What Is Gamification in Employee Training? (+Benefits, Examples)

gamification in training

Workplace training today looks much different than it used to. We now know that learners retain more information when they feel engaged and enjoy the ways information is delivered to them. This has led to a new age of learning and development (L&D) programs comprising short, fun learning scenarios sprinkled with motivating achievement checkpoints to keep learners motivated, no matter the subject – gamification learning.

The term “gamification” was coined in the early 2000s and defined as the application of game-like elements into non-game contexts. Principles of gamification, however, have been used in business contexts since the late 1800s.

Applications of gamification to workplace learning and development have surged in the past decade. As of 2020, Vynz Research valued the global gamification market at $5.3 billion, with a compound average growth rate of 32.7% through 2027.

What is Gamified Training?

Gamified training incorporates gaming elements such as points and badges into training courses, putting a new spin on workplace learning. By leveraging psychology, gamified training engages learners and makes them more willing to take on repetitive tasks despite the risk of failure. Gamification of training has been shown to improve the employee recruitment process, increase retention, improve the adoption of new software, and improve the performance of individual employees.

Key Features of Gamification for Corporate Training

Here are some specific elements of a gamification framework.

1. Goals

All workplace training efforts need to be goal-oriented, and gamified training needs to be built around getting employees to reach those goals. Whether the goals are related to performing certain tasks or achieving the next level of subject matter expertise, they should be clear to learners from the first lesson. 

Create SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) to define the parameters that ensure the objectives are attainable within a specific time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, assigns a clear timeline, and sets employees up for success. Defining SMART goals makes it easier for managers to track the progress of their employees while completing the goals.

2. In-lesson game elements

There are many areas to incorporate game elements throughout the learning process, many of which are in-lesson. Things like brief checkpoint quizzes within a narrative lesson, interactive roleplaying scenarios, or even vocabulary flashcard games can be part of the in-lesson gamification. 

3. Post-lesson game elements

Game elements can also be applied post-lesson in the form of cumulative knowledge quizzes or recall of earlier lessons. The point of these callbacks is to reinforce knowledge and ensure maximum learning retention.

4. Competitive elements

Incorporating points, badges, and leaderboards allow for friendly competition and motivates learners to complete training activities to the best of their abilities. 

5. Rewards

While competitive elements like points and badges make training more engaging, they don’t always work as the only source of motivation. It can be helpful to offer more tangible rewards when learners reach certain milestones as well. Rewards provide employees with incentives to complete lessons and boost engagement. 

6. Scorecards

Scorecards are progress summaries that display details about the performance of individual learners. They can be customized to include several stats, including the learner’s name and profile photo or avatar, total experience points and badges collected, leaderboard standings, and leveling progress. This tool can be used by the L&D team and learners to monitor pain points and compare success without digging into the data.  

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The Benefits of Gamification in Workplace Training

Now that you are familiar with gamification training, let’s discuss a few benefits of the technique.

1. Increased engagement and productivity

When employees enjoy the process of learning, they are more likely to retain information and keep up with lessons. Just like in other areas of work, increased engagement is tied to eagerness, productivity, and overall enjoyment of employee experience. Knowing that employers are dedicated to improving employee experience and engagement goes a long way toward keeping team members motivated in their roles. 

2. Encourages social interaction and teamwork

With gamification, training becomes a vehicle for social interaction and team bonding. It incorporates a bit of healthy competition into the training program and keeps learners eager to make progress. When employees are grouped by their department and progress is measured as a unit, they are motivated to demonstrate the aptitude of their team and work together to come out on top.

3. Fosters creativity and innovation

Game elements aren’t restricted to quizzes and memory puzzles, they can be designed to foster creative approaches to challenging situations. For instance, open-ended questions can be incorporated into role-playing scenarios, and responses can be discussed as a group. Or, groups of learners can be assigned a particular problem to be solved together. There isn’t always one right answer when it comes to gamification in training.

4. Improves training results

As it has become more commonly used in the workplace, gamified training has been shown to improve outcomes such as learning retention, workplace productivity, and overall employee experience. With these factors being the ultimate goal of most workplace training, it’s clear that gamification is a great way to maximize the efficiency of training efforts. 

5. Enables shorter feedback cycles

In game design, feedback loops take the result of a given action and use it as input into the same process, making the player feel accomplished and motivated to keep going. In a gamified training context, feedback cycles let learners build on their success to reach goals quickly.

Different Areas of Gamification in Corporate Training

Gamification can be applied to training efforts in many different contexts.

1. Employee onboarding

Onboarding is a critical period for new hires, during which encouragement and engagement can make all the difference. Providing enjoyable and easy-to-navigate onboarding training content for new hires engages and supports them to get started with their new positions enthusiastically. 

2. Compliance training

Most corporations require compliance training as a response to governmental regulations to ensure that businesses and their employees are operating ethically, within the constraints of the law. This training deals with subject matter that is often considered dense and uninteresting, making it a fantastic candidate for gamification. 

Incorporating game elements such as mini-games and learning competitions can make compliance training less strenuous and ensure that employees absorb enough information to achieve proficiency. 

3. Employee upskilling

When a business rolls out new internal software or product offerings, employees need training to absorb all the relevant information and fully adopt new programs and products. Learning new software often needs to happen quickly, so implementing competitive game elements into training and allowing employees to tap into friendly competition as they learn provides the motivation necessary to get everybody on board. 

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4. Software or product training

Most corporations require compliance training as a response to governmental regulations to ensure that businesses and their employees are operating ethically, within the constraints of the law. This training deals with subject matter that is often considered dense and uninteresting, making it a fantastic candidate for gamification. 

Incorporating game elements such as mini-games and learning competitions can make compliance training less strenuous and ensure that employees absorb enough information to achieve proficiency. 

5. Sales training

Sales contests are a tried and tested approach to motivating sales professionals to meet their targets and reach performance goals. Gamification can be incorporated into sales training to allow team members to work their way through tough client conversations, refresh themselves on product information, and perfect sales techniques more efficiently. 

Real-Life Successful Gamification Examples in Organizations

In the past decade, businesses across almost every industry have incorporated gamification principles into employee training. This has provided abundant evidence suggesting that gamification provides a versatile framework that can be incorporated into existing workplace training or used to build out new L&D initiatives. 

Deloitte Leadership Academy

Deloitte is a prominent international professional services network that provides various services like consulting, auditing, and risk advisory to its clients around the world. In 2008, the Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA) was established as an online internal training program. DLA used gamification principles to boost engagement and regular participation by 37% by early 2013. Achievements were shareable on sites like LinkedIn, incentivizing participation by boosting the public reputation of individual employees. In 2011, Deloitte established what is now called Deloitte University, which serves as its real-life hub for employee learning, development, networking, and well-being.

Cisco

Digital communications technology company, Cisco, uses gamification to train its employees to become social media experts. Its social media training program provides several levels of certification, including a number of sub-specializations specific to different job functions. Cisco’s L&D program includes team challenges that promote collaborative training, exploration of social media topics, and progression loops that guide learners along the path to mastery of social media skills. This program has been hugely successful, equipping Cisco employees with the knowledge they need to use social media effectively in a professional context.

McDonald’s Japan

New associates at McDonald’s Japan are trained in their work duties, flipping burgers and even frying fries, via a specially designed Nintendo game. New hires complete these training games at home, so they could focus on other necessary skills when they clocked into work. This is a great example of innovative gamification that saved McDonald’s plenty of time and money.

How to Gamify Training in Your Workplace

The beauty of gamification is its versatility. Depending on the needs of your organization, there are many ways to build gamification into your learning and development program.

1. Insert gamification into existing training programs

Gamifying training in the workplace doesn’t require starting from scratch. Game elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can be incorporated into existing training efforts to make lessons more engaging and successful. 

2. Develop a learning path

Gamified training isn’t about getting employees to play through a few interactive lessons and hoping they learn something. Whether training is being conducted in-person or virtually, lessons must be designed to flow into and build off of one another, leading employees toward mastery of a given skill or knowledge area. 

In digital learning applications, a learning path may consist of different levels of lessons that learners must complete and master in order to move on to the next. This flow builds on engagement and momentum to propel learners toward proficiency. 

3. Align with company culture and learning objectives

L&D efforts must be aligned with company culture and wider learning objectives to demonstrate the values, ideas, and areas of expertise that are prioritized by the organization. Doing this improves employee experience and helps team members feel connected to their companies.

4. Clearly explain the game

Gamifying L&D programs must make lessons more enjoyable and not confusing. Before learners are set loose on training content, they should be clear on the goals of training, how to reach those goals, what rules they need to follow, and how they will receive rewards for their achievement. The overall purpose of the training and its benefits for employees and the organization should also be straightforwardly laid out. 

5. Offer enticing rewards

Incentivizing learning through achievement rewards is a key component of gamified training. These rewards must be desirable to employees and feel worth all the effort they put into learning. Whether it’s a free lunch, a weekend away, or a token of public recognition, rewards should entice workplace learners to excel as they complete training milestones and in their day-to-day responsibilities. 

6. Boost engagement with competition

A big way that gamified training content motivates employees to play and learn more is through friendly competition. By incorporating leaderboards and lightheartedly competitive elements, gamification in training encourages team members to flaunt their accomplishments in a way that helps everyone succeed. 

7. Track the success of gamification

An important component of gamifying workplace training is keeping track of performance as employees embark on their training journeys. As the numbers roll in, it may be necessary to fine-tune the process by changing details like rewards or lesson length to boost effectiveness. 

 

Conclusion

Over the years, gamification has proven to be an effective and versatile tool for improving workplace training. These methods keep learners highly engaged and eager to learn more as they move toward learning a new software or skill. Incorporating gamification features into corporate training programs improves training results, saving time and money in the process. 

Another alternative to deliver engaging employee training is implementing a digital adoption platform such as Whatfix. The platform helps deliver step-by-step in-app guidance on any software or application to promote self-sufficiency and achieve proficiency in record time.

Schedule a free demo with us today if you are looking to boost training effectiveness and unlock maximum ROI from your enterprise applications! 

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