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Your Corporate Training Needs Gamification...Now!

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Grab a piece of paper and a pen or open up a note on your phone as you read this. Keep score as we move through this topic together. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Write down the names of the companies you’ve worked for in your career. It might be a short list or a long list. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just make the list.

Next, think about what it was like being brand new at each of those jobs. In particular, think about these five items:

  1. The overall onboarding process

  2. The quality of the training content provided to you

  3. The quality of the delivery mechanism (facilitator led or online) of the training

  4. The level of personalization in the training

  5. How prepared you felt after completing the training

For each company on your list, rate your experience across the five items above using a 1-10 scale. Let’s make 1 represent thoughts like “It was awful,” “Not at all,” or “non-existent.” On the other hand, a 10 might represent thoughts like, “A+ amazing” or “100%.”

I’ll give you a moment…

Now, add the scores of the five items together to get one big number for each company on your list. This represents your overall perceived onboarding experience with those companies.

I personally hope there’s at least one company on your list that has a score of 45 or more, but sadly, my guess is that most will fall into the 30 and below range.

Next, let’s evaluate your lowest scoring experience. If the lowest cumulative score on your list is 25 or below, go to the next section. If your lowest cumulative score is above 25, scroll a little further until you see "I scored 25 or above."


"I scored 25 or below"

Unfortunately, your lackluster onboarding experience isn’t an anomaly. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

  • 30% of organizations engage in what’s called “Passive Onboarding,” which is the lowest level of onboarding that covers compliance-related topics and not much else.

  • Another 50% utilize a practice called “High Potential Onboarding,” which covers both compliance role clarification, but fails to go into great depth about organizational culture and developing significant connections with others.

Upwards of 80% of organizations don’t provide complete and well-thought-out onboarding for their new hires. It’s not a surprise, then, that about 50% of new hires leave organizations within the first 18 months.

There are many reasons why companies have poor onboarding practices. We won’t dive into all of them here, but we will focus on one major hurdle that trips up a lot of HR or L&D leaders.

That hurdle is something we call an integrated and gamified experience.

Many onboarding programs (if you can even call them that) are cobbled together like a kid’s kindergarten craft project. Random pieces and parts of mandatory paperwork, canned compliance training, arbitrary videos, and heaps of self-study documents are shoved together because someone said they have to be covered for all new hires.

If you’ve experienced these symptoms, you’ve likely been a victim of an onboarding experience that lacked both integration and gamification:

  • There’s no cohesiveness of content.

  • There does not appear to be any regard for the learner’s experience or motivation.

  • The onboarding process itself feels haphazard as if there’s no path to follow.

  • The quality of the training content is lacking and there’s no opportunity for meaningful collaboration.

  • Nothing feels polished and the visual design is just sad.

  • You don’t feel prepared to do your job when you’ve completed onboarding.

  • Nothing about the experience felt motivating or regarding.

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, it explains why your lowest rated onboarding experience scored below 25 points.

An integrated training experience isn’t just about providing cohesion to onboarding. It’s actually a prerequisite for applying meaningful gamification that adds significant value in the mind of the learner. If your onboarding content isn’t integrated and cohesive, no amount of points, badges, or leaderboards will suddenly make your new hires jump for joy.

Gamification is inextricably linked to an integrated experience. Given that, how can you transform onboarding that looks and feels like a kindergarten craft project into a top-notch program?

Fixing this problem actually starts with identifying the needs and wants of the learner. Building a psychological profile of your learning audience and determining the behaviors you want from them is a critical and often overlooked first step. Many L&D professionals make the mistake of starting with the content piece, but good integrated and gamified experiences start with the minds of the learners.

Once you map out the learning audiences’ thoughts, feelings, needs, wants, motivations, and the behaviors you want from them, you can start evaluating your content. It is critical to take every bite-sized piece of content you present and ask how it aligns with the profile you built of your learning audience. Evaluate the following: