The Gamification of Training Done Right
Getting employees involved with training can be a challenging task for many firms. Even when the training program is simple to use and easily available, training would be the last thing employees would like to do when they are away from the work place. As James Sanders, Manager of Innovation at Deloitte Consulting puts it, “Let’s face it, for most people, on a typical Sunday morning, if given the choice between ‘Am I gonna watch ESPN, or am I gonna do some training?’ training will not win out.” While it may seem that the odds are stacked against enterprises, Deloitte is keeping itself ahead of the pack with their training program, Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA).
Conceived in 2008, the academy is an online training program for Deloitte employees as well as its clients which numbers more than 20,000 executive users. What makes Deloitte’s training program stand out compared to other similar programs is that it utilizes gamification principles to engage its target audience. Since the integration of gamification in to Deloitte Leadership Academy, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of users returning to the site each week. It has been observed that users are spending increasing amounts of time on the program while the numbers of programs completed have also increased.
The idea of rewarding badges for accomplishing tasks and ranking a users performance on a leaderboard is one of the most basic form of game mechanics. However, implementers failing to go beyond the simplicity of these two mechanics often results in poor gamification systems. It should be no surprise why Gartner believes that 80% of current gamified application will fail to achieve business objectives by 2014. However, Deloitte Leadership Academy’s gamification system goes beyond the basic principles for game mechanics. For starters, its leaderboards ranking system is customized to reflect the users ten closest competitors rather than a standard list displaying only the top ten performers. Moreover, the board is reset every seven days to renew interest among users as well offer a balanced system. Sander explains that “This seven-day reset… means that executives won’t be discouraged from using the site just because they missed a few weeks — and fell behind in scores — while on vacation or traveling for work.”
Besides the leaderboards, the Academy’s introduction provides a higher sense of engagement through its carefully crafted on-boarding process. Rather than be awarded a relatively meaningless badge for completing the simple task of signing up, DLA gradually orientates and enhances the user experience in order for them to familiarize with the system. Besides having to watch a short introductory video which explains the functions and workings of the academy, users are given the autonomy to personalize their individual learning priorities. This level of customization provides a unique sense of ownership in the users learning process which in turn enhances better learning and further engagement with the system.
While we have been delving into the effectiveness of DLA’s game mechanics, it should be noted that the training content prepared by Deloitte comes from such top tier business schools as Harvard Business Publishing, IMD, Melbourne Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Why does this matter one may ask? The goal of a training program is to facilitate the user’s development by providing them educational material as well as the right learning environment to do so. If the training content is of poor quality, the implementation of game mechanics would merely mask the truth which in turn might actually disengage users from further learning.
Although firms still face an uphill battle in engaging its workforce especially in the training field, enterprises should realize that learning to improve oneself is an innate characteristic of being human. Thus, firms play a vital role in facilitating the developments of their employees for them to achieve mastery. The proper implementation of game mechanics within an gamified system complimented with a well-designed learning content would serve a firm well as Deloitte had demonstrated.