How To Make Corporate eLearning Fun: 3 Gamification Examples
Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven explained it neatly: “Everybody raise your hand. Now raise it a little higher. Take that same idea and wrap it around a sales behavior, service behavior, whatever it may be, and that’s the idea [of gamification] right there.” Essentially the objective is to bring game like thinking and behavior into the learning of traditional corporate roles and tasks. Why? Well to make the course more engaging and more fun. It obviously works – a TalentLMS survey found that 79% participants believed they would be more productive and motivated if presented with more game-like learning environments. That belief translates into better outcomes too – a UC Denver study had learners scoring 14% higher after undergoing gamified eLearning courses.
That being settled, the question is what gamification elements would work in the corporate eLearning context? Traditionally the gamification elements have included points, challenges or recognition badges, levels, timed activities, instant and ongoing feedback, and stories and characters. But what works? The TalentLMS survey on gamification we mentioned above has some useful pointers on the preferences of learners. They ranked progression across levels, point scoring, real time performance feedback, progress bars, and activity feeds as being the most useful to their learning. The wannabe game designers among us are probably already getting ideas! To them, it would be useful to point out that the gamification should exist to support the learning and not the other way around – in other words, the game elements are useful to incorporate if they reinforce the right learning and working behavior. Dave McDermott, Director of Sales Enablement at Kelly Services, has said in agreement: “To me, gamification is finding the way to incent the behaviors that you want your team to have.”
Having dealt with the What, Why, and How of gamification in corporate eLearning, let us look at some popular gamification examples of how this has been done:
- McDonald’s Till Training.
This is a much-quoted example. When the big Mac wanted to train their staff on a new cash register and ordering system, they turned to a game complete with scores, challenges, timers, and feedback. Employees could learn in an environment that could approximate their real work situation while still having the comfort that this was a game and that failing at a task was allowed. The word is that a revenue impact to the tune of GBP 23 Million was attributed to the success of the game. So the next time the staff at a McDonald’s gets your order right, remember the serious play that has gone into that activity.
- Virtual Reality House.
This is an interesting example where tradesmen-in-training can practice their home repair skills in a simulated environment with all the details of the real thing, but none of the bashed thumbs or gushing pipes. There are different levels with varying complexity of problems and the opportunity to practice as much as needed. The idea is to let them try their hand at the game in a context where making a mistake is not quite as catastrophic – letting them move to the practical world after a shot at the virtual world helps them learn faster.
- WalMart’s Safety Education Program.
This program was huge in scope – over 75000 workers using the game based approach to get more attuned to the safety and compliance procedures. The program was delivered in short, sharp bite sized chunks, and workers got points as they went. The workers could choose levels and learn at their pace. The results were quite dramatic - after 6 months, WalMost reported lost time cut by over 50%, and below industry average incidents.
It seems the evidence is growing about the effectiveness of gamification in corporate eLearning programs. Another way to look at it though is that gamification is just a tool, to be used wisely. Everything that can help drive better outcomes… Right? Or as Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven (yes him again) said, “It’s not about gamifying. It’s about driving revenue, saving costs and making people more efficient”.