Hiring the right candidate for the job is only the first step in any recruitment process. Inducting these recruits into the workforce and training them is the more challenging aspect of the job. According to one study, ineffective training costs businesses as much as $13.5 million per thousand employees every year. Inadequately trained employees do not feel accomplished at work and this directly influences their decision to stay with a company.

Unfortunately, legacy training methods like classroom training do not yield the desired results. Game-based learning is still an emerging area of corporate pedagogy that aims to increase learner engagement and thus make the corporate learning process more engaging and rewarding.

Knowing the difference between game-based learning and gamification

HR managers routinely confuse game-based learning with gamification. The latter is merely the use of game-like features like badges, points, leaderboards, and challenges to trigger higher engagement among the learners. Game-based learning, on the other hand, is the use of a game-like setup that learners ‘play’ to understand concepts and job responsibilities.

Let’s take a company like Walmart for example. Sales associates in the Walmart stores own responsibilities like greeting customers, product location, price-checking, organizing store shelves and so on. A theoretical course on these topics is likely to be monotonous while learning ‘on the job’ could put your brand at risk since these sales associates might fail to do their job while the customer is watching. A virtual game that these workers ‘play’ to earn points for greeting customers, placing products on the right shelves or locating the product to the right shelf is likely to communicate these job responsibilities in a much more effective way. Such games do not have to be custom-built each time and may also be in the form of surveys, polls and quizzes.

Building a game-based learning package

The first step in designing a game-based learning package is understanding the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) relating to the corporate training program. Training sales associates at Walmart, for instance, would require all learners to know, among other things, the right way to locate a product or organize the store shelves.

The next step is to devise a gaming set-up that would enable the employee to learn these concepts. It is a good idea to hire a professional third party elearning consultant to design a game package that will incorporate these lessons over a gaming environment. 

Deploying and testing

Game-based learning packages need to be rigorously tested on two factors before deployment – a success rate of learners and efficiency. The objective of a game based learning package is to make learning quick and fun for its learners. A package that takes your employees a longer time to learn than traditional packages may not be a good use of their time. Similarly, a package that delivers a lower success rate than legacy packages would need to be redesigned. It is vital that you rigorously test your packages on these two metrics before deployment.

Game-based learning is not for everybody

It needs to be pointed out that game-based learning is not the most effective teaching mechanism at all times. Designing and deploying a course incurs significant investments and resources. Consequently, it works well for industries that have large numbers of recurrent learners. Jobs in retail and restaurants see high volumes of new workers who also have high attrition levels. Training employees in these industries can be expensive and game-based learning can be quite effective in such scenarios. Game-based learning may not be optimal for positions that have low attrition and intake numbers.

Game-based learning has seen terrific uptake over the past few years and this has brought down the cost of designing such learning packages. Have you made use of game-based learning techniques in your organization? Share your experiences in the comments.

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