Employee engagement: Are you game for it?

Gaming, or games, has been an integral part of daily life since the beginning of civilization. They have served various purposes ranging from recreation, competition, team building, bonding, and commercial enterprise.

The science of gaming has been successfully applied to non-game or serious situations. Gamification, as it is popularly known, is a combination of game-thinking, aesthetics, and mechanics to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, or solve problems.

But the question on the mind of a corporate decision-maker is: Can games be used effectively in the business world? The good news: Research shows that when games are designed to meet specific learning objectives and relate back to the learner’s job, they can be highly effective and sustainable.

Gartner Group predicts that by 2014, more than 70 percent of global 2,000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application, which can range from mastering a specific skill or improving one’s health.

The growing interest in gamification is fueled by a desire to increase employee engagement and bring more visibility, openness and a system of rewards and recognition into the workplace.

Just what qualities of game-thinking are applicable to the business world? Here are five of them to begin with:

Games can increase engagement and instill a better attitude towards learning.

Does the word “training” elicit moans and groans from your learners? Games provide a level of excitement that can change this mindset.

Games can foster higher-order thinking.

Do you want learners to know something or be able to do something better? If it’s the latter, games can provide a hands-on experience that enables learners to apply knowledge gained during the training.

Games can increase confidence.

They provide an opportunity to practice skills in a safe environment, where learners can make mistakes without detrimental consequences for their jobs and careers.

Games can facilitate motivation.

Even when training is a necessity, learners with stronger motivation to focus on and complete the training will likely retain more of the information they are learning.

Games can be used to assess training effectiveness.

By creating games using training materials, key messages and product features training and sales effectiveness managers can assess knowledge and skill levels of their employees, and develop customized action plans for improvement, thus optimizing training effort.

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