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How to bring gamification to your organisation

17th Mar 2014
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Is gamification still a bit mysterious to you? Vincent Belliveau gives us some easy implementation steps.

Gamification is a relatively new concept which was coined by computer programmer Nick Pelling in 2002, gaining popularity in the workplace in 2010. It is the use of game mechanics in the workplace and can include leaderboards, points, badges and achievements for employees that go the extra mile at work by exceeding sales targets and completing training courses, for example.

Gamification can support an organisation in a range of ways from ongoing learning to onboarding. In learning, gamification can be used to motivate employees by giving them 'prizes', which can range from certification to monetary reward, when they complete courses. It can also provide them with the opportunity to track what they have learnt and what they need to learn to ensure they are spending time on the most relevant training to support their progression. Gamification can also help the onboarding process. By giving employees an interactive introduction to a company, they can gain an understanding of the business culture before they join, supporting their transition.

Gamification: It’s here to stay

It is important for organisations to understand that gamification is not just another buzzword and the concept is here to stay, as it provides numerous benefits to a business. For example, Market by Markets claim that the gamification market is set to hit $5.5bn by 2018 [1], while analyst house Gartner predicts that 70% of the 2,000 largest companies in the world will deploy at least one gamified application by the end of 2014 [2]. With so many large companies embracing gamification, others need to explore its benefits and gain an understanding of how it can help them avoid being left behind.

So what has prevented some organisations from introducing gamification in the past? Of course, some companies are risk averse, preferring to stick with what they know and what has worked in the past rather than looking for new ideas. Also, there have been technology limitations. When first introduced, gamification was expensive and few LMS vendors were introducing it as part of their software packages. However, with developments in technology, this has changed and gamification has become much more accessible for organisations.

Walk before you can run

However, companies need to be pragmatic when introducing gamification, ensuring they are using it in the right way, aligning it with their business goals. In a learning context, employers should not discard tactics which have been successful for them in the past. Just like elearning, gamification needs to be introduced as part of a wider programme, complementing processes that already work well for an organisation, such as one-on-one coaching and classroom learning.

Different businesses also have different appetites for new processes and so a company’s culture should be taken into account before they are introduced. Employers should also make sure that new techniques resonate with the people in their organisation. By arranging focus groups with staff from across a company, employers can gain an understanding of whether gamification will be accepted. If they feel it is not right for their people then they need to introduce it gradually, be cautious and be progressive, implementing it when their staff are ready.

What needs to be gamified

Once staff are on board with gamification, it offers numerous benefits throughout an organisation. The first few months are critical for staff and gamification can help them settle. If a company already has a process in place which tracks information about the company and regular social activities then new staff can get a feel for a company’s culture. By making learning about a company more of an interactive adventure, new employees can get more context than they would usually be exposed to, helping them to feel engaged in their new role which is proven to increase productivity.

Gamification can also have a positive impact on an organisation’s learning processes. By tracking training and creating leader boards, and giving prizes to staff that have completed courses, learning can be made much more competitive, encouraging employees to complete courses before their colleagues. This positive peer learning and competition can increase employee uptake and completion of courses. For example, Deloitte introduced gamification into its training programmes, which resulted in employees taking 50% less time to complete courses than before its implementation [3]. The tracking aspect of gamification also enables employees to understand which courses they need to complete in order to improve their skillset and increase productivity, to the benefit of their organisation.

The business benefits of gamification

The popularity of gamification is increasing all the time, as highlighted by Gartner, and will continue to be used by organisations for the foreseeable future. When introducing the strategy, employers need to make sure their staff are ready and understand the benefits of it. In a learning environment, they also must ensure that it forms part of their wider training programme, complementing existing processes. If used in the right way, gamification can not only substantially improve a company’s onboarding process and positively impact training processes, but it can add an element of competition and even fun to the organisation. And in the current climate, engaged employees, a tighter company culture and a more competitive workforce are factors which should not be overlooked.

Vincent Belliveau is SVP and General Manager EMEA of Cornerstone OnDemand

[1] http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/gamification.asp

[2] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1844115

[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2013/07/03/how-salesforce-and-deloitte-tackle-employee-engagement-with-gamification/

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