By Daniel Morris
Daniel Morris is a Key Account Manager at Motimate. A self-confessed gamification geek, he’s responsible for helping organizations engage their people in learning, using Motimate’s mobile first learning app. Here, Daniel explores the power of gamification in digital learning, it’s potential as a strategic tool and key lessons on how to get it right.
A PWC survey, published in 2020 surveying 2,380 executives around the globe, has identified a group of companies that are performing in the top 5% of organizations. These companies see greater returns in every area as a result of significant investment in new ways of working and the value generated by digital investments.
With digital strategies increasingly becoming the mainstay of successful businesses, companies struggle to know where to focus their efforts. Investing in developing your existing workforce has time and again proven itself to be a better investment in the long-term. Recruitment is time intensive, costly and you don’t always get it right. But the speed at which employees need to learn to maintain productivity and create competitive advantage is greater than ever before.
These challenges, together with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated learning management systems and insights into learner behavior, are focusing the efforts of learning and development departments the world over. Whilst leading organizations with strong digital strategies blaze a trail in which others try to follow without getting burned, deciding how to invest in upskilling your workforce at the necessary rate can be like trying to unpick a gordian knot.
So, what are the learning tools and strategies that engage learners, help them learn fast, retain their learning, develop them and make them effective? The answer, in some part least, seems to be digital strategies that make use of gamification.
5 Aspects That Make Gamification a Fantastic Strategic Lever
- A millennial workforce is hard wired to absorb information in a more dynamic way. Traditional two-dimensional approaches to organizational learning do not get the desired results. Gamified learning requires less attention span, is more fun, engaging, motivating and proven to make learning more memorable. The personal sense of achievement experienced by learners when completing a level, earning a badge or reward makes them come back for more, embedding a culture of learning.
- A mobile phone is not just a phone, it’s a games console. When not working, people are often reading, communicating and playing games on their phones. When interacting with these devices, they are in a particular mindset in which they are already primed for reward. LMS strategies based on gamification tap into this mindset and enable users to absorb knowledge and information on-demand. In this way, learning for work becomes part of their everyday, mimicking the way in which they already interact with content outside of the workplace and enabling them to keep up with colleagues and meet targets, whatever their schedules.
- Much of the focus on gamification tends to zone in on its effectiveness as a learning tool. But gamification is also a fantastic teaching and managing tool. Successful gamified learning strategies are structured in a way that helps leaders and managers focus on desired outcomes and the goals and targets they need to set to get there. These training programs require them to understand what motivates their employees and think about the content and learning strategies and rewards that work in their specific contexts. Done right, these strategies greatly improve knowledge retention, employee retention and business outcomes.
- Gamified learning content is measurable, which means that you can see how people are performing, where the skills gaps are and understand how fast learning targets are being met.
- Gamification has proven to be effective in the recruitment process. Gamifying your content demonstrates understanding of behavior, people and how to motivate them, making you a more attractive employer to a younger workforce.
So, from the corporate perspective, gamification:
- Helps focus leadership on desired outcomes and how to engage their workforce.
- Is a tool for communicating and embedding organizational culture.
- Speeds up learning.
- Increases productivity.
- Helps drive better outcomes.
- Makes recruitment more interesting, faster and more effective.
- Helps retain employees for longer.
5 Reasons Learners Like Gamified Lessons
Psychologists reading this will know about the effects of Dopamine, a chemical reaction in humans triggered by the promise of reward. Games create competition and urgency, locking learners into a mindset that encourages faster learning, a desire for self-improvement and better performance. This mindset also makes people more productive.
From the learners’ perspective, gamification:
- Gives learning context, making it relevant
- Builds confidence, providing safety from failure
- Makes boring topics interesting and memorable
- Ranks performance, highlighting areas for development
- Enables on-demand, mobile-based learning
Gamification is as much about mindset as it is about the learning tools. It seems that we learn better and faster when we are having fun, when we are competing and are rewarded. Not much has changed since the playground after all.
5 Things We’ve Learned About Getting It Right
- Keeping it simple is a good place to start, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be carefully planned. Although the potential for gamification in the corporate context has reached new heights (think virtual reality and avatars), most companies stick to the more basic elements of points, badges, levels and leader boards, which in themselves are highly effective.
- Used correctly, gamified learning tools are highly effective for peer benchmarking, but they need to be designed and deployed carefully, to ensure that they genuinely build on each other and offer a realistic picture of individual performance. In this way, management can set meaningful learning targets and benefit from real-time feedback as those targets are achieved.
- The things that employees most want gamified are the more boring aspects of training, because these are harder to retain – areas such as software training and corporate communications, as opposed to every-day tasks. This makes it a particularly useful tool for project-based work.
- Ranked in order, the following tools constitute the top five motivational elements in gamified learning:
- It’s important to make sure that there is a clear path of progression mapped out for learners. These elements need to equate to performance within a hierarchy and not be handed out randomly, so that employees can gather meaningful feedback and benchmark their own performance against peers.
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