“The traditional approach to training creates opportunities to enhance long-term knowledge retention” says Abby Vietor, Global Director of Dealer Training and Productivity at Ford. With 3,000 dealerships and 164,000 employees in the US alone, Ford understand the pressures of training their colleagues in fast moving technology, products, and services. In years gone by, changes within the automotive industry were often mechanical or design led, easy to communicate and easy for the likes of sales colleagues to get to grips with. Now, we’ve entered an age of software-defined vehicles, where consumers demand enhanced technical and specialist advice when making their purchasing decisions. For Ford, this has meant moving away from traditional text-heavy L&D programmes – frankly, the level of knowledge and understanding required cannot be provided via old-style e-learning techniques. Instead, Ford and others, have moved to gamified programmes “utilizing spaced reinforcement… helping dealer employees retain what they learn… using ‘a teach, show, practice, reinforce’ framework.”

Ford have bundled this into what they’re calling the ‘Ford University’ and have onboarded award-winning producers and creatives to help develop and curate a highly engaging learning experience with AI coaching and cinematic-style resources – think big budget, Netflix style investment for their colleagues. Why? Because where once gaming was considered trivial at best (perhaps a distraction at worst) it’s generating real-world results across performance, productivity, engagement, retention and more. Last month, I mentioned that KPMG had rolled-out a gamified training tool to their employees called Globerunner…and the results were astounding. Across those offices using the tool, they saw an average of 25% fee increase, a 16% lift in new customers and 22% more opportunities.

Take from this what you will, but one thing’s for sure, we certainly can’t ignore the significance of the game-based learning market which is forecasted to be worth 29.7 billion USD by 2026. And while I’m not saying you need to invest as heavily as Ford or KPMG, it’s certainly worth considering the pros and cons to assess whether we should be starting to embed gamified training as part of our L&D programmes.

Pros

  • Gaming increases motivation, engagement, and feelings of achievement. As researcher, Bohyun Kim states, “mundane everyday activities in the nongame context turn into gaming opportunities for rewards like badges, points, rankings, and statuses.
  • Gaming provides psychological safety. Think about how many times you’ve ‘died’ in game; you leapt too far, jumped too high, made a wrong turn. It doesn’t matter, does it? Games provide psychological safety for you to make mistakes, be creative and learn.
  • Gaming provides a platform to ‘Teach, show, practice, reinforce’. Here’s the issue with traditional L&D, it’s rooted in Teach and Show but often neglects Practice and Reinforce. It tells you what you need to know, granted, but aside from perhaps a quiz at the end, that’s about it. Gaming is unique in that it provides a platform for you to use the skills you’ve learnt and enhance those skills as you continue through the game.
  • Gaming is highly customisable. Not all colleagues will require the same training, even in the same role or function. Whereas traditionally it would be time consuming to create bespoke versions of training for every colleague, gaming allows for a highly personalised experience.

Cons

  • It’s an investment. Whichever platform you choose, there’s no doubt that a move into the gamified training arena is an investment and should be considered carefully. Remember, the goal is not to be ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’, it’s to create a compelling experience that helps enable better learning by satisfying psychological needs and aligning with your values, culture, and training objectives.
  • It needs to be inclusive. Not everyone learns in the same way. Whichever programme or tool you select, it needs to be accessible and engaging to all, offering different types of gamified experiences that are inclusive, representative, and respectful of those from different backgrounds.