Employee training experts constantly search out new techniques to enliven sessions and, more generally, improve knowledge retention. According to Forbes, these industry mavens have found their next instructional fixation: gamification.
Gamified training techniques enable employees to engage with relatively mundane material using games or other competitive exercises. Proponents argue that this methodology not only makes training more fun but also improves retention and benefits individuals with all learning styles.
Making workplace training fun
Many link the idea to famous entrepreneur Walt Disney, reported eLearning Industry. The theme park creator sought to strike a balance between fun and educational when building his attractions. With the concurrent rise of mobile applications and online learning, this long-pondered notion came to the fore and wiggled its way into the education industry and, finally, the corporate training sector.
Recently, a variety of companies have adopted gamified training solutions. Tech giant Cisco implemented a specialized social media training program that features three levels of certification. Of course, employees reach these thresholds by completing a variety of challenges. Over 650 employees opted into and completed the training.
Professional services company Deloitte Consulting also added gamified elements to its executive training course, reported The Harvard Business Review. After successfully completing sessions, participants are awards badges and individual scores are tallied on a public leader board. The training program boosted engagement and cut certification time by 50 percent.
Executives at the company made the switch to gamification when they realized most employees were actively avoiding training courses, no matter what organizational improvements they made.
“Training is a funny thing,” James Sanders, manager of innovation for Deloitte, told the publication. “No matter how easy you make it to access, or how brilliant the learning programs are, training is simply not the first thing people think of doing when they have some free time.”
Many organizations have followed Deloitte’s lead and offer similar, gamified training programs. In fact, in a 2013 survey of over 500 human resources conducted by the American Society for Training & Development, 25 percent of respondents said their business employed some sort of gamified training solution.
Game-changer or gimmick
Some in the human resources industry find the rise of gamification problematic and believe its benefits are overstated, reported Entrepreneur. And, according to Fast Company, others say badly implemented gamification could be a recipe for workplace disaster. Simply adding some fun elements to training doesn’t necessarily make the material more engaging. Plus, over competitive environments could cause interpersonal issues.
For instance, software company SAP SE has long facilitated a gamified training process. And, though it works to some extent, the program has dredged up conflict.
Getting in on the game
Individuals across the globe spend an estimated 3 billion hours per week playing video games, reported Forbes. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why gamification has taken hold. Plus, who doesn’t want to have fun at work?
As the trend continues to tighten its hold on the human resources industry, business owners will surely look into adopting gamified training systems. If you plan to implement such a system, make sure to keep a few key guidelines in mind.
Go all in. First, you must integrate your training into the everyday business and fully embrace the idea of gamification. Shoddy or isolated systems are bound to collapse or fall out of favor with personnel.
Keep it short. Businesses should also pay close attention session length. Keep in mind that gamified exercises work when delivered in short bursts.
And, most importantly, set realistic goals. Gamification doesn’t work for all work cultures so be prepared to walk away.
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