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Skills Shortage: How Gamification Takes Pain Out Of Personal Development

The UK faces a major skills gap. Can playing games help to close it?

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The UK faces a major skills gap. Can playing games help to close it?

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Skills Shortage: How Gamification Takes Pain Out Of Personal Development

The UK faces a major skills gap. Can playing games help to close it?

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Never has there been a more important time to invest in staff training, as the latest research* from the Confederation of British Industry states that skills shortages are expected to be the biggest threat to a company’s competitiveness in 2017, especially given the uncertainty over access to skilled migrant workers.

Engaging already stretched staff in continuous professional development (CPD) has always been a challenge. Yet lack of CPD dulls an organisation’s innovative edge, and contributes to the malaise that sees these high performers disengage and leave.

Perhaps the introduction of some game play at work is the answer?

The boundaries are blurring

Play is historically something we do out of working hours but, as with so many aspects of our daily lives, those boundaries are increasingly blurring.

With every smartphone now doubling as a games console, access to the world of gaming is universal and 24/7. And for business, most especially HR, gaming represents an interesting opportunity, tapping into a shared love of play that’s vital to everyone’s psyche, to engage staff and make ordinary tasks more appealing.

Winning results

Understanding what it is about games that stimulates us is knowledge that can be transferred to staff development and training. In particular adding a fun but competitive element to what can be perceived as an unappealing obligation can have a huge impact.

Deloitte built a leadership training programme for its highly competitive senior executives. Initially it struggled to get staff engaged but once gaming elements like badges and leadership boards were included the program saw 46.6% increase in the number of users returning to the site daily.

At one leading international professional services firm we work closely with, we were able to go even further, encouraging 90% of its senior leaders to engage with online learning within just six months, simply by turning it into a game.

We created an experience that pitted them against colleagues in a fun, humorous way, rewarding them with badges and trophies for levels completed, and showing them how they were performing against the firm average. For busy executives who were expecting another dreary off-the-shelf training module it was a welcome surprise.

Previously director-level professional development learning averaged just two hours a year. Our work led to a 90% participation rate, with those senior leaders using the tool ten times more than the project team had predicted.

These are success metrics which few other corporates can afford to ignore. It’s clear that the world we live in has changed and games are a part of that new reality. Using the theory behind them to motivate and engage employees at every level makes perfect sense – after all, a life that’s all work and no play never motivated anyone.

Frances Jackson is CEO of OPX, a design consultancy.

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Skills Shortage: How Gamification Takes Pain Out Of Personal Development

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