Gamification has been labelled both a useful innovation and an ineffective fad. But where and how is it actually being used?
While most of us are familiar with frequent flyer points programs and have at some point tried a fitness app, the concept of gamification in workplace learning and development has been around for sometime but has nowhere near the same adoption rate.
Gamification programs often consist of points, badges and leaderboards, but it can also include anything from wearable technology to virtual reality. Its value lies in it being social and ‘fun’, which spurs on healthy competition and can lead to positive behavioural changes.
A problem it often runs into is that the game element is superficial rather than meaningful, and so doesn’t actually motivate staff. But there are some companies that are using it right.
‘Scaffolded’ learning is a must
The Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis has rolled out gamification programs on mobile devices to make its staff more familiar with the company’s values and behaviours, as well as upscaling learning opportunities and boosting product knowledge across its global salesforce.
The gamification techniques used by Novartis include leaderboards and ‘scaffolded’ learning, whereby challenges become more difficult over time. Increasing the challenge is key to maintaining engagement among staff: once a user becomes highly familiar with the content, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain their interest in it.
The gamification program at Novartis reflects specific business challenges and participants can customise their learning experiences, which aims to boost engagement through self-learning and virtual classrooms.
Take up networking a notch
It’s also possible to gamify a development opportunity such as a networking event or conference. In January, Adweek reported that in the United States, a company called Klik has produced badge-style wearable technology. Using location-centric features that tracks attendance and interactions at booths and conference sessions, it aims to encourage better networking and learning and decrease the likelihood of passive participation.
In addition to ‘checking in’ and ‘liking’ actual event locations, employers can create points-based challenges that require either a specific business task or a quiz to be completed, with reward systems driving engagement.
Encouraging learning through likes, follows and timelines
Vodafone introduced gamification in 2014 to encourage its staff to take ownership of their learning and collaborate with other colleagues through the social elements off the app. Specifically, the aim was to get learners to enrol themselves in learning programs, rather than being prompted to do so by Vodafone. Once enrolled, learners received points and badges and exportable learning histories that they could take to their performance reviews. Users could also rate and comment on learning challenges and follow other learners.
Rather than simply presenting a list of tasks to check off, learners had a ‘What’s Happening’ timeline (similar to Facebook) that showed learning activities completed by the colleagues they were following. This was a subtle ‘peer pressure’ driver to learning.
Ultimately, with engagement boosted and staff feeling developed and supported, the program was designed to decrease turnover levels at its retail stores.
Vodafone and Kineo reported that course completions have increased year-on-year since 2014 and last year, the companies won Platinum for Best Learning Management Solution deployment at the LearnX Awards.
Gamification for nutrition in the South Pacific
An educational program containing gamification elements is being rolled out in the South Pacific. Its purpose is to restore pride in traditional diets and address malnutrition issues in a region the World Health Organisation has described as having the world’s highest rates of obesity. The program was first reported last month by HuffPost. It aims to reinforce positive behaviour change through the use of virtual reality technology, and was co-designed and funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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