Why and How to Use Gamification for Corporate Learning and Development


Gamification hasn’t been proven by science, therefore there is no real way to tell the effects it will have on your organization, and the facts of this workplace training option are merely based on surveying employees, says Bret Kramer, VP of Sales and Client Success, Qstream.

For corporate settings where gamification is appropriate for employee training, it can effectively boost engagement, creativity, and learning. However, not all training material is meant to be “gamified”. Business leaders must consider if gaming is an appropriate method based on the topic the employees are being trained on and the work environment and setting. Here are common questions and answers to gamification and how it can be used within a microlearning platform. 

How Gamification Is Used in a Workplace Training Program

Gamification is using game mechanics, elements, and principles and applying them to non-game contexts to engage users better. It has become an important tool that is being taken advantage of when it comes to workplace training, routinely incorporated into many modern learning platforms. 

In most game-based learning events, learners compete directly against one or more individuals in an interactive experience that somehow rewards learning performance. Gen Z favors gamification – in fact, according to a Newzoo reportOpens a new window , around 81% of Gen Z’ers reported playing games in the past six months, whereas the older generations reported less than half that number. The report concludes that because Gen Z’ers are more familiarized with gaming, they prefer it to be incorporated into their learning programs. Gamification can effectively keep employees who are overtaxed with information and other digital distractions engaged. 

Elements of a Well-designed Learning Game 

While there is no one-size-fits-all design for gamification in training, it must be customized to suit the learning needs of your specific industry, job function, and work environment. Organizations must align the game with their business objectives, ensuring the learning experience accurately reflects how businesses want to convey their training to new employees. A close relationship between the organization’s training designers and line of business leaders is crucial for ensuring the main objectives and material of the game are aligned with business objectives and that the level of gaming, or if using gaming at all, is appropriate for the given situation and subject matter.

Finally, a well-designed game should refresh the learner’s information frequently to keep the content relevant and allow for better retention and engagement. At Qstream, we leverage game mechanics in our microlearning platform via leaderboards and allow for configuration of the level of gaming or disabling it to appropriately align with the customer’s goals and level of comfort with gamification. Using gaming within the right contextual setting allows organizations to incorporate a healthy balance of competitiveness within the workplace and rewards employees who perform best. 

See More: Why Gamification is the Secret to Managing Next Generation

Benefits of Gamification

There is no wrong or right industry for gamification or one where gaming is used more prevalently. Instead, the decision to incorporate gamification and the extent to which it is used should be based on the subject matter, job function, and the workers’ environment, as noted previously. Company culture can also play a significant role in the decision. An example of when gaming is not appropriate would be certain types of DEI training where it would be inappropriate for other employees to know who achieved a low score. Another example is for many frontline workers, where an over-gamified learning experience could cause serious worker distraction leading to safety issues, production quality issues, or a poor customer experience. Situation and context are critical in choosing when to employ gamification in a learning program.

While gamification has many benefits, this type of workplace learning can be distracting, inappropriate and ultimately downplay the material for high-risk industries such as food manufacturing and life sciences, and healthcare for some job functions. Additionally, the incentive of gamified tests in the workplace often becomes about passing the quiz, completing the game, or getting a high score – rather than gaining an actual working knowledge of their job and retaining the information. For example, Dr. Hammedi and her colleagues ask two interesting researchOpens a new window questions: 

  1. What impact does gamified work have on frontline employees’ job satisfaction and engagement; and
  2. Does voluntary participation moderate the effects of gamified work?

To answer these questions, they conducted three studies with a mixed-method approach, combining in-depth interviews and two field experiments. As the authors cite in their introduction, research has shown that properly implemented gamification in a learning solution can effectively boost engagement, creativity, learning, and behavior change. It is also possible to use too much gamification in learning. Gamification fatigue is real, and while it may offer a unique and novel way to drive engagement initially, it can quickly become an annoying distraction that employees will dread. While it is crucial to monitor for potential negative effects of gamification in the workplace, gamification used appropriately and at the right level is a powerful tool in the arsenal of learning and development professionals.

Future of Gamification

A surveyOpens a new window revealed that 81% of respondents claim that gamified activities boosted their sense of belonging. With employee engagement and retention being a top priority in the workplace today due to fully remote and hybrid working models, the future of gamification is looking up. While gamification has been proven to increase engagement and completion rates for workplace training programs, it’s important to remember that it matters what level and type of gamification you provide. Game mechanics are a big part of what makes Qstream’s microlearning platforms incredibly effective, but offering flexibility in its use and applying just the right amount of gaming to create healthy competition creates an optimal learning experience and drives the highest levels of learner engagement.

What does the future of gamification look like? What would you tell someone who is on the fence about introducing gamified learning into their workplace? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .