For a good couple of years now, people have been punting gamification as a great training method, particularly in the workspace. By applying the things usually associated with games – rules, competition, point scoring – to non-gaming contexts, they argue, employees are much more likely to absorb the information you’re trying to impart.
While it would be easy to dismiss the ideas behind gamification as another example of fad-driven management consulting, it can be incredibly effective.
According to a study from research specialists Markets to Markets, training games promote better learning outcomes and higher engagement.
In order for gamification to have a real impact, however, it needs to be implemented properly. Here are a few ideas on how to ensure that it is.
Nobody likes being forced to do something, no matter how much you promise they’ll enjoy it. That’s especially true in the workplace. It’s therefore imperative that you get the consent of your employees before embarking on any gamification project.
According to a study by Wharton management professor Ethan Mollick, employees who consent to games (as well as understanding the rules and feeling like the game is fair) are more likely to have positive feelings towards their company.
For anyone who doesn’t consent, meanwhile, having to play the game can cause negative feelings about their job and a decrease in performance.
Tell a compelling story
While it took some time for people to realise it, games are a form of story-telling. The best games suck us in and make us want to see where the story goes.
If you’re implementing gamification in your organisation, you should remember that. Give your game a story with compelling narrative thread. Allow your employees to explore that thread.
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to narrative, remember to focus on these four elements: characters, plot, tension and resolution.
Provide a challenge
The games that people go back to time and time again are the ones that provide a real and meaningful challenge.
Think about that when designing your gamification project. If the tasks you give your employees have no degree of difficulty, will they really take anything away from it?
Remember, the idea is to give them a safe space where they can work through scenarios similar to the ones they might face on a daily basis in their jobs.
Give them a physical barrier that they have to get over, character objections, or the conflict between time, budget and quality.
While the game should be challenging, you shouldn’t lean too far in the other direction. The game shouldn’t be so arduously difficult that people don’t want to participate.
Make it visual
If you really want to get your employees excited about your gamification project, it’s important that your make it as visually appealing as possible.
Pens and notepads just aren’t going to cut it. If you’re doing something in the physical space, use props, posters, and any other collateral that relates to your company.
If you’re building a digital form of communication, put real thought into the aesthetics. Remember, you’re competing with hundreds of other apps on your employees’ devices. You need to stand out.
Let your employees explore
Finally, remember what the goal of gamifcation in employee training is: providing a way for your employees to arrive at solutions to problems themselves, rather than being instructed what to do.
It’s therefore important that you give your employees the space and freedom to choose different paths and experience gameplay based on the choices they make.
This way, they can take risks, learn from mistakes, and build critical skills.
If you need help building a gamification programme for your employees, contact Engage Me here.