18 September 2020

How gamification in learning and development can improve training

Lady working in cafe

Here’s a closer look at training gamification and how it can boost the effectiveness of your L&D programme.

Games - and the psychology behind gaming - can bring a lot to workplace learning. By gamifying aspects of your corporate training, tricky subjects become easier to grasp, employees are more motivated, and instructors can use it as an alternative to formal testing to measure employee progress. 

What is gamification?

Gamification involves taking the building blocks of games and applying them to real-world activities. It’s about understanding how games work, and thinking about how these principles might improve the way in which your training is delivered.

So which gaming elements can go hand-in-hand with learning? Here are some examples:

The level up principle

Curiosity can be a huge motivator in gaming. We keep playing because we want to see what’s coming next. The desire to improve is also part of the fun: we stick with the game precisely because each task is slightly more difficult than the last.

These ideas can easily be embedded into your corporate training. For instance, let’s say you need to teach employees how to use a complex new software suite. One way of doing it is through an interactive tour. Even better, you could gamify that tour by segmenting it into levels, starting with the basics and moving up to the more complicated functions. To level up, the employee needs to successfully complete a task at each stage.

The reward

Games are meant to be fun. But it’s worth thinking a little about the science behind the fun.

Key to this is dopamine: the neurotransmitter that’s activated whenever we achieve something, receive a reward or experience pleasure. It’s this reaction that makes us want to repeat the experience that triggered it.

So how do you trigger a dopamine hit with your workplace training? You can start by splitting the activity into distinct challenges (see above). You can go further by adopting gaming metaphors such as points, badges and trophies. You might even want to translate these virtual rewards into real-life perks and prizes.

In this way, you can subtly reinforce the reward element linked to specific learning tasks. This can help trigger a stronger response on task completion - and keep employees coming back for more.

The leaderboard

Especially on mobile, the leaderboard is a staple feature in gaming. It’s because as well as unlocking personal milestones, we also love to see how well we’re doing compared to other participants. And if we’re on the cusp of climbing up a few places in the rankings, it can be a big incentive to keep on playing.

A leaderboard system can bring a healthy element of competition to keep employees on the learning path. Individuals get a clear view of their progress compared to others. This encourages them to analyse and benchmark their own performance in a fun, compelling way.

Benefits of gamification for employees and your business

Employee engagement

Overwhelmingly, employees want to learn and develop. According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if they invested in their career.

But what form should this learning take? Presenting a employee member with a ring binder to plough through can be a surefire way to sap their enthusiasm. In fact, one in three employees say that uninspiring content is a barrier to their learning. 

One recent survey shows that with gamified training, motivation climbs to 83%, while boredom drops to just 10%. Gamification allows you to build the type of learning experience employees actually want. Splitting courses into staged levels allows employees to learn in bite-sized chunks at their own pace, while the challenge and competition elements go a long way in keeping them focused. 


When employees are engaged, they tend to be more productive. And in fact, 72% of employees say that gamification inspires them to work harder.

With gamified content, whether they are completing mini-challenges, answering questions or navigating their way through a series of barriers, employees are interacting with your training content, rather than just passively consuming it. This makes it much more likely that they will retain the knowledge they are covering.

With employees absorbing knowledge more efficiently, training takes up less time and employees reach the desired level of competence, quicker. 

Performance analysis

We’ve touched on how reward and leaderboard functions can encourage employees to compare their progress to others. This also provides a handy seam of data (e.g. badges earned, tasks completed and levels unlocked) that can be analysed by your L&D department to assess each employee’s progress.

Rather than more formal end-of-course assessments, you could even choose to use the results of gamified mini-tests as a way of assessing employee attainment. 

Put gamification to work with iTrent LMS  

Successful use of gamification in corporate training doesn’t have to mean the wholesale ditching of your existing knowledge programmes in favor of a stack of new content.

Rather, to target your efforts most effectively, it’s worth asking the following questions:

  • Which areas of our programme are failing to engage our employees?
  • Where are our learning ‘sticking points’ (i.e. those areas where employees are failing to understand the content or reach the desired level of competency as rapidly as you would like)?
  • How might gamification optimise learning in these areas?
  • What form of gamification might be appropriate (e.g. interactive challenges, gamified segmentation, quizzes and rewards)? 

iTrent’s new Learning Management System (LMS) makes it easier than ever before to embed gamified elements into your learning content. Best of all, you can do it without specialist design or programming input - and without replacing your existing course content.

With iTrent LMS, you can:

  • Create and activate unique gaming experiences for learners
  • Include motivational elements like points, awards, badges and more
  • Monitor engagement and track employee progress from a central dashboard. You can even use the system to manage a system of ‘real life’ cash perks and rewards

Want to discover more? To find out how iTrent LMS can reinvigorate your learning initiatives and boost employee engagement, get in touch today.


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