Online Training Leaderboard Mistakes To Avoid In Your Gamification Course

Online Training Leaderboard Mistakes To Avoid In Your Gamification Course
Summary: Leaderboards keep employees on their toes and prompt them to actively engage, but the competition can quickly spiral out of control. In this article, I highlight 6 online training leaderboard mistakes to avoid in your gamification course.

6 Common Training Leaderboard Mistakes

Most online training developers naturally assume that leaderboards are foolproof, that employees will jump at the chance to compete against peers and achieve their true potential in the process. However, incorporating this game mechanic into your gamification course requires careful planning and audience research. Competition must be fair and balanced. The design must be personalized. And everyone has to know the rules of participation. These 6 common leaderboard mistakes can diminish ROI and lower engagement rates. But have no fear, because I’ll share some tips to get employees back in the game.

Online Training Leaderboard Pitfalls And Tips To Avoid Them

1. Assuming Everyone Enjoys Time In The Spotlight

Some employees shudder at the thought of competing against their peers. They may be introverts. Or they simply prefer to go it alone instead of pitting their skills and expertise against co-workers. You shouldn’t assume that every employee likes to be in the spotlight or receive public recognition for their achievements. While certain trainees prefer other pats on the back, others rely on self-praise. Give everyone the chance to opt for leaderboards or develop separate boards for every department or employment tier. This makes the experience more personal and inclusive since the competition is more contained. Staff members aren’t battling it out with the entire organization.

2. Going From Friendly To Cutthroat Competition

Many employees avoid leaderboards because they’re afraid of ‘friendly fire.’ The competition gets too steep and spills into the workplace. Which makes everyone feel uncomfortable, even those who normally relish the thought of showing off their skills. You must keep the online training leaderboard civil by building a strong sense of community. Staffers should know that the board is there to fuel motivation, not cause on-the-job conflicts. Frame the gamification course with social and collaborative learning resources that facilitate collaboration. For example, social media groups where they can share tips that help peers instead of breaking down their self-confidence.

3. Not Using Badges, Points, And Levels To Enrich The Experience

One of the biggest leaderboard mistakes is overlooking tie-in mechanics. Boards aren’t the only way to prompt active participation and track employee progress. You can also incorporate badges, points, and levels to enrich the experience and cater to diverse preferences. Some employees may want to earn badges on their own and show them off on social media. Or collect enough points to grab the grand prize, which is VIP access to the exclusive microlearning support library. You can even link leaderboards to other mechanics directly. For example, employees who score the most points move up to the top or get a spot on the "daily top performer" board.

4. Unclear Evaluation Criteria And Objectives

There are rules of engagement employees must follow to participate in the online training leaderboard. But a great deal of frustration comes from a lack of transparency. How do they move up in the ranks? How does the board connect to online training objectives and goals? What evaluation methods are in place to judge their performance and proficiency? Ensure that employees understand why there’s a leaderboard and what they must do to reach the top. This also alleviates the competition conundrum I mentioned earlier. There’s no confusion about why the #1 employees have risen to the top because everyone is aware of the evaluation criteria. They can earn the same recognition if they just try harder and acknowledge their shortcomings.

5. Not Linking Board Performance To Real-World Performance

The gamification leaderboard also serves as a diagnostic tool. Employees can monitor their growth and identify areas for improvement based on their standing. But only if the leaderboard links to practical performance. You must first determine which behaviors you want to reinforce through the board and how these relate to training objectives. Then align your evaluation criteria with real-world outcomes. For instance, employees move up a spot on the board when they improve their soft skills or tackle another certification course. These accomplishments are connected to their on-the-job productivity. Simply completing a module or activity shouldn’t warrant an increased rank. Otherwise, the board loses its merit and employees won’t see the point of participation. The staffer at the top didn’t really earn it, because the board performance has no correlation with real-world performance.

6. Using Generic Leaderboard Templates

You should use a template for your leaderboard to save time and quickly modify the design. However, one of the most grievous leaderboard mistakes is not customizing it to suit employees’ preferences and interests. It must also align with the subject matter. For example, a compliance online training leaderboard should convey a more serious tone that doesn’t make light of the core issues. Of course, leaderboard design is somewhat limited because there aren’t many "moving parts." Everything must be contained on a single screen to provide a general overview of employee standings. That said, you can adjust the font, color scheme, and graphics to make it more visually appealing. There’s also the option to embed links to employee profiles and resource recommendations. That way, trainees know where to find training activities that might advance their position and bridge the gaps.


An online training leaderboard shouldn’t push employees too far out of their comfort zone or create a hostile work environment. The goal is to facilitate knowledge sharing and monitor their performance. Not to start an all-out war that costs you top talent and compromises your brand image. Give employees the opportunity to opt-out and incorporate other mechanics to enhance the experience. You must also clarify criteria so that staffers know what’s expected of them and how to abide by the rules.

You don’t have to develop your own leaderboards in-house and start from scratch. An eLearning content provider can help you design boards that spark competition and track employee progress. Find the best company for the job using our online directory.