What is Gamification in Training?

Rachael Nemeth
Co-founder, CEO
September 11, 2022

What is Gamification?

Let's start with the basics. Gamification is the process of incorporating game elements into non-gaming processes to make them more enjoyable. It’s a way of using game thinking and game mechanics to motivate people to achieve specific learning objectives. Gamification in training can be used to make boring topics and activities more fun.

We see gamification commonly in apps, websites and even social media, but it has also started popping up more often in training programs. This guide will introduce you to what gamification is and why it’s important for your business - especially businesses that employ deskless employees. It explains how gamification can be used for training, the different types of gamification you can use, and some great examples of gamification in action.

Let's face it - training is usually boring. And trainers have used a lot of tricks to "make it memorable". Rhyming is a great example how to to make phrases stick. Gamification takes things a step further. There are modern ways to get high employee engagement with lower production costs. Case in point...


Why is Gamification Important?

The ability of employees to learn company knowledge and how to use the company’s tools is crucial to the success of any organization. Unfortunately, the process of training new employees can be extremely boring and tedious. And when employees aren't sitting at a desk all day, the rate of adoption, engagement, and retention in your training program will plummet without a level of gamification. Without it, new employees feeling unmotivated and uninspired. There are many reasons why gamification matters.

  1. First, it encourages active participation. This can be helpful if you have employees who may be disinterested or distracted during training.
  2. Gamification also encourages collaboration and socialization among learners. This can be especially beneficial if you have a very large group of people in one training session.
  3. It's inclusive. Your team has different learning levels. Gamifying your training encourages collaboration and increases the likelihood that training will stick. Read more here if you're interested.

Ok, you've read this far. Time to level up and talk about when and how to use gamification effectively in your training.

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Types of Gamification in Training

There are many types of gamification in training. Some are direct, while others are indirect. Some are more appropriate for certain topics, while others can be used in any situation. Keep in mind that these are holistic gamification approaches to training. That means that we're looking at them from a global level, rather than from a course level. If you are a course author or content creator, skip down to the next section to learn more about the specific types of games as they relate to a course.

Some examples of gamification in training include:

  • Interactive learning environment: Interactive learning environments are a modern way to keep employees engaged while they are learning. This includes a chat-based interface, or perhaps a powerpoint presentation where you can click on different items to learn more.
  • Leaderboards: Leaderboards are a popular way to incorporate a competitive element into training. Leaderboards help to create a friendly competition among employees. They can serve as a constant reminder of what employees need to do in order to move up the boards.
  • Badges can be used to recognize and award employees who have completed training and/or have demonstrated proficiency in a certain topic or skill. Badges can be displayed on employees’ digital badges.
  • Points systems: A points system is a simple way to keep track of employees’ progress and to recognize employees who have completed training. Points can be awarded for completing specific topics during training and can be used to recognize employees’ progress.
  • Virtual Currencies: Virtual currencies are a type of points system, but are normally reserved for online training environments. Virtual currencies can be used to purchase virtual items, real gifts, etc. for employees.
  • Challenge-based gamification: Challenge-based gamification is a way of using gamification to motivate employees to complete a specific task or goal. This is a subcategory of social learning. This type of gamification is normally reserved for employees who are working in teams to complete specific goals.

When to use Gamification in Training

Some people may wonder when they should use gamification in training. There are a few things you should keep in mind when determining when to use gamification in training.

  1. Consider the topic: Before you decide to use gamification in training, you should consider the topic of the training. Some topics are better suited to gamification than others. For example, topics related to company culture, company values, or soft skills are often good candidates for gamification.
  2. Consider the learners: You should also consider the learners who will be participating in the training. Some topics and topics may be more appropriate for learners of a certain age or experience level. For example, topics related to team building may be better for more experienced workers than for entry-level employees.
  3. Consider the outcomes: Not every course is created equal. Therefore, not every learning outcome is equal. Does an employee need to recite information? Complete a daily task? Communicate with a guest? Execute a special skill? These learning outcomes will help you understand what, if any, gamification is necessary in your course or program.

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Pro Tip: Leaderboards, badges, and virtual currencies are great, but only if they lead to meaningful ROI, learning outcomes in training and progress up the ladder at work.  Instead of prioritizing a leaderboard as your first gamification effort, consider an interactive learning environment that uses blended learning methods as your first step toward gamification.

How to use games in your lessons for workplace training

Keep in mind our definition of gamification: the process of incorporating game elements into non-gaming processes to make them more enjoyable. This means that you should be thinking about engagement within the course as well as the program.

Here are five ways to gamify your course:

  1. Make multiple choice questions more interesting: Yes, there are bad multiple choice questions. My favorite way to keep multiple choice questions interactive and engaging is to include negative questions. "Which of these is NOT an example of gamification?". Another example is to show a photo and then as "Which one of the following does not fit in the image?"
  2. Include a shoulder-to-shoulder element in the course: Blended learning is a style of education where employees learn online media as well as face-to-face teaching. This is a way to include live quizzes and verbal affirmation. We have seen some of our customers include Opus as a group activity at a New Restaurant Opening for example. Or see how Ford's Garage includes managers in the process.
  3. Create a peer setting: By encouraging employees who are training to go back to work and ask or speak with a coworker, you will gamify your training significantly. Peer to peer training includes a real-life interaction that cannot be replicated online. Encourage those in-person moments and witness learning come to life at work.
  4. Use a multiplayer course authoring tool: Speaking of peer-to-peer training, in order to effectively gamify your training courses, it's important for creators and content writers to collaborate with others. This helps you generate new ideas. Find an online learning platform that includes collaborative content creation where multiple people can build in a course at one time. Make sure you can leave comments for others and be in the same course at the same time with other creators.
  5. Create a theme for your quizzes: It's simple and easy to create games in your training. Consider including a gameshow host. Even including a photo of Bob Barker (remember The Price Is Right?) and with each question having Bob ask the question rather than the computer can make a difference on the level of engagement and buy-in you get from your learners

Final Words: Is Gamification Worth the Effort?

Is gamification worth the effort? Yes! First, it encourages active participation. This can be helpful if you have employees who may be uninterested or distracted during training. Gamification also encourages collaboration and socialization among learners. This can be especially beneficial if you have a very large group of people in one training session. When you use gamification in training, you can be sure that employees will be actively engaged and experience what they’ve learned.