Corporate or industrial training doesn’t have to be a dry, lecture or laboratory based exercise that sends trainees to sleep, doesn’t impart the skills or knowledge it’s intended to, and effectively wastes every resource poured into it. This is where gamification business training comes in.
In fact, numerous studies indicate that learning is enhanced when trainees enjoy what they’re doing, and are motivated to pursue an exercise to its designed conclusion. An effective way of ensuring this is through gamification.
What’s Gamification For Business Training?
Gamification is the inclusion of game mechanics, game tools, and game thinking into environments not traditionally associated with games – such as the corporate training arena. It’s a technique used to motivate the participants, promote competitiveness, increase engagement and knowledge retention, and to generally make the proceedings more fun.
Is It Necessary?
In a word: Yes – if it’s done correctly.
Consider these woeful statistics: Research into corporate training suggests that, with little or no follow-up activities to reinforce the learning, 90% of skills supposedly acquired during training are lost, within a year. With companies across the globe spending over $130 billion annually on corporate training, a 10% retention rate represents an abysmal return on their investments.
An approach that can help turn these figures on their heads can only be a benefit. So here’s how to get the most out of your gamification enhanced training.
THE GAME MECHANICS
It helps if there’s an identifiable goal or target to achieve, as a result of participating in a game-based environment. This goal should be something solidly in keeping with your learning objectives for each particular exercise, and the means of achieving it should be consistent with the game scenario you have set up.
The entire framework of the training environment should be constructed in line with your organisation’s own working methods and business objectives. If the goals of your business match the goals set within your gaming strategy, the training should have a more beneficial effect.
Master, and Move On
One of the great things about computer games is that they’re self-pacing. You can save your progress at any point, stop, go, or repeat. Typically, you’ll start with a given number of “lives” – perhaps with the option to earn more of them, through good performance in the game. So if you fail at a particular exercise the first time, you’ll get a second, third, or fourth chance to try it again.
There are usually “levels”, as well. So having completed a certain number of tasks or gained a certain number of points at a particular stage, you earn the right to ascend to a higher level – where the challenges become more difficult, but can be mastered if you use the skills gained from the previous levels.
This approach can be translated directly into the structure of a game-based training environment. Trainees may be assigned a maximum number of attempts at learning a skill or completing an exercise, with promotion to a higher level of challenges once they’ve done so. This provides some of the momentum needed to keep learners forging ahead.
Give Relevant Rewards
As well as the challenge itself, the sense of achievement trainees get from having passed a certain milestone should be reinforced and celebrated in the form of some kind of reward. Within the game itself, there are several methods typically used for this: points scores, positions on a leader-board, certificates, extra “lives”, etc.
Since the game-based training is an extension of corporate policy, the scoring and rewards system should be designed to reflect this. And rewards earned within the game may even be carried over into the real world in the form of tangible prizes or benefits.
Look Beyond The Matrix
You’ll need to create links between achievements in the training environment and activities in the real world. The game elements themselves should be designed with the day to day activities of your business in mind, and achievements in the real world may be integrated back into the game – e.g. by allowing trainees to gain a certain number of points, or move to a higher level if their on the job performance hits a certain mark.
THE ENVIRONMENT SETTINGS
Virtual reproductions of actual working environments are a powerful medium for simulating conditions that may be met on the job. This technique has been used for decades by the military, and is especially suitable for recruitment purposes.
Getting workers involved in activities beyond the narrow remit of their jobs is the aim of this type of gaming environment. Rewards are given for taking part in specified activities “outside the office”, such as tuning into podcasts, attending mixers, or engaging with others on social media.
Treasure hunts, solving mysteries, or applying lateral thinking to real-world problems may be used as a basis to promote innovation and “outside the box” solutions to issues relevant to the business. Rewards should of course be given to those who meet the challenges posed.
THE GLOBAL VIEW
Set Your Own Framework
Your organisation’s particular circumstances, mission, working methods and business objectives should be the parameters around which any gamified training environment is based. Even if you hire an outside consultant to design the gaming elements, your own input in the design process is critical to maintaining the training programme’s integrity as a tool for developing your own business.
Motivate Your Learners
The ideal is to create a corporate training environment in which trainees are keen to participate, and achieve. Competition is a great motivator, but remember that not everyone is outgoing, or has the instinct to compete. For some, the competition is an internal one, with satisfaction being derived from learning new skills, improving on past mistakes, and taking themselves to a higher level.
Reward systems should also be positive, rather than punitive. This should be an additive path, so don’t dock points for failing to complete an exercise; suggest an alternative path, instead.
Make it Adaptable
If properly designed, a gamified corporate training platform can be a tool that evolves and grows over several years. New modules may be added as business conditions change (new product lines, new services, new skills to master). Taking a “micro-learning” approach may assist in this, with training exercises packaged as short modules that may be plugged together in varying sequences as conditions dictate.
Put The Fun In
Don’t lose sight of the entertainment factor, in your bid to push the company line. Trainees will participate more willingly and take in a lot more, if they’re enjoying the exercise and are engaged and motivated by it. And if you’re prepared to laugh at yourself a little, this could go a long way in humanising the organisation to your people, and drawing them in.