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Allison Howard
Posted by Allison Howard

As the go-to marketing specialist for AirClass by Lenovo Software, Allison Howard oversees everything from analytics to events to social media — and somehow still has energy for competitive racing, traveling and putting her interior design skills to work. Current addictions include coffee, cooking and spoiling a cuddly Miki dog named Pepper Jack.

By now, you’ve likely heard about gamification in the workplace. Adweek included it among a list of tools “every office should use in 2018," while companies such as Walmart are using it to train employees.

But what is gamification, and why is it gaining so much momentum? What does it involve? Can any corporate training program be “gamified,” or is it for big budgets only?

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We decided to take a closer look at each of these questions… 

What Gamification Looks Like in the Workplace —and What It Isn’t

In the workplace, gamification can take many different forms. It might involve developing an immersive experience through a website, app or 3D experience. Many times, this is the best method. For example, when Lenovo Software created a 3D experience to demo its solutions, Gartner Symposium leads increased 350%.

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Often, however, gamification might mean you simply take course content and turn it into a game-like experience that adds context through stories, themes, activities, goals and feedback. It’s a highly effective way to provide inspiration...even when the tasks themselves are monotonous. Industry experts say that gamification is proving to be an excellent method for driving engagement, motivation, and performance for the overall benefit of a company.

Successful business team with arms up at the office

At its core, the concept of gamification in training is more about method than technology: By redesigning the way training materials are delivered, you can tap into a person’s natural love of competition, sense of pride and desire for rewards. This, in turn, provides participants with an opportunity to internalize what they’re learning.

And you don’t need a big budget to accomplish that. Something as simple as a weekly virtual trivia game can be highly effective at increasing collaboration and engagement. You can pose a question, invite people to submit answers and offer a small prize.

That’s exactly what Harvey Health does every Friday and, according to one of the company’s co-founders, this “very small and inexpensive ritual” is one that people love.

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Gamification in the Workplace: Who Needs It?

With today's attention spans at an all-time low, it can seem practically impossible to engage employees in the virtual classroom.

This is precisely what makes gamification in the workplace so effective. Rather than sitting through a presentation, employees become fully immersed in an experience. By leveraging intrinsic motivators, gamification helps employees gain a sense of mastery as they develop new skills, improve performance or learn something new.

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Namely, gamification allows you to: 

  • Introduce microlearning: Virtual training expert Cindy Huggett often encourages corporate trainers to divide longer training sessions into a series of smaller, more interactive components. Gamification allows you to deliver information in the form of bite-sized learning materials like simulations and quizzes, which make it easier to absorb information.
  • Infuse stories: Storytelling is a critical component of virtual training. And with games, you can introduce a plot, scene, characters, and resolution that provide context and help participants remember details.
  • Create feedback loops: Think of it this way: When you play Pac Man, the number of dots left to be eaten shows you exactly how you’re doing. When applied to corporate training games, this real-time performance feedback motivates employees to self-correct, fix performance and ultimately make adjustments that lead them to the feeling of a job well done.

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What about you? How does your corporate training program use gamification to improve learning outcomes? This is one trend we’ll be closely watching here at AirClass, and we’d love to hear your stories on Twitter

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