Elements of Gamification in Workplace Training

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What elements of gamification in workplace training are you currently using? Are you using any at all? Well, if not, please allow me to point some of these out and to explain why you really should. First, gamification is quickly gaining approval from even the most old fashioned business and training analysts and consultants out there, who a few years ago would have dismissed it as a childish concept not worthy of serious business. This is just over the course of a couple years that this shift in paradigm from a “foolish” concept to that of a legitimate and highly applied socio-business strategy for training and the workplace has occurred. That in and of itself should say something about this concept, in an environment where the trappings of old ideals are hard to shed and progress to new ideas can be turbulent at best. So, what is gamification in a nutshell? We’ve talked about this before, but a brief recap on what it is by definition would make this easier to discuss. For more Training Station articles on gamification in learning and development, please click here, here and finally, here. Gamification is a general practice in training and the workplace to encourage employee or student engagement. It does this by representing the learning or work as a series of enjoyable challenges rather than required drudgery. This is accomplished by unitizing the work or learning flow as a series of steps to a gained level, skill, or achievement, just as modern progressive gaming does. These achievements may also bring rewards or new privileges, depending on the company applying this. This sounds like a simple way to say “let’s make a game of it”, and … well yes, that’s exactly what it is. But it’s done with precision. Understanding the science behind game design, not from programming but from logic and concept, is a start. Then, applying this to business or training logic, and it can become apparent how to legitimately make a proper, productive and balanced game out of the task at hand that ensures its perfect completion, as well as the process being far more pleasant for it. So, now let’s look at the basic elements of gamification, which works great for work but seems almost designed for training first and foremost. First, in organizational learning environments, there are two levels of play happening simultaneously. This basically makes it a collective co-op game, for those familiar with gameplay forms. First, there is the individual. The individual identity, goals and tasks. One of the goals and tasks should be ensuring the group goals and tasks as well, which we’ll get to in a moment. During play, the individual will attempt to obtain achievements, levels and skills of their own accomplishment. Rewards be they just the abstract achievement or the granting of something tangible. Individual units may also be given optional chances to compete for better rewards or progress. This is the showing of practical application of the new skills, in a gamified scenario of the instructor’s design and choosing. It means being cautious, with not letting rivalries become too real, though. This is best implemented by making sure the loser gets a lesser (but not drastically so) reward as well for proving some competence. Taking this a step higher, you can also work this into the team directives, which is excellent for organizational learning. Set team goals where all members of the team reach a certain personal level, and rewards will be given to the team as a whole. Accomplishments be they abstract or tangible are once more up to you. This will promote teamwork and the urge for individuals to work cooperatively and help one another as well. Some would argue that taking the game design as far as premise settings and other gaming elements may be unnecessary, but why not try this? Why not go all out and make this as legitimate of a productive gaming experience as possible? These are just some base elements of gamification  in the workplace, and as you can see, this will greatly improve training as an experience and an effective tool. more relevant information is available on gamification examples page. It’s time the naysayers give up.
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog