The other day I had a chance to have a conversation with Roni Floman of GamEffective. GamEffective was established in 2012 and works to change the way companies motive employees and the way managers align their teams with company goals. GamEffective uses real time performance tracking and goal setting to create employee engagement and improved employee performance. They have offices in Israel (Raanana) and the US (Charlotte, NC). Here is some of the conversation.
Kapp: Can you please explain a little about what GamEffective does and how it got started?
Floman: GamEffective is a gamification platform for both learning and performance management – sometimes it is used for one of the two (e.g. just learning) and sometimes for both (learning and performance). On the learning side, it uses gamification to gamify the consumption of microlearning – like “spoon feeding” learners one piece of microlearning at a time. It can be used as an additional engagement layer on top of an existing LMS, or as a replacement for one.
If the LMS is a system of record, then elearning gamification is both an engagement layer and an “intelligence” layer, since it automatically makes decisions about what to serve learners, based on their activities in the system (and any other pertinent data in any enterprise system, including performance results).
GamEffective got started as a gamification platform for call centers, offering gamification for performance and motivation – like a fitness tracker for work. Very quickly, we realized that, through tracking performance results, we can tell when employees needed more training – and that there was a great need for gamified learning. For instance, to offer learning to remedy performance issues, to introduce new products so employees can offer them and also for onboarding. Over time, we added modules to support the ability to drive learning that is tied to actual performance, to support onboarding, spaced learning and more. At some point, we had a full elearning gamification solution that tied into performance metrics.
Kapp: In your opinion, what makes gamification so effective for learning?
Floman: L&D professionals are facing several challenges that gamification can answer. First, they need to drive learning engagement – they need to push employees to learn and grab their attention. Second, they want to provide the right learning at the right time. Third, they want to be able to show that learning has an impact on performance.
Gamification addresses all these issues. It solves the engagement problem by serving bits of microlearning to employees. The solution it offers is pushing content to employees, one bite at a time, each one no longer than several minutes. The push happens through the gamification platform, its narrative, notifications, game elements, social elements and more. Gamification offers the right learning at the right time since the platform “knows” what the employee should know, what learning needs to be repeated, and how the employee is doing in general (gamification can tie into performance KPIs from existing enterprise systems and get a realtime picture of how the employee is doing). It uses all this data to “choose” the next best learning item the employee should consume. On the third challenge, since the system measures both performance and learning activities, it can help L&D tune learning to impact performance and also prove the impact of performance.
We see very high engagement rates for gamified elearning – our competitors report the same. The reason is that gamification (with its many elements) can quite easily encourage learning completion and also serve micro-chunks of learning effectively, which is how employees would like to consume learning.
Kapp: GamEffective is able to tie into an employee’s actual performance on the job and Gamify that performance, can you explain or give an example of how that works?
Floman: Let’s imagine an employee needs to be familiar with products A, B and C in order to do their job well. Maybe they are selling a product, maybe they need to consult clients on how to best make use of these products and maybe they are servicing them. In any case, they need to know these products well. Now let’s assume the company also has a sales or service tracking system in place. In this case, the company will know whether the employee has performed certain activities with regards to products A, B and C. What gamification can do is this: first serve “plain gamified” microlearning upon the introduction of a new product A, B or C. As time goes by, the system tracks real time employee performance (together with a daily dose of some retrieval practice, so whatever was learned won’t get lost). When performance lags, the system offers learning accordingly. For instance, an employee that isn’t offering product C as they should can get more training about it, or about how to offer it.
Another example is error rates. Imagine that we can see an employee isn’t using enterprise software correctly, through a certain error rate pattern. In this case we can apply learning that remedies that issue by providing the right learning, forming the right habits or micro-behaviors etc.
Kapp: GamEffective uses a variety of game elements to motivate employees including” “red” and “green” days, performance prediction and giving kudos to other employees…can you talk about some of these elements.
Flowman: If you look at many learning platforms, you’ll notice many offer “gamification” – and when you check that a little more, you see that they offer points badges and leaderboards. However, these aren’t enough – they are important but can’t drive long term engagement. One reason is that they are extrinsic, and those types of motivation drivers tend to wear off. Competing against yourself is always more effective than competing with others. Additionally, points, badges and leaderboards can become meaningless at some point – do you care if you have more or less points than another 300 people for a non-core activity? That’s why we try to offer many gamification elements, focusing on intrinsic motivation.
Some elements are green-day-red-day (encouraging reflection during the workday), betting on yourself, challenging a peer etc. Others are more about what we call engagement automation – which is to have the system issue notifications per audience and the activity of the user.
Kapp: What advice would you have for instructional design students who are just entering the field?
Floman: The quality of the content is the most important. Gamification is important and powerful, but high quality content is the most important thing. Another thing to keep in mind is time to launch. Great content shouldn’t be prepared at the cost of time. I think that the effective use of microlearning can address both these issues. Another of my favorites is micro – behaviors. We’re using learning to create effective work habits. For each microlearning piece you deliver try to think of a micro behavior that would instill a habit and workplace meaning into what the person has just learned.