How the U.S. Navy Improved Training with Video Games

Kinesthetic learners make up over one-third of the population, so most people learn by doing. This is where games come in. Using games in the workplace combines all of the senses, not to mention all three learning types (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Gamification (game-if-ick-ation) can increase employee skill adaptation by at least 40% by utilizing behavior-motivating strategies. Especially with the entrance of Millennials into the workforce, gamification is gaining prevalence in employee training.

3D: Beyond it is another dimension…

Gabe Zichermann, Founder and Chief Executive at Dopamine Inc., says there are three aspects to gamification that make it functional in the workplace: feedback, friends, and fun. Of course feedback is important during training, but friends and fun? People respond to friendly competition. Using games puts this in a light-hearted and fun atmosphere.

·  Feedback: what good is it going to do if it is just a game? Employees have to be aware of where they stand on the learning curve during the game. If they perform well during the game, they need to know.

·  Friends: a little friendly competition never hurt. In fact, it’s necessary. Fighting for the highest score, or the most coins (in the case of Mario), is motivation for employees to do better.

·  Fun: if it’s fun, they will come. An employee who enjoys the training program is more likely to return for more. In combination with a rewards program that is a good cultural fit for the company, gamification results in a more effective training program.

Some organizations are taking the 3 dimensions of gamification more literally. The Navy for instance, needed fast, quality training in a real-time setting. What did they turn to? 3D games. After the implementation of the new training program, the Navy saw a 50% improvement in recruit performance. It was apparent that the trainees were more highly engaged in the training because they barely even glanced at the supervisors.

Link Behavior With Organization Goals

Telling John, “You’re just not meeting company goals,”  is telling him he’s not performing at par,  and gamification can make that tangible. Your employees will be able to see where they are and are not performing well according to company standards depending on the levels they complete in the training game. HR leaders convert the scoreboard or leaderboard information to what it means at the business level.

As your employees begin to play better and ultimately perform better, you’ll see a rise in engagement. According to a survey by Aberdeen, companies who use gamification as a training tool see an improvement in employee engagement by 48% compared to the organizations that don’t. Even more impressive, gamification is shown to reduce turnover by 36%.

Intrinsic Rewards

Yes, people love cash bonuses. These extrinsic rewards however, quickly devalue the benefits of gamifcation. Failures of gamification in the workplace are the result of using extrinsic rewards instead of intrinsic. The rise engagement organizations see after implementing gamification into their training programs are the intrinsic rewards. Games stimulate healthy competition, skill mastery, and recognition. Learning by doing fosters a “job well done” atmosphere, which can also raise employee engagement by at least 30%.

Trending in workplace training is the use of games. Yes, games. Gamification raises employee engagement, performance, and skill adaptation with an internal want to do better, connecting performance to company goals, and fostering an atmosphere of friendly competition. Deploying a gamification program could increase employee performance in your organization, like it did for the Navy.

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photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery via photopin cc

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