Does gamification work for everyone?

20 September, 2021
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The simple answer to the question “does gamification work for everyone?” is yes, it does. Compared with traditional communications and training methods, the gamification of any form of comms and training is proven to increase the impact and retention of your messages at all levels within an organisation. From frontline staff to C-Suite executives, games provide a level playing field where everyone can participate as equals and become an integral part of whatever change you are wanting to communicate and embed.

Why does gamification work? Games are fun

As we all know, games are all about fun and, to put it bluntly, fun sells. Advertisers, brilliant teachers and successful leaders know this. Why isn’t pizza advertised by someone in a grey suit pointing at a graph? Because it’s not fun. It does not engage the target audience and it will never influence hearts and minds. Gamification of training, making it fun, improves its impact and increases engagement, retention and sharing of information. US studies have shown that viewers of humorous news shows such as The Daily Show exhibited higher retention of news facts than those who got their news from newspapers, TV or radio. Who’d have thought?

Does gamification work in all industries? Maybe you’re thinking that yours is a serious business. How can you expect others to respect your authority if you are mucking around playing games? The truth is, staff training is so often turgid, dull and far too serious and the messages just don’t stick. Fun is one of the most under-used tools in education and training. We’ve talked before about gamification and how it makes the mundane memorable. Fun activates the brain’s dopamine reward system. It releases a powerful hit of dopamine, making us feel happy and content – something our brains are desperate to keep repeating. This is true whoever and wherever you are in an organisation. The brain then attaches great importance to anything learned during this time, even when the subject matter may be quite dull and boring. You associate it with the pleasant feelings of the dopamine high. So, you learn more quickly, effortlessly and naturally. What’s more, your brain remembers what it’s learned. Gamification is a brain-friendly way of learning and taking in information.

Gamification breaks down barriers

Traditional communication and training methods often rely on one person or a small group imparting information to a larger group. There is usually the opportunity to ask or answer questions – but how often have you found that it’s only the same few people who will speak up? Our willingness to participate shuts down in response to the real or imagined derision of those around us. No one wants to feel foolish in front of their peers or bosses. One of the greatest side effects of gamification and having fun is that we laugh. When we laugh we relax and, as anxiety decreases, fear of failure is reduced because there is no risk involved. Gamification of staff training encourages everyone to test real-life scenarios where there are no wrong answers, simply ways of exploring the consequences of various actions. At the same time, we learn from mistakes and correct them. There is a continuous mentality of improvement and development.

Gamification of any form of staff communication – whether it’s about behavioural safety, culture and values or implementing change – works across the board and for all learning and thinking styles. It offers a range of ways to interact, to learn important messages and consolidate that knowledge in a friendly, non-threatening environment. People have the opportunity to open up and display their own personality in non-intrusive ways. This is essential if you ever hope to include quiet or shy individuals. Adding gamification to your employee communications helps them develop their sense of individuality, leading to greater self-esteem, a feeling of being noticed and of being included. It helps build resilience, self confidence and a willingness to speak out.

Gamification grabs your attention

It is impossible to fall asleep when you are laughing, smiling or quietly having fun. Your muscles contract, heart and pulse rates increase, and you breathe faster, taking in more oxygen. Think of it as a workout for your insides. This leads to heightened awareness and a much more attentive audience, something that can rarely be said of a Powerpoint presentation, especially where the material is a little dry. This heightened attention allows everyone, no matter who they are, to expand their thinking and associate ideas more freely. The increased energy in the room means that brainstorming and collaboration happen more naturally.

Games are great for team building

We all accept the social value of a long-standing poker night or regular 5-a-side football practice. You may never have thought of them as team building exercises but that is, in effect, what they are. Playing games often mirrors the sort of interactions that help us work better together in the first place, such as aiming for mutual goals, allocating shared resources, negotiating task ownership and collaborating to solve problems. All of these things develop a sense of cooperation and team spirit, helping to develop problem-solving skills and boosting self confidence.

Doing something fun with colleagues where there is no ‘Us and Them’ is great for morale. You are interacting in a different space. Staff see a more relaxed, informal side of management. Managers learn far more about what makes their team tick than they would in a normal work setting. Building strong interpersonal connections is an important part of teamwork. We are much more willing to listen to messages when we feel connected to the messenger and the rest of the group. On top of that, the more you can get the group to work things out for themselves, the more likely they are to accept the changes. We are all more likely to engage with something if we feel we played a part in its creation.

The benefits of gamification

  • Games bring people together and strengthen relationships
  • They break down the Us and Them barrier
  • Gamification increases brain function, knowledge acquisition and retention
  • Messages are learned in a challenging but stress-free way
  • Gamification leads to better creativity and brainstorming
  • It allows shy and quieter members of staff to fully participate

Add gamification to your Big Picture

The Big Picture People understand how games can bring organisations together. We have over 20 years’ experience and expertise in the world of gamification. We specialise in tailor-made, interactive games for organisations around the world. Our visual communications tools are designed to get employees at all levels talking to each other. The games prompt deep strategic thinking, discussion and resolution while everyone learns from each other. The process is fun and competitive, breaking down barriers and allowing everyone to join in.

Book a free 30 minute call with us and find out how gamification of your staff training could work across your whole organisation.

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