August 16, 2021

Guide to Gamified Training

Sam Caucci

The number one challenge in today’s learning and development department continues to be getting high levels of engagement during training, onboarding or upskilling. Did you know that companies around the globe lose a whopping $13.5 million each year per 1000 employees due to training that just doesn’t stick?

On top of that, HR departments also see a critical need to continue to build skills and competencies within the workforce. Being able to do so would help enable organizations to thrive in today’s business landscape and rise above the challenges they face today. 

So, what is gamification’s place in training and how is it relevant for the workplaces of the modern-day?

Without a doubt, effective training and onboarding programs are an essential solution needed today now more than ever. In this guide, we will explore what gamified training is and how you can successfully use it in your organization to help drive high-impact employee engagement.

What is Gamification’s Role in Training?

Gamification is the application of game mechanics to a non-game situation with the goal to increase engagement, motivation and satisfaction in users. By that definition, gamified training is the practice of incorporating gaming elements or mechanics within the training process. It isn’t about adding a crossword puzzle to your training manuals. It is meant to improve learning in a way your existing training probably isn’t doing.

The game mechanics used will be decided by the designers of the game. These are elements that are plucked from video games and incorporated into training such as earning points, badges, progress bars or being on leaderboards. These mechanics help define the learning goals and they are how users will progress through the levels. 

These mechanics help shape desired player behaviours when used properly, which include course completion, tests or sharing knowledge. Gamification also helps inspire positive emotional states, such as excitement, when implemented correctly. 

Why Use Gamification?

You can’t make great choices about when and how to gamify your training if you don’t understand the “why” of it. Why should you use gamification in corporate training? Why will it enhance the employee experience in the first place?

It has to do with motivation.

There are two types of motivation which can help encourage an employee to complete your corporate training course. These are: extrinsic and intrinsic. 

Extrinsic motivators come from the outside. These can be tangible rewards, peer pressure or punishments. But, keep in mind that potential rewards motivate more than potential punishment. 

Intrinsic motivation comes from within an individual. These can be the development of skills, gaining confidence or autonomy and so on. Intrinsic motivators are more effective than extrinsic motivators because they result in a genuine interest in the content rather than having it pushed onto the individual. 

Gamification and E-Learning

Gamified e-learning is a great tool for tapping into an employees intrinsic motivators to help give them responsibility for their own learning and allowing them to choose where, when and how they complete their training. 

Users become intrinsically motivated through seeing training that will help them do their job better or will help support their personal development. Gamification adds onto this foundation of intrinsic motivation by also incorporating the possibility of social connection and by using extrinsic motivators like leaderboards and points. 

Research has shown that employees genuinely believe that gamification helps improve their purpose, productivity and happiness at work. 

There are also other reasons you should seriously consider gamified e-learning, such as:

Personalization

Personalization is an increasingly important element when it comes to employees, and gamification directly taps into feelings of personalization by putting the user in control of their progress and how they reach the end goal. 

Feedback

Games are engaging precisely because the user can make mistakes and learn from instant feedback. Mistakes offer valuable learning experiences.

Engagement

Gamification is typically brought up to address issues of engagement within a training program or any given topic. Getting gamification right will help motivate and provide incentives to users and this is what helps make learning content much more engaging. 

When implemented well, gamification can draw employees into e-learning and encourages a flow state. This is not because they are instructed to complete it, but simply because they are intrinsically motivated and drawn to be invested in it. 

How Does Gamified Training Compare to Traditional Training?

The popularity of gamification came about due to a general lack and ineffectiveness of traditional training. In most cases, training materials consist of simple text and image-based documents or modules. Then there is face-to-face training likely involving being cooped up in a room while listening to a live lecture or video. 

Plus, traditional training does not cater to the learning needs of different generations. Outdated learning formats no longer get the job done for today’s modern learner. In fact, studies have shown that gamified training is more effective and more enjoyable over traditional training. 95% of employees enjoy training that includes game-inspired elements in the work environment. And more studies prove that gamification increases learning retention up to 90%. So, the results here really speak for themselves. 

Reasons Why Gamification is So Effective

While we did mention some great statistics in support of gamification, here are a few more reasons why gamification is so successful:

Our Brains Respond Well to Gamification

Gamification is responsible for releasing neurotransmitters that help us feel happy and make learning addictive. For example, the feel-good hormone dopamine gets released each time users are rewarded for completing a specific action.

It also releases serotonin, which is linked to improving our mood. Game elements such as badges unleash this happy hormone and when users build up their collection of badges, serotonin is produced in the brain stem as they proudly reminisce on their past achievements. 

Utilizes Both Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations

Gamified training helps create a fulfilling learning environment by tapping into both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of learners. Through using game mechanics in a training environment, we can increase attention and focus on the training material. For example, earning rewards and climbing up the leaderboard help keep users engaged with their own personal learning outcomes as well as the outcomes of others on their team. Furthermore, it taps into deeper motivations in order to keep users engaged and creates more meaning behind the achievements. This results in sustained engagement overall.

Encourages Proactive Behaviors

Humans are instinctively drawn to repeating actions or behaviors that provide us with satisfaction. So game mechanics like earning points, badges, and passing levels helps to create a sense of satisfaction when training. Users will be motivated to keep repeating desired behaviors on their own. Through these behaviors, skills and information are better reinforced and retained. 

Practical Tips for Implementing Effective Gamification

So now that you are aware of all the benefits that gamified training has to offer, the next step is to understand how to implement it into your training program effectively. Here are some recommendations and tips for effectively gamifying your training.

Take Baby Steps and Avoid Cutting Corners

Rather than going all-in with a huge overhaul of your training modules, try to target a specific business area or program and use that to experiment using different approaches. Be sure that you can gather some control data, and collect more data after implementation to assess the value-added. Then, build up to more complex and widespread implementations after you learn what works. 

Focus on the Learning, Not the Game

Points and competition cannot stand alone. They must tie into behaviours and performance to be the most effective. Always establish your learning objectives first, then design the game mechanics around them. You can create a hierarchy, where points are easily attainable, but badges are more meaningful and more difficult to attain. For example, once a user demonstrates new knowledge, competence, or skills. 

Be Very Clear on the Rules and Progression

Transparency about how the game works will help keep employees engaged and motivated. Outline things like what tasks earn points, or even be detailed about what those points mean. Maybe they are used to unlock more content, or they can be exchanged for badges or rewards. What is the criteria for reaching the next level and what do rewards mean in reality? Maybe they can be used for tangible or financial benefits, or represent an accreditation of skill which opens up opportunities. 

Use a Practical Training Platform

If you’re lost on how to gamify your training from scratch, there are many gamified training platforms out there that are specially designed to help you. 

At 1Huddle, we offer cloud-based employee gamification software that can easily adapt to any employee training or gamification strategy you want to implement at your workplace. You can customize your content for a seamless experience and all of your employees will be able to access their training anywhere, anytime and at the push of a button. You can use our game platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your gamification strategy next. 

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Request a demo today.

Sam Caucci Founder & CEO at 1Huddle