Consistent workplace learning and development (L&D) is universally beneficial. Employers gain an advantage from having a wider range of capabilities in their workforce, while employees can boost their future earning potential and career prospects by expanding their skill sets.
Despite these incentives, HR managers sometimes find it difficult to get people involved and engaged in L&D programs. Senior members of the workforce could feel they have passed the point of having anything new to learn, while others might not have any interest in pursuing training that seems dull or distracts them from their regular responsibilities.
This is where gamification can prove advantageous. Game-playing, healthy competition and simple incentives can add a fresh dimension to your learning schemes and make the whole process more enjoyable and compelling.
Here are some of the ways you can incorporate this concept into your workplace learning:
1. Gamified onboarding
New recruit onboarding is the all-important starting point for the employer/employee relationship and a vital time as far as L&D is concerned. If additional training and skills development are required to get new hires to where you need them to be, gamification can be an effective way to support this. It can also have the added benefit of giving recruits an enjoyable start to their career with you.
One company that has gained results from this approach is Domino's Pizza, which introduced the Pizza Maker course to help new employees learn the menu and the pizza-making process. The program used tools like simulations, scores and competitive elements to motivate and incentivize workers, ultimately decreasing onboarding time for the business.
2. Progress rewards
Simple rewards like points, badges and ribbons can deliver big results when you need to provide incentives for employees and reward them for the progress they’ve made.
One common approach is to break up your overall training program into a number of separate courses or modules, with a reward available at the end of each stage. Participants can gradually build up their scores to earn bigger prizes, and all the data can be brought together into a leaderboard to add some light-hearted competition to the process.
Alternatively, you could ask employees to complete a particular task or test before proceeding to the next stage of their training. It's a simple idea that most people will be familiar with from different types of games. Despite its simplicity, it can prove highly effective.
3. Simplified learning
Gamification can be a good way to help learners get their heads around complicated or challenging subjects, which might seem intimidating if people are simply asked to sit down and study in the traditional way.
It's well known that businesses around the world are facing a growing digital skills shortage, and nurturing talent from within can be one of the most effective ways to gain the capabilities you need. People with limited experience in areas like software programming or cloud computing might find these subjects daunting, but by turning the learning process into a game, you can help your employees grasp the basics without even knowing it.
4. Social gamification
Gamification can be highly effective to help individuals learn and develop their skills, but it can also have some clear social benefits. For the same reason that people like to play online multiplayer games or gather around a table to play a board game, colleagues will be keen to share their achievements and experiences of gamified workplace learning with each other.
Internal forums, networks and social media could all be used as platforms for co-workers to have discussions and encourage each other. As well as supporting L&D, this will strengthen social connections and relationships in the workplace, which will contribute to staff satisfaction and productivity.
5. Virtual reality
If you have the resources and the inclination to provide it, virtual reality (VR) can have a huge impact on the L&D experiences you're able to deliver to your staff.
The defining characteristic of this technology that makes it so well-suited to learning is its immersive nature. Rather than asking your people to simply imagine themselves in certain scenarios, with VR you can place them in those situations and see how they respond to the sorts of challenges they'll see in their job.
Retail giant Walmart decided to make Oculus VR headsets available at all of its stores across the US after introducing the technology at its training academies.