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Taking Learning To The Next Level With Gamification

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Taking Learning To The Next Level With Gamification

Written on Jun 22, 2017 3:36:20 PM, by Ilie Ghiciuc

How does your business motivate employees during training and development processes?

Often, businesses assume that employees will be motivated to learn because doing so will positively impact their job performance. Sometimes, this assumption proves true: there are people out there who derive plenty of satisfaction from their own self-improvement.

However, when it comes to employee learning—either in training and onboarding situations or as part of ongoing development—the subject at hand is often complex and sometimes overwhelming. In these situations, it can be necessary for employers to motivate their team members in a different way.

Also read: Why Learning And Engagement Are Inseparable

Gamification is the perfect solution

The Reasoning Behind Gamification

Over the past few years, “gamification” has become one of the most popular buzzwords in the business world. Many employers still view the concept as just that: a buzzword, a fad bound to burn itself out sooner rather than later. However, the truth is that the concept of gamification has been around for decades.

Think about video games: people don’t spend hours playing video games just because they are entertaining. On the contrary, what keeps most players coming back to their favorite games is the promise of rewards: new worlds and levels to explore; new weapons or items to use in the game; or more points to contribute to a leaderboard position. All these rewards are gamification, in that they motivate players to keep trying until they achieve specific goals.

Gamification in Employee Training and Learning

Gamification can add motivation and fun to your business’s learning management strategy. By setting up a system of goals and rewards, you create an environment in which employees view training and learning as fun.

Often, businesses will experience difficulties in the training process because employees end up feeling lost, confused, overwhelmed, stressed out, or under extreme pressure. In school, most of us were conditioned to associate these kinds of negative feelings with learning. The “master the material or fail the class” threat was ever-present. In the workplace, where the stakes are even higher, it’s natural for learning to continue being a source of dread.

Also read: The Future Of Your Organization Is In Its Culture Of Learning

Gamification helps make workplace learning feel more like a video game and less like school. In doing so, it helps make training and ongoing learning opportunities feel more inviting for most employees. Sure, the importance of the skills and knowledge being imparted in workplace learning processes is still high: employees will need to use what they learn to become more effective and valuable parts of the company. However, gamification makes the whole learning process seem less serious and less demanding, which helps fight the negative emotions many employees associate with learning.

Getting More out of Your Employee Training with Gamification and Competition

Gamification isn’t just a valuable way to make employees feel more at-ease with workplace training and learning processes. By gamifying your learning management system, you can get more out of employee learning and development. Gamification can help with everything from comprehension of key concepts to information retention—all by sparking a different kind of motivation in your employees.

A big part of the reason that gamification works for employee learning is competition. In certain situations, you can use a gamified training system to show employees how they are doing compared to other members of the organization. This friendly competition can push employees toward mastery faster than they can push themselves. It can also be a helpful benchmark for performance and feedback, letting employees see where they are making mistakes and how they can improve.

Competition can create a sense of accomplishment and contentment that the simple acquisition of knowledge can’t. Say you have a system in which employees can earn badges for gaining new skills, or perhaps even win medals for being the best at something. These awards recognize and single out employees for their accomplishments. Being recognized for something you did well always feels good, no matter how minor the accomplishment. Employees will chase that rush of accomplishment and pride that comes with earning recognition through your gamification system. This drive—to learn more skills, to learn faster, or to be the best—will rapidly instill an atmosphere in your business in which learning is embraced, celebrated, and sought after.

Using Gamification to Drive Collaborative Learning

The transparency of gamification in the workplace—being able to see everyone else’s accomplishments and progress—can drive learning in collaborative projects. When team members are brought together to accomplish a shared mission, there is huge potential for knowledge sharing and development. Particularly in cross-departmental project groups, each person is going to bring his or her own set of skills and abilities to the table.

Also read: Learn Smarter, not Harder: The Benefits of Social Learning

Too often, team projects end up divided and siloed. Each person takes on the part of the project that corresponds to their specialty. The project is then brought together at the eleventh hour and assembled from its disparate parts to make something complete. This method accomplishes the primary goal of checking off the task, but it doesn’t unlock collaborative employee learning potential.

Gamification can alter this narrative, both by providing a clearer picture of what each person is contributing to the project and by fostering a company-wide thirst for learning and knowledge. In a transparent gamified system, no employee can coast on the efforts of his or her team members, which leads to tighter-knit collaboration and greater engagement across the board. Furthermore, when everyone is chasing new skills, goals, accomplishments, and rewards, there is a higher perceived value for knowledge sharing within groups and teams. Said another way, gamification can create an environment in which employees aren’t just learning from their supervisors or trainers, but from each other as well.

Conclusion

All gamification processes are different, and you will have to decide what works best for your organization. Some businesses create gamified systems that involve everyone in the organization, really emphasizing the competitive side. Other companies find that it works better to create extremely personalized gamified systems, to help foster growth and goal achievement for each individual employee. Whichever system you choose, gamification will help you to make learning fun again for your employees, leading to substantial dividends for your business.

 How Technology Enables Continuous Learning: Learning and Development Trends [Free eBook]

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Ilie Ghiciuc
I've been an entrepreneur for the past 10+ years building great software companies together with fantastic teams. I like to spend most of my free time reading :)
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