This is a guest post by John Findlay is co-founder of Launchfire.
You just took over a team, and you are frustrated with the level of training your employees received under your predecessor. Perhaps the previous leader didn’t invest in training at all or maybe he or she just wasted everyone’s time with ineffective training. And now you need to make big changes.
Developing your employees is critical to the success of your team, so it’s wise to make training a part of your plan and budget. Because you could very well be starting from scratch, now is as a good a time as any to consider gamification.
Why use gamification? At the heart of the answer to that question is a simple truth: Traditional workplace training can be expensive, ineffective … and downright boring … if you aren’t careful. On the other hand, gamification can improve the efficacy of training. A study by the University of Colorado found that gamified training improved knowledge retention by 9 percent. And employees in another study were 51 percent more motivated to complete training when they could play a game.
There are dozens of gamification tactics that make training content more compelling. Each tactic motivates employees to engage with training content in different ways, so base your decision on what motivates your employees and what you want the outcome of the training to be.
As you research your options, here are seven gamification tactics to look for in workplace training:
- Progress. Gamification taps into our natural curiosity about what lies ahead and the challenges we will face. Progress indicators like timers, progress bars and levels, appeal to employees’ desire to finish things. They motivate employees to complete training modules and continue learning, so you know employees are more likely to make it to the finish line.
- Collection. The desire to collect is one of the oldest human motivators, dating back to our hunter/gatherer days. Most of us no longer forage for food or shelter, but we still have that instinctive nature to collect. Gamification taps into that instinct to encourage repetitive engagement with training content. Employees have to keep playing in order to collect badges, points and trophies. And the more they engage, the more they learn.
- Ratings. Gamified digital programs allow for nearly unlimited replays. But how can you persuade employees to take advantage of the program’s replay-ability? One effective tactic is to rate their performance. Games like the notoriously addictive Candy Crush provide a rating after each round. A one-star rating indicates that you barely completed the round while a three-star rating means you aced it. The ratings inspire players to replay training modules to the point of mastery.
- Prizing. Prizes add an external motivation for completing training modules or earning high scores. Even an extra day off can be a great incentive to drive participation and engagement. Not to mention employees will look forward to future training programs if there is another opportunity to win.
- Competition. Competition motivates us because we have an innate drive to demonstrate preeminence and success. Gamified training appeals to that competitive nature by challenging employees to reach the top of the leaderboard. In addition to player versus player, training programs can also feature team competition. We’re often more motivated when working together in competition against other teams. Integrating team competition into training programs encourages cooperation while increasing participation and engagement.
- Simulation. While listening and reading are crucial activities on the learning path, it’s through “doing” that we truly master course material. Simulations allow employees to practice new skills in a virtual environment where mistakes have no real-world consequences. This is especially effective for new employees who are afraid to make mistakes. Simulations also help employees understand the importance of new training, and how it relates to their day to day activities.
- Storytelling. Creating deep engagement with training material requires tactics beyond leaderboards and badges. Compelling narratives take your gamified training program from a mere game to an immersive experience. Stories appeal to our emotional sides, allowing us to “lose ourselves” in the experience. Once lost, employees learn without realizing it..
The beauty of gamification is best described in this old proverb: Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand. Involve your employees in your training program. Make it interactive. Keep employees involved with strategic tactics that appeal to both their internal and external motivators, even if you aren’t ready to integrate gamification into your training just yet.
John Findlay is co-founder of Launchfire, a digital engagement shop that builds game-based eLearning programs that make training fun, addictive and effective. You can learn more about John at http://www.launchfire.com/a
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