Engaging Millennials at Work with Gamification

on January 24, 2017

‘Augmented reality? You’re right Miley Cyrus – it’s the Best of Both Worlds!’

As I was thinking about the importance of using modern tools during corporate training, I kept thinking about one of the largest tech stories to hit us in the past six months. It all started when I found myself running into a lot of people. No, I’m not talking about crossing paths with people I know. When I say “run in,” I mean it literally. Pretty much out of the blue, I found myself physically colliding with a lot of people, and the vast majority of them, millennials. Why weren’t they watching where they were going? Within days (or maybe even hours), I realized they were (and still are!) playing the latest augmented reality game that’s all the rage: Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go has grabbed the attention of millions of gamers. And while this video game franchise is almost 20 years old – there are some very relevant and important lessons that can be applied to the workplace. So, go ahead. Ask me if there’s anything a corporate learning and development team can learn from an app or augmented reality game targeted at millennials. The answer is lots!

Try Engaging Millennials at Work with Gamification

Am I not making sense? Let me back up. Pokémon Go is an iOS and Android augmented reality game. That means that it blends the real world with the virtual. In the simplest terms, gamers walk down the street, keeping an eye on their device’s screen to see a map (thanks to GPS data), and catch the various Pokémon that appear in their way.

The vast array of characters to catch, places to go, and powers to earn sure keep the game interesting. For users, playing it is fun. It should be though – it’s a game, right? But, learning too should be fun.

And that’s the first lesson in creating compelling learning materials. Make it fun! While it might be hard to create your very own augmented reality game, try adding gamified elements to your learning content. Yes, engaging millennials with gamification actually can work. In 2017, you better make sure the content in any presentation isn’t just simple text. What you put in your presentation is important. Very important. Combine the material your learners need to understand with a compelling story, inside a captivating format, with bits of interactivity – possibly even references to pop culture or attention-grabbing anecdotes – and you’re on the right track to keeping your learners excited throughout the course.

Mobile First

Take a guess, how many times do you think you look at your phone each day? If you’re like the average American, that number is 85. How close were you? If you add up all the short bursts of Facebook checking, e-mail sending, web browsing, and texting activity, you just might hit an astounding 4.7 hours of total time focused on your phone per day. It’s clear that many of us are addicted to our pocket-sized devices.

Pokémon Go succeeds because it’s where most of us already are: our phones. This dramatically increases the chance that a user will want to interact with it. And, not just once – but multiple times per day.

It’s hard enough to fight for a millennial’s attention – let alone keep it. If we design our training to meet our users where they are (hint, hint, on their mobile devices) – how much more effective could we be?

Problem? Meet Solution.

So – wondering how this applies to you? We all have training deficiencies in our organizations. An eLearning module isn’t guaranteed to be the best fit. And neither is an in-person workshop or a job aid. The best training for your organization is based entirely on your people. You need to figure out the medium, the content, the length and the frequency that resonates. Remember what I said above about mobile devices? Well, phones and tablets are for calls, texts, scrolling through Facebook, playing games and LEARNING, too. Create training that is most accessible to the learner, and they’ll refer to it more often … and guess what, you’ll be engaging millennials too. Once you determine what works, you’re golden.

I can’t help but get excited where we can combine online tools and training techniques. When fun and learning collide, that’s what Miley Cyrus would call, back in my middle school days of watching Hannah Montana: The Best of Both Worlds.

I’m a part of the millennial group and am always hungry for feedback. What did I miss about engaging millennials in learning and development? What are your experiences? Send me a note at dpfaltzgraf@rootinc.com or comment below with your thoughts.

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