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Gamification: Training Techniques that Work

Making Learning Fun and Measuring Success​

Gamification is an Effective Training Technique for Business and Schools

Gamification has been my main learning opportunity and new professional skill since 2010. I went live with my first gamification effort in August 2011 at an educational company and I have worked as a gamification expert for many clients since then. It's a lot of fun working with teams that are committed and enthusiastic! 

I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to apply those techniques to our course. 's online Human Trafficking Essentials course integrates gamification to ensure that users stay interested in the material that teaches them everything they need to learn about human trafficking. Learn more about the course here.

There are many positives and negatives about implementing gamification in your project, from matching a cultural fit to ensuring that there is top down support for the effort. 

Gamification Works When Leadership Supports it Fully

Top down support is the place to reality check first. If your leaders aren't sold on the idea, it's likely that some of the necessary pillars for success will not get put in place before they want to “hurry up and launch it!” Make sure they know what they're getting into and how it affects the bottom like.

After experiencing this gamification effort and watching implementations succeed or fail, what kind of tips can I offer to a company considering using gamification to engage their employees? Here are six that are vital.

1) “Just what the heck is gamification? Is it all Nintendo and no real work?” Ensure everyone knows what gamification is: a way to use proven techniques to encourage, engage, and reward people for doing the things the organization wants them to accomplish.

PBJ Learning uses interactive lessons and activities to drive interest in the material that must be learned, and when a certificate is earned, employers know exactly what a learner has experienced, because the syllabus and learning objectives are made available for everyone. 

2) “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.” Be sure that you can quantify what you REALLY want your employees / customers to accomplish. It has to be measurable. 

As an example, human trafficking awareness includes recognition of common “Red Flags,” so those have been integrated throughout our course in videos, written stories, and interactive activities. Retention of these types of learning objectives are measured easily through pre- and post- course assessments.

3) “Know your audience.” Make sure the experience is genuine to your product or service and a good cultural fit for your community. If there is a disconnect, you can bet they won't participate.

Our interactive, online certificate course has been widely accepted by our customers and employers. Once people describe their positive experience from the course to others, they make others interested in trying to learn in a whole new way.

Let us know if you have any thoughts or concerns about your group's culture!

4) “Honesty is the best policy.” If you make a mistake, own up to it immediately and completely. People forgive mistakes. People remember cover-ups. This is especially true with customers on the internet. The internet never forgets and it's awake 24 hours a day.

When you are considering a gamification program, remember that you are making a commitment to being honest with your employees and customers.

When it comes to our human trafficking training, we want to know if it works and how to improve it if there are any issues. We have committed to transparency and honesty; let us prove it.

5) “Gamification is NOT ‘fire and forget.” Successful gamification efforts are seriously supported. You measure and adjust. You redo your onboarding until it shines. You find ways to continually delight your community. Continuous upkeep and tweaking of the experience is vital to long-term success. New features are introduced as they are needed, and those are carefully chosen by the right people, which may in fact be your community. 

With regard to our work, we have proof of our commitment to gamification. During production, we wrote and scrapped multiple scripts until they were right and were approved by our advisors. We built and re-built lessons based upon feedback from dozens of users. If someone didn't walk away with a thorough understanding of a topic, we rewrote that lesson or added another interactive activity. “Actions, Means, and Purpose” was a particular challenge. Hundreds of people have informed the version that is available today and it is expected that we will continue making changes to provide better service and training.

6) “Are you committed?” Gamification is a big undertaking, but the results can not only be measured, they can significantly affect your ROI. Making the shift to gamifying your company in any way requires a lot of trust (with everyone in your company), and a commitment to constant self-reflection. Are the company's needs aligned with its processes? Do we know what our staff are supposed to be doing? Are we providing the right service to our customers? If you are ready to question everything so you can align your gamification efforts with those of the organization and your community or employees, you are on the right path.

PBJ Learning is dedicated to helping our customers learn about trafficking. Let us know what you thought of the course!

“Community Engagement Manager”

In order to keep the above maxims alive and thriving, you require a dedicated, driven, healthy “Community Engagement Manager” to continually understand the feelings of the staff and align their goals and needs with those of the organization. They are also responsible for the overall health of the community as well as leading the product direction for the gamification efforts. 

Only a special person can juggle these needs and lead your community exceptionally well. It's a non-stop challenge to keep people interested, and if the point is to keep them engaged, they need to be well nurtured. 

How Would You Use Gamification?

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Do you know an amazing “Community Engagement Manager?” What qualities do you think they should bring to the table? What is their real job title?