employees need to be successful. And games are a great way to do this.” – Steven Boller

I’m sure you’ve been there before: stuck at a computer for hours on end going through screen after screen of employee training. It doesn’t necessarily spell F-U-N, does it? Gamification is quickly emerging as a popular training tool to train the workforce using a fun, engaging format. In fact, gamification has actually increased learning potential.

What is Gamification

Let’s first explore what this is. Gamification applies gaming technology to a non-game environment. A popular example is the Fitbit app and fitness tracking device. Users can earn badges and compete with friends based on their number of steps. This system further motivates users to get in more steps as they receive “rewards” based on the number of steps they take.

In the workforce, gamification technology can be used to make training more motivating and engaging. Learners can earn points, leaderboard status, badges, and so forth as they complete various steps of the training process.

For example:

  • McDonald’s trained staff members on a new cash register/ordering system using a learning tool that tracked scores, challenges, times, & feedback.
  • Heineken created the Heineken Capability Academy where learners can answer questions, earn points, and compete with others to land a spot on the leader board.
  • Nobel Media uses a gamified approach to help educate individuals who need to draw blood. The user can drag & drop the mouse to take a blood sample, take & retake tests, and participate in challenges to make it on a high score list.

This is just a small handful of examples of how to utilize gamification in an eLearning environment. There are many other excellent examples of how companies are using gamification to enhance the learning environment.

When to use Gamification

Onboarding Process
You can use gamification as a fantastic onboarding tool for new employees. You can probably remember sitting through a long, boring training session. A gamified approach, on the other hand, can engage learners more as it incentivizes them to efficiently & successfully complete the training. Not only that, but researchers have found that gamification helped increase employee motivation and retention (Interaction Design and Architecture Journal).

Increasing Employee Performance
Gamification serves a purpose beyond simply onboarding an individual; it can be used to help analyze and improve employee performance. Popular Human Resources company, ADP, has noted that “Games are great vehicles for delivering the sort of cost-effective rewards and recognition that can motivate employees toward the specific business outcomes, whether that’s learning, efficiency, better service provision or higher sales.” Games could provide that “pat on the back” incentive that many employees often crave, but may not always get. This built-in reward system can boost morale and improve overall performance.

Learners can also use gamification tools to analyze their workday, along with an opportunity for them to receive strategic advice based on their performance (eLearning Industry). Microsoft experienced this in their organization when they implemented a gamification system to improve performance goals, boost productivity, and increase retention. This method isn’t just tracking the performance, but it’s actively giving user feedback and suggestions on improvement!

Encouraging Teamwork
Gamification can apply to more than simply individual training. You could use gamification to encourage teamwork in the workplace. For example, you could design activities where employees are sorted by team and can collaborate when answering questions. Since people tend to not want to let their team down, it’s a fantastic opportunity to experience increased engagement among employees.

Properly Implementing Gamification
As you implement gamification into your eLearning, keep in mind your learning goals. OK, that’s five words. But simply implementing gamification technology with little thought to learning outcomes could be a missed opportunity. Kumar and Herger refer to this as the “chocolate covered broccoli” approach since a company is just adding points and badges, but with no connection to learning goals.

But don’t let that deter you either. Implementing a gamification system into a training plan doesn’t need to involve a complete overhaul of the existing eLearning system. Researchers have found that “gamification can be implemented in existing technical infrastructures without changing the basic workflow itself.” Approach gamification implementation with a clear sense of what you want your learners to gain from the experience, and that’s a solid starting point.

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