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Using Games to Improve Employee Onboarding

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Using Games to Improve Employee Onboarding

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Research earlier this year revealed the high cost of employee turnover. The research found that business units with low employee turnover achieved profits four times higher than units with high employee turnover.

So it’s clear that recruiting, and retaining exceptional employees matters. With an estimated 35% of new hires leaving their jobs within the first six months, it’s clear that on-boarding new recruits well is crucial to your bottom line.

How can gamification help?

Most companies have a pretty well established on-boarding process. The only problem with it is that it’s often interminably boring, and new recruits often see it as a chore that they have to do rather than a key part of them learning about their new employer and how to work effectively there.

Let’s start at the beginning, with the pre-boarding process. I’m sure you can picture the scene. You’ve got a new employee who’s giddy from having passed the interview process and is excited about starting their new work. Then they often get sent a pile of documents on rules and procedures that they’ll be expected to abide by.

They then progress from there and complete various induction events when they first start work. They’re told how to access systems and understand health and safety procedures. They meet their team-mates and are set objectives.

Most new employees are eager to impress in those early days, so game principles should be an easy sell. It’s widely believed that gamification should include some core elements:

  • progression
  • achievements and rewards
  • cascading information
  • countdowns
  • levels
  • quests


This should be a fairly easy one to achieve as it can be as simple as charting a path through the on-boarding process. It gives the new recruit a clear outline of what is to come and how far they are along the path.

Achievements and rewards

Often rewards in a gamified environment are trite and irrelevant. You know, things like a pin or a badge. Very nice, but you wonder who really cares? New hires want to make an impression, so try instead to offer them lunch with a senior member of staff. That way they get a reward (lunch), and can network as well. This is just an example of course, but it shows how rewards can take a more meaningful orientation.

Cascading information

As any seasoned gamer will tell you, you only have one thing to achieve at once (usually). Once you’ve achieved that, you’re given your next target to aim for, and thus information cascades down to the player. The on-boarding process should be the same.


Most companies want recruits to be comfortable as soon as possible so that they can start being productive. Establishing a deadline for completion of on-boarding tasks can help to achieve this as it gives both the new recruit and their colleagues a clear target.


Obviously traditional levels at work involve promotions and pay brackets. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll be using these as part of your on-boarding, you can still be creative in the things on offer for reaching particular levels.


People enjoy having tasks to do, and they enjoy even more when they make progress in those tasks. Having new recruits working on a task, especially if they have to do so as part of a team can be a great way to get them online with the company culture.

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. How can you make your on-boarding process both more enjoyable and more effective by using games?

Originally published at Work.com


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