It is evident that eLearning methods are superior to traditional training in areas like consistency, time and cost saving, and performance tracking. But that does not mean that any eLearning course will be an effective way of teaching a skill.
Whether employees are learning in a traditional setting or via an eLearning platform, there is no guarantee that they’ll be engaged with the material. If the course is mostly focused on the students absorbing information, rather than actually learning and using the desired skills, employees may not be able to replicate those skills in the job setting. And even the best eLearning training courses can be less than effective if employees are lacking the requisite motivation.
A way to ensure learners are engaged with and motivated to complete the material is to use gamification in training courses. Gamification is most often defined as the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications. As it pertains to companies and organizations, the non-game application can be innovation, leadership, marketing, or employee skills training. A 2011 study by Gartner predicted that 50% of organizations would gamify innovation processes by 2015.
Gamification has shown favorable results recently. According to a report in Training Magazine, organizations such as Merck, Sharp & Dohme; Sandoz; and Kellogg are finding that employees approach gamified training with greater enthusiasm and motivation and complete the training with more confidence in their learned skills. The competitive nature of gamification means that skills are applied more in training and thus are more likely to be successfully applied on the job.
Companies are not just using gamification to increase employee engagement. A recent Forbes article highlighted how NTT DATA and Deloitte are using gamification to help develop better leaders. It is especially effective for this type of training due to the importance of experience gained from the gamified training. According to Imrad Sayeed, CTO at NTT DATA, “we believe Leadership cannot be taught, it has to be experienced.”
Deloitte has used motivation in the form of achievement badges in their leadership training. Results have shown an increase in users returning to the site, and competition for leaderboard position has motivated many Deloitte employees to spend more time with the program. NTT DATA’s gamified training program focuses on developing 5 key skills for leadership: negotiation, communication, time management, change management and problem solving. 70 leaders have completed the NTT program, leading to hundreds of proposed new ideas that have helped increase revenue, reduce recruitment costs, and increase employee satisfaction.
Gamification is not a blanket solution to training problems, especially if content is not applicable to a gaming process or the employees can’t easily adapt to the gaming platform. It is vital to establish a clear strategy and an environment that enables employees to succeed. If implemented appropriately and effectively, however, gamification is a proven way to increase engagement and motivation, give employees valuable experience, and develop better leaders.