What is gamification? We’ll get to that – and why it is so good for business – in a moment. First, let’s take a step back and think about our usual staff training sessions or our stand down days. Health & safety behavioural training; Strategy or vision seminars; Culture change conversations. Do you ever find that people are falling over themselves trying to get into the room to find out what you have to say? Probably not. Let’s be honest, these messages may be essential for your staff but they can also be dry, boring and difficult to get across.
Add some sparkle
So, could gamification of your staff training be the answer? Gamification involves the use of gaming elements and techniques to make something more entertaining and, thereby, engaging for your employees. Training games construct real life scenarios and challenges in a friendly, safe-to-fail environment. Everyone knows that games are a fun and easy way to learn – that’s why so much of our children’s early learning is based around play. Gamification can add a bit of sparkle to some of our more lacklustre messages. Learning through games becomes enjoyable and, more importantly, memorable.
Unfortunately, gamification has become a real buzzword recently, leading many people to believe it’s just a flash in the pan. However, gamification is far more than just fashionable jargon or a phase that we will outgrow. Many organisations already use gamification to some extent, even if that’s not what they call it. They motivate staff with elements of competition, leader boards and performance-based rewards. Culture change or behavioural safety training may be more intangible than performance but gamification is a proven, highly successful approach to learning. Underestimate its benefits at your peril.
Benefits of gamification
It appeals to different learning styles
Not everyone (in fact, almost no one) learns by sitting in a conference room, listening to someone talk about why health and safety behaviours are important. Mark Twain described such lectures as “a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.” Gamification gives your delegates a range of ways to pick up and consolidate your important messages in an informal, hands on way. Games are also a great leveller. Everyone from the cleaning team to the CEO can participate. It breaks down barriers and allows everyone to take an active part. In turn, this means that you get a much wider range of feedback, ideas and opinions due to the diversity of your workforce.
Gamification increases employee engagement
Hands on, interactive games in a non-threatening environment lead to much greater levels of staff engagement. You are no longer telling people what they need to know. They are exploring, thinking, and finding out the information for themselves – testing different scenarios and understanding the consequences. Entertaining, exciting content is deeply satisfying and drives employee engagement. It is a brain-friendly way to learn. It makes the information interesting and compelling. The brain absorbs the information effortlessly, naturally and at a much deeper level than reading a set of PowerPoint notes.
It significantly boosts retention
This is the science bit. When we get excited about something, or achieve something new, our brains reward us with a quick hit of dopamine. Dopamine is a natural neurotransmitter found in our bodies. It makes us feel good but, more importantly, it is involved in reward, motivation, memory and attention. So the excitement of playing a game creates a natural high, if you like, and significantly increases our ability to retain what we have learned. This is not all about winning. After all, if there can only be one winner, that would seriously de-motivate everyone else. It’s about a sense of achievement, feeling that you have learned something, contributed, played your part and been part of the team. And the best part about dopamine? It is intensely motivating. It makes us want to re-create that good feeling so we thirst to find out more.
Gamification of real world scenarios
Gamification of your corporate training allows your employees to see the real world applications of the knowledge they are acquiring. Applying the lessons to practical scenarios and encouraging employees to get in there and have a go allows them to see exactly why their role is so important. They understand how their behaviours impact on everyone around them and the organisation as a whole. It can be a real light bulb moment when they see how they fit into the bigger picture. They then take this enthusiasm forward into the workplace and become ambassadors of your culture change, your vision or your behavioural safety culture.
A more cohesive workforce
Instead of all being united by a feeling of boredom, gamification of your staff training encourages participants to work as a team. They share ideas, debate, challenge each other and cooperate. Again, the engagement and retention of what they learn means that these thought processes follow through to the workplace. Individuals become a team, united in working towards group goals.
Gamification improves business performance
The bottom line is that gamification of staff training can be seriously good for business. It makes your training more engaging and, therefore, effective. Your staff learn more easily, more quickly and they retain what they have learned. They are more aware and they pull together as a team. This then leads to greater productivity, fewer accidents, less time lost. So, before you even think about your next staff training seminar, ask yourself whether you can afford not to consider gamification.
A fun and simple way to boost employee engagement
The Big Picture People understand how successful games can be in boosting learning and employee engagement. 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. Our bespoke Safety Game encourages people to engage, think about behavioural safety, understand why it matters, the contribution they themselves make, and apply the knowledge they’ve acquired. Read our case studies and find out how organisations like Allied Bakeries, Calor and Reckitt Benckiser used gamification to change the game on health and safety.
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