Gamifying Corporate Training – Five Common Pitfalls to Watch Out For

Published On: May 16th, 2022Categories: Employee Training, Training
Gamifying Corporate Training – Five Common Pitfalls to Watch Out For

Gamifying corporate training, either partially or fully, tends to make the often mundane routine a tad more interesting and engaging. The effectiveness of such gamified training programs largely depends on how suitably designers adapt gaming techniques to fulfill the training needs. Several aspects require careful consideration when using gamification in corporate training initiatives. Here are few key pitfalls to steer clear of:

  • Going overboard (with complexity, competitiveness, and rewards)
  • Compromising on the social aspect of learning
  • Rewarding the learning experience rather than performance
  • Lack of focus
  • Passive, simple game design

Gamification has managed to survive Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2011 and has a steady growth trajectory, with gamification of eLearning and training programs on the rise. While it may be tempting to follow the trend, simply trying to jump on this bandwagon without adequate knowledge or purpose won’t do any good.

Gamifying Training Programs – Problems You Tend to Overlook

The main purpose of gamifying corporate training is to persuade the learners or employees to glean valuable information and know-how that can enhance their daily operations. Even the best gamification initiatives can fall flat if program managers fail to identify and remedy these pitfalls early in the process.

1 – Going Overboard

Games are fun, absorbing, and addictive. The excitement and enthusiasm they generate are simply contagious. This is precisely why it is so easy to go overboard when gamifying learning content, especially in the areas of complexity, competition, and rewards.

  • Complexity – Creating a learning path replete with complex challenges may not be motivating or encouraging for all learners. In fact, it may create an adverse response and even erode the confidence of participants in cases where the gamified scenarios are difficult to follow or get past.
  • Competition – Making the learning experience competitive is a must for participants to stay invested in the program. However, the learning environment must nurture healthy competition, allowing participants to enhance their skills while also being open to working in teams. A highly competitive setting may foster hostility.
  • Rewards – Rewards serve to recognize and appreciate performance. They work better when used sparingly to reinforce positive learning outcomes, timely actions, and apt behavior. Learners must put in the necessary effort to achieve a specific objective and earn a reward. Rewarding participants for every small action, such as completing a lesson, may not mean anything.

2 – Compromising on the Social Aspect of Learning

The learning process is a tad more enjoyable and effective when participants work in groups. Games are no exception. Social learning is quite common in a corporate setting where employees typically work as a team. It is therefore essential for gamified learning content to include opportunities for participants to hone and share their learning experiences, just as they would in the workplace. This is particularly significant if the corporate training is conducted online.

3 – Rewarding the Learning Process Rather Than Performance

Learning or training is meaningful or successful only when participants are able to put the knowledge and skills acquired to good use. Rewarding participants for attempting or completing different parts of the training program without evaluating their capabilities tends to prove costly. This approach often encourages learners to cruise through the gamified scenarios in an attempt to collect rewards. While training program metrics may indicate high levels of engagement and successful completion, there may not be any significant changes in employee performance or productivity.

Most employees take corporate training seriously. However, there’s always the possibility of them opting for an easy way out if the training program isn’t that appealing.

4 – Lack of Focus

It is important to note that gamifying corporate training is not a universal remedy for productivity issues that may plague an organization. Gamification can, however, make a difference when addressing a specific purpose or learning objective. Weaving a realistic story or scenario and gamifying the learning path can prove to be a wasted effort if the experience doesn’t lead to a well-defined goal. The entire program must serve one or more clear requirements.

5 – Passive Game Design

Gamified learning must be too neither complex nor over-simplified. The scenarios used for corporate training need to be serious and realistic for participants to appreciate and benefit from the learning experience. Before opting for a gamified training program, it is important for corporate trainers and employers to:

  • Identify the training requirements of employees
  • Spell out the purpose, scope of training, and learning objectives
  • Ascertain the need for and feasibility of gamifying the training
  • Know their target audience (roles, skill gaps, performance metrics, etc.)

Delving into gamification without clear requirements or objectives tends to mar the user experience. While over-complicating the process can dampen the confidence and enthusiasm of learners, over-simplifying it causes them to lose interest and motivation.

Gamifying corporate training is no random task: the process needs to be carefully planned and executed to satisfy the learning needs of the participants. By steering clear of the above-mentioned pitfalls, gamified learning programs are likely to be more effective. Interestingly, they may also fall in line with the PERMA (Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment) model devised by psychologist Martin Seligman, which is often adapted to create a positive training experience.

Gamified training programs can:

  • Evoke positive emotions (confidence, fun, enthusiasm, etc.) when they aren’t too complex or confusing.
  • Be quite engaging if the design isn’t too passive
  • Build relationships and rapport if social learning isn’t overlooked
  • Be meaningful and valuable when focused on specific learning objectives.
  • Instill a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when rewards are hard-earned and the learning makes a difference in real-time

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