How can organizations and L&D professionals provide a fun, interactive, and engaging learning environment? By using gamification in training.
Here's an example of what most companies provide using their legacy learning platform:
- A new team member has just joined the company
- The onboarding process was streamlined
- Human resources assigned the new hire a required training program
- The employee is met with a library of training materials
- Each learning resource is full of paragraph after paragraph of plain text
- They feel like they're wasting time, and at this point, their only thoughts are on the work they're not doing
- Defeated, they exit the learning platform and return to their responsibilities
And why didn't this work? Because there were no gamification elements in the employee training program.
What is gamification in training?
Gamification in training is the act of adding competitive game-based elements to training programs in order to create a fun and engaging training environment while also increasing learning engagement.
Gamification is commonly used in tandem with bite-sized lessons to deliver learning in a more digestible and entertaining way.
How to implement gamification in training
Once you know the benefits gamification training can have, the next step is how you use it in training.
Chances are you already have an online learning platform 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 training
Instead of inventing games that 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 your learning platform has a simple login feature, consider using avatars instead. Allow teams to edit and change their profiles to fit their personalities. And consider adding a team login function. For example, human resource members would have access to a group HR activity feed. They would see notifications, news, and any updates relative to them. This creates a team mentality that fosters camaraderie and invites healthy competition.
3. Change the 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 someone completes a section, there is an evaluation based on that 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 learner 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 training, feedback is given throughout a training course. This ensures teams 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 learners are ready to build on the basics.
5. Elevate your learning platform
Teams and companies know training is important. The issue is sometimes that it’s an afterthought. For example, you have a new product launch and then realize your salespeople need training on this new product. Instead of putting training on the back burner, make your online learning platform more interactive and cement it as a tool that teams need to visit often. Consider adding features like deadlines or appointments to your learning platform. That way, teams will need to access their platform periodically, which will keep training top-of-mind.
6. Create a 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, training gamification offers awards. Look at your training sessions and see where you can add these in. It could be badges, 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 a company-wide newsletter or Intranet motivating others to do the same.
8. Encourage learning platform interaction
Awards should be given out for professional achievements, but you can also give them out for learning achievements. Team members who help their coworkers with a training session or add comments within an online training session should be awarded. Whenever someone adds value to the platform, consider giving them a designation like a badge.
9. Communicate your training plan
Motivation is key to successful training engagement. If people don't know why they're in a training session, they won't put 100% into learning. Make sure you take time during training sessions to explain why learners 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 what you'll go over next after each section. This creates anticipation and keeps teams engaged throughout complex training courses.
The short answer is, that most training is boring. Add that to the fact that attention spans are at an all-time low and a general sense that there just isn't enough time, and you need a solution that meets people where they are. Training videos were an early antidote, but now even they're considered too long and too boring.
However: Short, fun, and interactive lessons are the name of the gamified learning trend, which can increase understanding and retention. However, gamification also speaks to kinesthetic learners and can offer a refreshing mix-up to the status quo.
Makes learning fun
Teams can have negative associations with traditional training. People are constantly asking themselves, “Why is this necessary?” and “What am I taking away from this?” With training gamification, teams can actually have fun while learning. This keeps everyone more engaged and more likely to recall what they have learned on the job.
Instead of sitting in front of a computer watching a lesson or attending a lecture-style class, gamification in training is more interactive. Learners 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, teams get feedback as they go. This ongoing feedback is more helpful because it allows teams to make adjustments and improve along the way.
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 spaced repetition. Basically repeated retrieval and spaced 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 fewer behavioral mistakes made.
Ideal for all training
When you onboard a new hire, your hope is they will stay on and become a valuable member of the team for years to come. Plus, since you hire all types of people, one team member may require different training than the next. That’s why gamification in training works: You can incorporate it into training of all types, from sales, to customer support or compliance training.
Benefits the bottom line
This may be a given, but sometimes organizations lose sight of the ultimate goal which is to be 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, they invest in their own success and that of the company, which can make them more likely to stay long-term.
Gamification in action
Now that you know how to infuse your learning platform with gamification, let’s take a look at how companies put it into action. Here are some real-life examples of companies gamifying their training programs.
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 team members about Siemens' products and solutions while building important behavioral changes for success on the job. Players are assessed on quality, 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 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 multiple choice-style games 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 helps their employees is through new software rollouts. The issues managers ask themselves are:
• Was the money spent on the new software worth it?
• Will people use it?
• 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 which 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 your 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.