Training employees can seem like a bad deal all around. It costs you time and money, you might never see a return on it, and it isn’t as if your employees are particularly excited about it either. However, it’s also completely necessary, and for more than just the obvious reasons. Ill-trained employees can lead to costly mistakes on the job. Insufficient training also causes high turnover rates- 40% of employees that receive inadequate training will leave within a year. This leads to additional cost, since you’ll have to start the hiring process all over again while your current employees scramble to cover your understaffed business.
So how do you make sure that you are training your staff in the most effective and efficient way possible? Well, when efficacy and efficiency are concerned, one answer is usually a computer, and this time is no different. Gamification, giving a task game-like elements such as points, level progression, or leader boards, has already been used extensively in education. And while it certainly isn’t for everyone or every situation, it is a valuable tool that you ought to consider for employee training.
Why It Works
Gamification is properly optimized for the human brain. It breaks up information in easy-to-digest chunks, rewards good behavior, promotes goal setting, and uses our competitiveness to its (and employers’) advantage. Whenever a leaderboard is added, there is a noticeable jump in participation. Trainees want to be rewarded for their work not only through digital accolades, but also through peer recognition that they are an expert.
However, gamification works on an extremely basic level as well. Accomplishing tasks in video games delivers a small dose of dopamine to our brains, not only encouraging us to repeat the process, but makes us remember information better. Gamification takes this underlying reason for why videogames are so popular and applies it to the business world.
Where It Can Go Wrong
It is important to note that gamification is not just some magical process that will improve your training process with no effort. You will definitely have to design your training around it; you can’t just wedge it into your existing program. Trainees will not just learn from any game. There are three essential qualities that it must have: motivation, momentum, and meaning.
In order to keep trainees motivated, you have to balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. So you’ll need badges and a leaderboard. Trainees need to be competitive with themselves and their peers to get the most out of the session. If you have too much of one and not the other, then it won’t appeal to all of your trainees. Some people need to be interacting with another human being to feel motivated, whereas others just need to see their own level progress.
Trainees require a certain level of difficulty in their tasks. If it is too easy, they will become bored. If it is too difficult, they will become angry. This is reflected in a daily work day as well. If an employee is overqualified for a position, they become disinterested and resentful of being asked to do something beneath them. Likewise, if you ask an employee to do the impossible, they will be very dissatisfied and might even give up. The same is likely to happen with gamification training techniques, no matter how much fun it is.
Meaning is self-explanatory, but probably the most difficult to execute. Trainees have to understand that the game has a message and purpose behind it. If they don’t understand the link between the game and their job, then they won’t care enough to learn. However, there are no simple, laid-out steps to achieve meaning. This will take the most time to achieve, but the rewards are worth it.
Gamification is an important tool for training in the business world. While not everyone will respond positively, most will, especially when compared to current mind-numbing techniques. It uses our own brain chemistry to the advantage of your business, and that’s a much better training plan than a couple of online lectures and a pamphlet.