5 Signs Your Gamification Strategy Isn't Working (And How To Fix It)

Gamification Strategy: Are You Doing It Right?
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Summary: Companies even as big as IBM and Deloitte have incorporated gamification into employee training with great results. But despite the many successful gamification examples, getting it right on the first attempt isn’t always easy.

Gamification Strategy: Are You Doing It Right?

Though not a panacea, gamification in business can be used in different settings to improve employee satisfaction and productivity. A recent TalentLMS survey, for example, demonstrates that gamification in the workplace makes employees feel more productive (89%) and happier (88%). Gamification in corporate training has a similarly positive effect, with 83% of those who receive gamified training feeling motivated. If, despite employing gamification tools, your training isn’t where you hoped it would be, it’s time to do a little investigating. The following 5 signs might indicate that your gamification strategy needs a tweak.

1. Employees Are Disengaged

Do employees sign in their courses erratically? Do they take their sweet time with training? If so, your gamification strategy has failed to deliver its biggest promise, which is to improve learner engagement. When engagement is missing, training becomes a chore, and the quality of learning diminishes. What can you do to make your gamified course more appealing so that employees come back readily and often?

One solution is to add social and collaborative elements, like a share button. When employees share their progress with their coworkers, their accomplishments feel more gratifying. And as others cheer them, they have more reason to keep up. At the same time, employees who are lagging behind are motivated to step it up. Sending a reminder when employees are close to winning a badge or reaching a new level is another effective nudge.

You can also create team challenges, during which all team members will share a reward, like a badge. Team challenges are not only fun, but also increase accountability and motivation. Have a minimum point requirement per team member so that everyone contributes.

2. Uneven Points Distribution

Naturally, some employees will advance faster than others. They might be more experienced in the training topic, or they might currently have more time to dedicate to the course. But if a “select few” conquer the top of the leaderboard while the rest of the lot is crammed at the bottom, those falling behind will lose their motivation.

To make sure everyone advances at a similar pace, try to distribute points differently. This can be done using smaller leaderboards (e.g., per department). What’s more, add gamification elements in diverse activities to encourage active participation beyond the self-paced part of the course. For example, give rewards for contributing to course discussions and collaborative assignments. This way, employees who prefer to learn in more informal settings are also acknowledged and rewarded.

3. Employees Rush Through The Course

Some employees might enjoy game mechanics more than you were aiming for. They mistake the training course for a game and focus on collecting points and gamification badges. So they just sweep through it without retaining much of the information.

Little do they know, you have tricks up your sleeves to slow them down! For starters, don’t give away badges and other rewards like they’re candy. Deduct points for wrong answers, and make employees retake a lesson if they repeatedly fail the assessment. To make sure they’re actually learning and not just “leveling up,” create complex assessments. Preferably, test practical application through simulations. Don’t allow for guessing with multiple-choice quizzes. Team assignments will also slow down your most impatient learners and temper their competitiveness, as they’ll have to collaborate with their peers before they can proceed.

Creating a well-rounded gamified course is not just about points and levels, though. You’ll need to include assessments and activities that cover individual learning needs and preferences. You’ll also need to send reminders and to monitor progress and effectiveness using reporting tools. The right gamification software, like TalentLMS, will make your job easier and your courses more exciting than ever.

4. Employees Don’t Sign Up For Your Courses

Low sign-up rates might imply that any number of things are wrong with your training. Your courses might be filled with unimaginative content or not match your employees’ skill level. But as far as your gamification strategy goes, low sign-up rates indicate that gamification is not enough to increase participation. So, consider adding a stronger incentive, like a certificate at the end of a course. You can also offer a more practical reward, like a day off or a monetary gift for top scorers. Besides, gamification is about sparking employee motivation. If intrinsic motivation isn’t there, it doesn’t hurt to tap into extrinsic.

It’s also possible that gamification itself is the problem, especially if you didn’t have participation issues in the past. Even if your employees were positive at the idea when you first introduced it, maybe gamification didn’t work for them after all. Or perhaps they had pictured it differently.

For this reason, when implementing corporate gamification for the first time, request employee feedback. Did competition indeed motivate them, or did it add to the daily pressure? Which rewards did they enjoy the most, and which could they do without? Don’t write off gamification before you see how you can better integrate it in a way that suits your employees.

5. Knowledge Retention Is Low

Another major selling point for employee gamification is better knowledge retention. Because employees are eager to make progress and achieve high scores, they study with more zest and focus. Therefore, they retain more information, faster.

But also, the very structure of a gamified course boosts knowledge retention. To unlock the next lesson, employees must collect enough points, usually by taking some sort of test. If they fail, they need to go back and reiterate the lesson. In this case, learning is enhanced through repetition. Employees should come out of the course with better skills and capabilities. If there’s no noticeable improvement in their performance, your gamification strategy is falling short.

To enhance knowledge retention, revise the way learners move through the course. Break down the course into more learning units, and always include assessments in between the lessons to trigger knowledge recall. This way, employees will solidify previous knowledge before they move on to new information.


Gamification in training promises to add flare to tedious topics and elevate your regular training to an engaging learning experience. But don’t be too fast to condemn your gamification strategy if it fails to make a difference as soon as you implement it. Seek employee feedback to find out what you can improve, take stock of your current tools and methods, and give it another go.

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