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Gamification is Dead. Long Live Gamification.

Don't focus on silly, imagined metrics. Your employees want to be professionally engaged instead.

Gamification is the concept of adding a system of ranks, rewards, titles, points, stickers, or badges to an individual's social profile in the hopes of sparking pride as well as a competitive spirit. Gamification systems usually allow for the creation of requisites and accomplishments that need to be completed before digital goodies can be awarded.

 

While all the rage about 6 years ago, gamification has declined significantly. It has become apparent that consumers and employees have grown bored with points, stickers, badges, ranks, mayorships, titles, and other make-believe metrics.

 

A number of social networks that prided themselves on gamification have since fallen out of favor or restructured these points systems. When was the last time you cared about the leaderboard or stickers on Swarm? (Did you even know that Swarm is a rebranded version of Foursquare?)

 

Here, a Swarm user sharing accomplishments on Twitter:

 

Some enterprise software apps that made gamification front and center -- creating badges for employees' corporate social profiles, for example -- have also abandoned the idea in favor of interfaces that actually measure real accomplishments, motivations or engagement.

 

The reason: gamification is arbitrary, with no real rewards.

 

Why should employees get excited about unlocking the next level of a corporate training challenge when bonuses and raises -- and exciting work assignments -- continue to be scarce?

 

Instead, people want to be engaged by measuring their accomplishments in more meaningful ways. For example, L&D leaders can use their LMS's to create digital portfolios for each employee, so the employee can track his or her learning and measure that against peers in their industry.

 

If the learning includes courses that might be considered steps to a certification, professional designation, or degree, learning leaders can demonstrate their commitment to tracking an employee's progress. The employee can then use these insights for mapping his or her career with the company and beyond.

 

Indeed, the entire learning function itself can replace gamification in the corporate environment. Employees will feel rewarded and challenged with opportunities to increase learning. Don't give badges, points or titles: give them education instead.

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