The Difference Using Gamification in Training Employees

Put yourself in the shoes of a new employee for a second. You are eager to begin a new job. You show up for your first day and sit through a boring video, several manuals, and stacks of documents to fill out. Then, you are sent through a series of training sessions before ever being allowed to contribute in your new role. Chances are you switched jobs to reenergize your career. And now your first days on the new job are proving to be no different than your last days at your former job.

If you want to stand out from your competitors and create a positive first impression, you need an onboarding process that sets the stage for a great and lasting career for a new employee. An employee wants to hit the ground running and you hired this person to fill an immediate need. So how do you make it a win-win situation for both sides? By using gamification in training.

What is gamification in training?

Gamification in training is the process of applying gaming designs and concepts to learning or training sessions in order to make them more engaging and entertaining for your employees. And instead of being taught through lesson plans, individuals learn through interactive gamification. This creates a more rewarding learning environment and is more interactive.

Benefits of gamification over other training methods

So now that they you know what gamification in training is, why is it better than other onboarding methods? We’ll give you some of the pros to using gamification in training and why it works.

Makes learning fun

As we have mentioned earlier, training can be viewed negatively by employees. The questions rolling through their heads are, “why is this necessary?” “What am I truly taking away from this session?” With gamification in training, employees are having fun while learning. This keeps everyone more engaged and more likely to recall what they have learned on the job.

More interactive

Instead of sitting in front of a computer watching a lesson or attending a lecture-style class, gamification in training is more interactive. Employees are given real-life scenarios and situations and asked how to respond. This forces a deeper knowledge of the materials and a more realistic approach to learning. Plus, this can be done on an individual level or as a team.

Feedback throughout sessions

With more traditional training, you learn your score or are given advice once your session is completed, With gamification in training, employees are given feedback as they progress throughout the training. This ongoing feedback is more helpful because employees can make adjustments as the training goes on. Basically, you learn while you train and can take this feedback and improve along the way.

Changes habits

We all have habits and often do not recognize these unless they are pointed out to us. With gamification in training, these habits can be changed through repeated retrieval and space repetition. Basically repeated retrieval and space repetition is spacing out the same learning session over time. For example, one learning session may be broken into four sections with one week off in between each session. It has been proven that this format creates more knowledge retention and more time for self-reflection. The end result is more information learned and less behavioral mistakes made.

Ideal for all training

When you onboard a new employee, your hope is they will stay on and become a valuable employee for years to come. Plus, since you hire all types of employees, one employee may require different training than the next. That’s why gamification in training is best. It can be incorporated whether training sales, customer support or compliance employees.

Benefits the bottom line

This may be a given, but sometimes organizations lose sight of the ultimate goal which is to a successful and profitable company. Why? Because they forget about the details in order to achieve this. By using gamification in training, employees retain more and enjoy the learning process. In return, they utilize more of these skills on the job and make the company stronger. Plus, their success and that of the company’s, makes them invested and want to stay long-term.

How to add gamification in training

Once you know the benefits gamification can have, the next step is how do you use it in training? Chances are you already have a learning management system (LMS) in place, but what is the process for adding gamification to it? Here are some steps to take to infuse your training with gamification.

1. Use gamification within existing session

Instead of inventing games which can be costly and time-consuming, take a look at your existing materials. Where can gaming elements be inserted? Look for places where you want employees to solve challenges and change behaviors. Then add gaming elements at these points in the training process.

2. Add avatar login features

If you have a simple login feature for your LMS, consider using avatars instead. Allow employees to edit and change their profiles to fit their personalities. And consider adding a team log in function. For example, human resource employees would have access to a group HR activity feed. These employees would see notifications, news, and any updates relative to them. This creates a team mentality which fosters comradery and also healthy competition.

3. Change format of complex lessons

We touched on this a bit before, but with gamification in training, complex sessions should be broken out into sub training sessions. Think of it in terms of a video game you may play. You must complete one section of the game before advancing to the next. Once you have completed all sections of the game, you win.

With training, after an employee completes a section, there is an evaluation based on that set of material. Once they pass a section points are accumulated and they move to the next section. These points can be used to see where each employee is within the training process. It is both rewarding to receive these points and a motivation factor if your peer is ahead of you in the process.

4. Offer feedback throughout courses

If your sessions or courses are built in a more traditional format saving feedback for the end, change this. With gamification in training, feedback is given throughout a training course. This ensures employees are learning as they progress through the course. It also helps learn more complex topics by making sure simpler concepts are learned first. Feedback on these simpler concepts is given, changes are incorporated, and then employees are ready to build upon the basics.

5. Elevate your LMS

Employees and companies know training is important. The issue is sometimes it’s an afterthought. For example, you have a new product launch and then realize your sales staff needs training on this new product. Instead of putting training on the back burner, make your LMS more interactive and a tool that employees need to come to often. Consider adding features like deadlines or appointments to your LMS. That way employees will need to access their LMS periodically. This will put training top of mind.

6. Create peer setting

Whether you are using a blended learning format or strictly an eLearning one, a peer-focused approach is ideal for gamification in training. Feedback is great from an instructor, but sometimes it means more coming from a co-worker. Plus, highlighting the successes of one employee can motivate others to achieve higher results.

7. Build in awards

Just like you may get points by advancing in a video game level, gamification in training offers awards. Look at your training sessions and see where you can add these in. It could be points, recognition or an employee perk like an extra day off. This could also be taken one step further with a formal points system. For example, every level of points achieved earns a certain reward. The top point earners could be highlighted in an employee newsletter or Intranet motivating others to do the same.

8. Encourage LMS interaction

Awards should be given out for academic achievements, but they should also be for LMS achievements. Employees who help co-workers with a training session or add comments within an online training session should be awarded. Whenever an employee adds value to the LMS, consider giving LMS designations like badges.

9. Communicate training plan

Employees are not motivated if they don’t know why they are in a training session. Make sure within your training sessions it’s explained as to why they are taking this particular course, what they will learn, and how it will benefit their job. Also, if a course will be broken up into subsections, explain after each section what will be learned next. This creates anticipation and keeps employees engaged throughout complex training courses.

Gamification in action

Now that you know some of the ways to infuse your LMS with gamification, let’s take a look at other companies. Here are some real-life examples of companies adding gamification in training to their programs.

Manager training

Siemens used gamification in training to help its operations managers successfully run its plants. They used a game called PlantVille. It mimics the popular Zynga game, FarmVille. Basically, the game is a simulation experience of the roles a plant manager typically has. Players need to navigate these daily job responsibilities and make decisions based on the best plan for their plant.

This game’s goal is to teach employees lessons about the products and solutions from Siemens while building important behavioral changes for success on the job.  Players are assessed on quality, employee satisfaction, safety, and timeliness. This game is fun, but also teaches valuable lessons that strengthen job performance and the company as a whole.

Sales training

Sales training is crucial for any company. In order to make your teams most effective in selling, add gamification in training. Take SAP for example. They have a large sales force with constant new product rollouts. The sales team needs to master each of these new offerings in order to effectively sell them.

So SAP added a gamification tool called Roadwarrior. This is an app that offers a multiple choice-style game where the sales team members compete to become the leading product expert. The game is designed to teach the latest technology products and also simulates a typical sales meeting with a potential customer. The end result is a healthy dose of competition while getting sales team members to memorize new product offerings. And then to effectively sell these new products and gain new customers.

New software training

Companies are constantly looking for ways to improve workflow. One of these ways companies help their employees is through new software rollouts. The issues managers ask themselves are “was the money spent on the new software worth it?” “Will employees use it and will it be effective?” One way to quickly answer these questions is to use gamification in training for a new software program rollout.

Take MessageOps who started using Office 365 Adoption as a way to manage day to day operations in a cloud-based setting. To motivate its employees to learn and use this new software, they gamified it. Some of the ways they accomplished this is by giving team members missions to learn. Once an employee learned a section of the new software, they earned badges, received prizes, and got recognition from the company. There is also a leaderboard displaying top performers creating competition between employees. This example of gamification in training motivates employees to learn the new software and more importantly start using it on a daily basis.

Where does gamification fit into your training?

We’ve touched upon some of the ways gamification in training can help companies of any size. The benefits like making learning fun, building a team environment, and making employees more engaged are all important. Plus, team members will retain more of what’s being taught making the entire company more competitive and profitable.

If you use gamification in training, we’d love to hear what works well for you. How do you use it? What are some examples of your company gamified? Let us know your thoughts.

Kristy is a content writer for Continu and marketing freelancer. When she’s not working on her latest blog post, she enjoys tackling new recipes and destressing during yoga sculpt.