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Using Gamification for Employee Onboarding

With so much effort put into attracting and hiring the right talent, contact center employee onboarding – the stuff that happens after the employee joins - is sometimes forgotten. But good employee onboarding is like time travel: time warps, everyone jumps over the “clueless phase” and suddenly employees know their job and do it well.

Why onboarding

Onboarding isn’t only about shrinking the time it takes an employee to get to productivity and it isn’t a fancy name for orientation; it usually reduces turnover and increases engagement since it takes the edge off those first days on the job, first days that can be pretty overwhelming for a customer contact center employee. Done well, onboarding is an opportunity to communicate  the company’s brand, culture and goals.

Onboarding makes employees familiar with the grander corporate goals (the essence of their job: keeping customers happy) and the job functions they need to know to perform their job. It contains tasks that help the employee become familiar with the organization and their job. All this gives employee a sense of quick success and productivity.

Recognizing onboarding’s importance, many companies even invest in pre-boarding, to ensure the employee is engaged with the organization before hiring.  Pre-boarding can be gamified as well.

The secret sauce of gamification

Enterprise gamification, the application of game mechanics to enterprise applications is known to increase engagement and encourage behavior change.

Gamification isn’t play and isn’t a video game stuck on top of an app. It is using game mechanics to communicate and encourage behavior.  While most people think of sales or contact center gamification in the context of competition, with leaderboards, badges and contests, on-boarding is a classic application of enterprise gamification. Why? Because gamification and training go hand in hand.

The secret sauce? Gamification is really good at getting people to complete tasks (view a presentation, undergo training, complete details) and results in the nice fuzzy feeling of a job well done. That’s why relegating gamification to competition scenarios (fastest call resolution) can miss the point of using it for onboarding.

Here are some tips and tricks:

1. Think beginner level

99% of the readers of this article have already experienced game onboarding. Not sure? Think again. Think about any digital game you’ve ever played: angry birds, bejeweled, Super Mario. What were beginner levels like? Real easy. Why? Because:

  • Game developers wanted to create a quick win. Quick wins are habit forming – you’ll want to do everything to see and hear the cue that you’ve successfully completed a level.
  • Simple beginner levels are, in fact, onboarding. Through each quick win, with each level focusing on one basic skill (flinging a red bird, tossing a yellow bird, catapulting a blue bird), players gain a sense of mastery, autonomy and skill. This is exactly what onboarding is about.
    What if you could make the employees’ first days as easy and satisfying as a beginners’ level? Their onboarding and training will have better results in the longer term.

2. Think E-learning

You’ve prepared the materials for contact center training, you think to yourself. What else can gamification offer? Can’t new hires just sit at a table – you’ll offer coffee and cookies – and go through the files? Gamification can do much more than that. Quite a lot, in fact.
Whether they are being trained on product specs, communication channels, expressing empathy with customer issues or managing difficult callers, rote completion of learning materials is mostly partial. Gamification has surprising ROI: more materials will be viewed, and quizzes and team work can be used to show how the material is applied.

3. Think team onboarding

One of the best onboarding methods is to create a learning competition between teams – people at the same table, for instance. They will go through learning and onboarding together, answer questions about training materials and review each other’s answers. Collaboration to increase team learning scores can easily get you to 100% completion of material review tasks .

4. Think  continuous onboarding

No one said that contact center onboarding should end in the first days/weeks of work. Actually, many contact centers we’ve spoken to put new hires in the simpler, asynchronous channels (email, social networks) where the response isn’t immediate. Over time people move into the channels that require more knowledge – answering calls, dealing with technical complexity. Breaking onboarding for each channel into pieces – and doing so with gamification -  can integrate training into the employee’s workday. Using training as a pre-condition – to unlock a challenge or a leaderboard or a team contest – can do wonders for on the job training and on the job onboarding.

Gamification and onboarding go hand in hand. Make use of the ability to create a lasting good first impression with employees and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.