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On-boarding gamification: racing through the 90 days

April 8, 2013 • gal

Start your engines!

You’ve just recruited a new employee. You have less than 90 days to turn this new recruit into a productive employee. Okay, you already have a well-established on-boarding process. But the truth is that it is boring. New recruits consider it a burden.

How can you shorten the time-to-productivity?
How can you engage your new recruit in the on-boarding process?
How can you reduce failure and early-attrition rates?

Enter gamification. Gamification involves applying game-like dynamics and mechanisms in a non-game environment for the purpose of behavior modification. In our case, improving engagement throughout the on-boarding process.

Let’s consider Martin. Martin, a seasoned sales person, just signed the contract and should join our company in 30 days.

Martin will start the pre-boarding phase immediately. Usually he is given the company slide deck, presentations and documents about products, systems and processes. As a new recruit, his adrenaline levels are high. He wants to to jump in and prove that he was the right choice for the job. Once he signs into the company portal, Martin receives his player ID and a racing-suit badge, which indicates that he has started the on-boarding process. Why racing-suit? because the game narrative chosen by the company is car-racing. As such, Martin begins as a novice driver, with no license and no car. Each activity that he performs, such as reading documents about the company, presentations or any other learning materials, will give him experience points which he will accumulate until he earns his driver’s license badge – a mandatory requirement for the orientation course.

Today, Martin joins the company and starts orientation. In this course he will receive additional learning materials, personal assignments, maybe even group assignments and assessments. Each accomplishment will help him progress through the game with his personal avatar, or even with his course-team. By the end of the process he will be able to win his first race-Car and bonus points for 2nd place course-team. The car’s performance of the car will be determined by his accomplishments.

Later, as Martin joins his sales team, the team acts like a racing group, with shared goals and challenges. Martin won the best novice-car and bonus points in the orientation-course, so he immediately captures everyone’s attention. Martin’s race-group is 3rd in its region, and the group leader starts pushing everyone to complete their tasks, and assist the new recruits – like Martin. Martin, continues his 30-60-90 days onboarding program, in which he should complete seminars, webinars, learning material reading, learning IT systems / CRM / KM, feedback, surveys, assessments, certifications and other compliance processes (professional, organizational or administrative). His driver level increases as he completes more of these courses. Later, he becomes an ACE-Driver and starts helping new recruits, in order to improve the position of his racing group.

By the end of the quarter Martin’s group won the regional cup, and Martin was the most valuable player in it. Two weeks later, the regional manager comes to visit and to celebrate with the group and reward them with an off-site fun event. During the event he asks “Who is Martin?” Martin smiles – he did it! :-)

Now, let’s look at it from Martin’s point of view. Martin would like to prove himself. First he would like to see how he measures up against the benchmark of the company. Second, he would like to prove himself to his managers and, perhaps even more so, he would like to prove himself to be a valuable player in the eyes of his teammates. Gamification helps us to channel this energy into a positive and constructive force.

A proper gamification implementation, will correlate the on-boarding plan, on-boarding stages and monitored activities, to create an engaging process for the employee, using the following principles:

  • Call to action – the employee needs to know what to do next in order to advance in the game
  • A game-like user experience – this kind of experience usually increases engagement with the process
  • Celebrations – mini-celebrations for achievements or victories are very relevant to people that are in a new environment, and would like to prove themselves. For example, badges, trophies, rewards all add a flavor of competition / cooperation / achievement to the process.
  • Personal / Team challenges
  • Immediate feedback – the near-real-time feedback is critical for a process since every day counts
  • Adding fun and narrative meaning to the gamification experience
  • Level progress – a well-defined level progress will create a sense of urgency and will motivate the employee to follow the process

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