Work isn’t always fun, and managers and HR specialists around the world are on the lookout for methods and tools they can use to provide a more meaningful experience and make their workforce more engaged.
Something that can help them keep their employees longer and broadcast a positive image for the company.
This is especially the case with the onboarding process, which employers need to get just right to impress the candidates and convince them they made the right decision by joining their company.
Gamification is one of the biggest trends out there that can help companies solve all of the aforementioned issues simply by making tedious processes more fun!
If that seems too good to be true, we’ve prepared a list of the biggest advantages gamification can have for your onboarding process.
Let’s dive right in.
Paints a Positive Image of the Company
The importance of first impressions cannot be overstated. As new recruits are joining your company, you have a small window of opportunity to paint a picture of what their experience with the company will be like.
That small window corresponds to your onboarding process.
To really nail that first impression so that it stays with your new hires for a long time, you need to appeal to their emotions.
You want them to remember their first encounter with your company as some of the most fun they’ve ever had at work. If you accomplish that, you’ve successfully painted a positive image of your company.
This is where gamification comes in.
We all love playing games, and studies show that employees enjoy participating in gamified activities, as evidenced by elevated levels of happiness and productivity at work when gamification is implemented.
With an onboarding process that uses gamified elements to convey knowledge and welcome new employees into a rich culture, you’re showing your new employee that their job includes fun activities and positive experiences.
If this seems a bit unattainable, let’s support our argument with a great example.
The first month for new employees at Bazaarvoice, the B2B software provider, is an experience that’s more similar to summer camp than to actual work.
As soon as they start their jobs, newbies are invited to participate in a scavenger hunt that comprises a series of work-related tasks that the participants need to complete in order to “graduate” from the onboarding stage.
These tasks include things like shadowing the sales staff and competing in a trivia quiz about the company, but also team missions, such as organizing a snack break for the entire office.
At the end of onboarding, the new group of employees formally introduce themselves to the global team via a video conference and participate in a ceremony that involves ringing a big gong, a long-standing company tradition.
Bazzarvoice’s gamified onboarding program checks all of our boxes for a great onboarding experience.
It teaches new hires the basics of their job, immerses them in the company’s history and culture, and provides ample opportunity for employees to interact, mingle, and collaborate.
But what about the company image? Do employees come to see the experience of working for Bazaarvoice as positive?
Their feedback answers that question with a resounding yes!
Just take a look at how they rated the onboarding experience on Comparably:
Mind you, this isn’t some unrepresentative sample. More than 500 employees rated the company, so this is an incredibly high score for an onboarding program.
The lesson here is that gamification pairs well with onboarding when you’re working toward the goal of creating a positive image for your company.
Gamification helps new employees loosen up and start associating their jobs with having a good time, which means they see your company in a very positive light.
Offers Instant Feedback Opportunities
One of the essential features of playing games is keeping score.
Points, scores, leaderboards—these are the elements that tell us how we’re doing in a game or how we compare to other players.
And the desire to beat our previous score or win against the competition is what keeps us engaged and motivates us to keep playing.
How can this information help you with your onboarding process? Easy. Just think of score-keeping as a form of instant feedback.
If you introduce a scoring system into onboarding and make it easy for employees to view and track, they will instantly know how they’re doing and whether or not they’re progressing at a satisfactory pace.
This is why points systems and leaderboards are so common in gamified processes at work, particularly when it comes to onboarding.
For maximum impact, companies also like to use badges and/or small rewards to give these scoring systems more weight.
After all, feedback is at its most effective when it includes a reward for accomplishments and progress.
No one knows this better than Deloitte, the financial services company. They had a particular problem with getting executives excited about participating in, and completing, their leadership training program.
Their solution was gamifying the otherwise tedious and demanding set of classes by including badges, leaderboards, and scoring that measured how well the executives participating in the program were doing.
The training program included simulations of leadership situations such as handling difficult conversations with employees, managing subordinates’ career paths, and taking responsibility for their team’s mistakes.
Completing these simulations, participants were awarded points that gave them instantaneous feedback on their performance and allowed them to measure up against their peers.
The gamified system could also tell them which parts of the training they’re excelling at, and which skills need more work.
And just like that, a training program was turned into a fun, engaging experience that provided instant feedback that allows the player/employee to assess their abilities.
The results were, again, astounding.
The time needed to complete the training program was slashed by half, and attendance was increased by 46.6%.
We all know how crucial feedback is to progressing through and completing learning processes, such as employee onboarding.
With gamification, your employees no longer have to wait to meet their supervisors in meetings to discuss their work, but can continually receive feedback throughout training.
Helps With Information Retention
Employee onboarding has always presented HR experts with an interesting dilemma.
On the one hand, it’s only logical that onboarding shouldn’t take forever. Employees need to internalize basic knowledge, procedures, and company culture and start contributing as soon as possible.
On the other hand, cramming too much information into your new hires during their training and cutting onboarding short is a surefire way to leave them under-stimulated and ill-prepared for the challenges of work.
That is, if they even stay with you for that long. Studies show that employees are quick to leave a company that does a poor job of welcoming and training them.
The solution, you guessed it, is gamification.
Including gamification elements in the onboarding process can help you keep the onboarding process fun, meaning employees will give it their undivided attention and focus.
And this, of course, means they’ll be able to retain more information in less time, allowing you to shorten onboarding without sacrificing quality.
This is supported by actual research. Turning learning, skill development, and knowledge sharing into a game has been shown to increase the employees’ ability to retain skills.
All kinds of companies are leveraging these findings. Take Domino’s, for example.
Domino’s is a company that prides itself on maintaining a high standard of quality in the food industry, both in terms of the food it offers and the service it provides.
And they are able to deliver this standard consistently because they have an onboarding program that succeeds in training their workers quickly and efficiently.
Their onboarding program is called The Pizza Maker Course and it includes simulations and gamification that supports training, assessment, and reward systems.
The training program also has a competitive element that allows employees to beat their previous scores and compete against each other.
By gamifying their onboarding process, Domino’s managed to decrease the time needed for employees to complete the training, but they also taught their employees so well that they were able to deliver outstanding results every time.
In other words, long-term skill retention was achieved.
Remember, if learning is made engaging and fun, the knowledge and skills you want to transfer will stick with them for a long time.
Boosts Employee Engagement
Gamification is your most powerful tool when it comes to boosting employee engagement.
When new hires can have fun at work and compete with each other, pushing themselves further to win, their focus and engagement levels go through the roof.
Gamification gives onboarding a fun twist that changes employees’ perception of onboarding from something they have to do to something they want to do.
In addition to that, gamification tends to have a social component (e.g., competitions or leaderboards) that eliminates the feelings of isolation and being out of place that people can be prone to when starting a new job.
This is another factor that boosts employee engagement.
The link between gamification and engagement is particularly useful when you want to onboard employees for a system or process that is particularly demanding, complex, or tedious.
Let’s take a look at a great example of how gamification helped a company keep its employees engaged and productive, even when faced with a mountain of work.
Omnicare is the leading expert in providing pharmacy services for long-term medical care facilities.
As you can imagine, a company like that always has an extremely busy help desk, and Omnicare had quite a large problem with long waiting times and high abandonment rates.
They had to do something to boost the service team’s performance and encourage them to close more tickets. So they decided to turn customer service procedures into a game.
And not just any game. The members of the service team were avid baseball fans so they integrated the rules and mechanics of the game into their workflow.
For example, each team member had nine innings, or days, to complete a large number of customer tickets. For every ticket they completed, they would score a home run.
The gamified system had its own scoring system, and the leaders in the competition were eligible for small rewards, such as movie tickets and Amazon gift cards.
The leadership at the company put a lot of effort into setting up the gamified system, but it definitely paid off.
The company soon saw 100% participation from service agents involved with the program, and customer wait times were cut by 50%. All of this was because the team was heavily invested and engaged with playing their favorite game.
We all love games. When we’re engaged in play, the world seems to melt away, and our attention is completely focused on winning.
Why not leverage that in your onboarding process to keep your new hires engaged, focused, and productive?
Connects Onboarding With Key Business Goals
At this point, we thought it might be wise to give you a fair warning.
When trying to gamify the onboarding process, it’s incredibly easy to get carried away. After all, you want your new recruits to have a good time and start perceiving your company as a great place to work, as you definitely should.
However, keep in mind that gamification isn’t an end to itself. It still exists to support your onboarding process and help your new hires become productive as soon as possible.
That’s why a good onboarding process should be aligned with key business goals. In other words, it should directly help your employees develop essential skills and absorb important knowledge that will help them in their role.
In that respect, it’s interesting to examine which tools and apps employees need most during onboarding and where they’re saying they would like to see more gamification.
Each of these tools contributes to the goals of onboarding, specifically, and the goals of your business in more general terms. So this is a good place to start and how you’re going to gamify these aspects of work is entirely up to you.
For example, if you’re using documentation software like Archbee to host your company’s library of knowledge and important company documents, you may want to gamify it so that new hires learn to use it and get familiar with the knowledge it holds.
A great practice some companies use is to organize scavenger hunts.
Instead of presenting the new hire with the documents they need to read to know about company policy, structure, code of conduct, and procedures, you can simply give them access to your documentation software.
Have them explore the base for the information they need in your collections and document trees.
After they’re done, you can give them a pop quiz or trivia challenge to see how much they’ve learned, and reward them for a job well done.
To conclude, gamification is a powerful weapon. But it’s virtually useless if it doesn’t tie directly into your business goals.
Where new employees are concerned, try to find the obstacles that stand in the way of productivity and leap over them with game elements.
Reduces Employee Turnover
It’s worth repeating that new employees have no problem walking out on bad onboarding practices.
This is a very important fact you need to take into consideration because the costs of high turnover are astronomical.
And this doesn’t even include the loss of talent, skills, and innovation a good employee can bring to the table.
A high new employee turnover rate usually points to a problem in the onboarding process.
It may be too difficult for employees to go through, or it may be doing a poor job in preparing them for the challenges of work.
If the onboarding process doesn’t include a cultural component, it may even contribute to feelings of isolation and alienation.
As this article has shown you, gamification can help you alleviate all of these issues.
And by developing your new employees’ skills and keeping them engaged and supported throughout onboarding, you’re also building the foundations of strong retention rates.
For example, the customer experience software provider, TELUS International, offers many learning programs for its employees, such as a language academy and a skill development course.
Their programs are available online and can be accessed with mobile devices on the go, but they were doing a poor job attracting employees to sign up.
That is, until TELUS decided to gamify their learning programs.
Following some of the best practices we’ve covered in this and previous articles, they added leaderboards, badges as awards, and the ability for employees to create virtual avatars.
The company’s CIO, Michael Ringman, reports that this gamification of the learning process enabled TELUS to nail both employee engagement and cut turnover by half!
In 2020, we achieved world-class employee engagement scores of 86% and continue to consistently achieve 50% lower attrition rates vs. our competitors.
You can think of enhanced employee retention as almost an unintended byproduct of gamification.
As long as you’re gamifying the onboarding process to improve engagement, happiness, and culture, high retention rates are sure to follow.
There’s No End to the Advantages of Gamification in Employee Onboarding
From broadcasting a positive company image, enhanced training, and improved feedback cycles to boosting engagement and employee retention, as well as reaffirming company goals, gamification can improve your onboarding experience in many ways.
If you’re noticing your onboarding process isn’t turning new hires into happy, productive employees then it might be time to shake things up and add some game elements to the mix.
You’ll be surprised how many benefits, big and small, gamification can have for your onboarding process.