According to a Forbes contributor, gamification is defined as taking the essence of games - attributes such as engagement, transparency, design, and competition - and applying them to a range of real-world processes inside an organization. The trend of using gamification at companies has increased, especially since the release of a survey conducted by Gallup indicating that fewer than one-third of employees are engaged at work. While businesses spent just $100 million on gamification in 2010, this number is set to rise to $2.8 billion by 2016. Even bigger, at least seven in ten Fortune 2000 Companies will have deployed at least one gamified application by the end of 2014. Although it has not been common to see gamification techniques utilized in respect to leadership development, this trend is projected to change. Gamification techniques are likely to not only stay a part of employee training initiatives, corporate wellness programs, and efforts to boost the effectiveness of real-world processes among the general workforce, but also debut among leadership development. Two examples of big-time organizations who have already begun to use gamification to boost engagement in leadership training are Deloitte and NTT Data (OTC:NTTDF).
NTT Data uses their Ignite Leadership game to facilitate collaboration among managers who provide participants the opportunity to learn more about executive roles within the company, and cultivate the development of five core management skills: change management, communication, negotiation, problem-solving, and time management. Using an analysis of the participants' game-playing, NTT Data's executive team is able to determine who would likely be the strongest leaders in real life.
Results from NTT's use of gamification to conduct training programs has delivered impressive results. Within 70 leaders who took the training program, 50 employees ended up taking team leadership roles, which was 50 percent higher than when the company conducted traditional training and coaching methods. Also, newly developed leaders proposed 30 new ideas to assist in current projects, which ended up generating $1 million in revenue, as well as cost savings for current clients. Additionally, employee referrals among those who completed the game increased by 30 percent, which reduced recruiting costs by $500,000 in the first year alone. Finally, there has been a 40 percent increase in employee satisfaction because "graduates" of the Ignite Leadership Game together have generated 220 new ideas in the customer organization. This has contributed to lowering attrition by 30 percent.
Another company to use gamification in leadership training is Deloitte. Deloitte's technique for incorporating gamification into leadership development comes through their Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA) training programs. Deloitte has seen participants spending increased amounts of time on the site to complete programs, almost seeing addictive behaviors among the participants. Since the beginning of the program, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of users returning to the sites each week. Along with video lectures, in-depth courses, tests and quizzes, DLA incorporates missions, badges, and leaderboards into a user-friendly platform. Since the founding of the program in 2008. DLA has had over 20,000 executive users participate and engage in the online training programs. The program uses content from top tier business schools like Harvard Business Publishing, Melbourne Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business to create video lectures, in-depth courses, and tests/quizzes into a user-friendly platform.
The result Deloitte Leadership Academy has witnessed after implementing gamification is that there has been a 47 percent increase in the number of users returning to the site each week. Additionally, many users have gone from mediocre users to super-users (30 badges in a few weeks). Finally, there have been anecdotes abound that Deloitte employees keep using the site because they do not want their co-worker getting above them on the leaderboard. Thus gamification is driving greater levels of engagement in learning and development at the company.
It is time the c-suite begins using gamification in leadership development programs as the benefits include increased employee motivation as a result of intrinsic or extrinsic rewards for changes in behavior, and thus, increased engagement with work. One Gartner research VP says, "The potential is enormous… [and] gamification could become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon." Gamification guru Yu-kair Chou advises that successful gamification design starts with asking the question "How do I want my employees/players/users to feel?" instead of jumping straight into designing the game elements. Leadership development programs are the perfect area to insert gamification because according to a Glassdoor's survey, 72 percent of the workers polled believed training programs to acquire specific skills are more valuable than pursuing a degree or another degree. While gamification for leadership development at the c-suite is still new, there is much potential because gamification leverages people's natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure.
Companies are throwing away the age-old "all work, no play" mentality at work. Gamification boosts workers' engagement and motivates them to reach new levels of productivity and achievement as leaders. Companies can remove the boredom typically associated with traditional leadership training and achieve maximum success by utilizing gamification and turning learning, into a game.
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