Playing at safety: Gamification of health and safety training

Playing at safety: Gamification of health and safety training

GamificationRegardless of an organisation’s size and sector, health and safety training is an essential activity. Providing staff with greater expertise and knowledge is arguably more important for those involved in higher risk industries. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide information, instruction and training wherever possible to ensure the workforce remains free from harm.

Traditional training methods such as classroom-based teaching are not particularly well suited to organisations that need to prioritise health and safety. Members of staff often struggle for motivation, while the business itself must find the time and resources to implement employee training

More and more businesses, therefore, are looking at different training approaches, such as gamification. While some employers may consider workplace fun to be counterintuitive when culturing a safe environment, gamification combines the need for training with more interesting and engaging learning materials.

When it comes to health and safety training, most organisations will formulate a plan that relates to the skills and knowledge needed to avoid accident and injury. This can involve looking at previous instances of workplace injury, near misses, or cases of ill health to learn lessons and gain greater insight into the risks that exist.

When this process is complete, you will know exactly what information or expertise is required for staff to comply with health and safety procedures. The real obstacle is choosing a method of training that effectively teaches employees about these risks and how to avoid them

By injecting some fun into training and providing the workforce with rewards, each and every employee will not only be more likely to take part in learning, but also complete the tasks in front of them. Gamification gives members of staff a challenge to complete, provides a framework on how to overcome it, and then offers instant gratification at the end.

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It’s all in the game: Gamification for business

We all love to play. We like to win, we need to achieve, and to move forward. These are simple, fundamental human emotions. Simple, but also powerful.

We know that gamification plays a huge part in digital learning and in engaging and enthusing employees. We know it to be a powerful tool in learning and development. Gamification is a key element to Wranx, driving users forward through rewards, badges and leaderboards, encouraging competition between peers and teams. It’s a simple idea but incredibly effective, and certainly not just the latest fad.

When we make work fun, we get better work. We can increase engagement and motivation in employees and also use gamification as a valuable tool when engaging with customers or clients. There are a wide variety of ways to implement it in the workplace, with an equally broad range of desired outcomes.

Not all gamification methods are digital, though. In 2016, City University London, (in conjunction with the NHS and Focus Games Ltd) developed a board game for nurses called The Drug Round Game. The game was devised with staff members’ input, and its face-to-face nature allowed users to share best practice, experiences and knowledge – something not always provided by digital methods of training. The game addressed issues such as medication errors, drug calculations and medicine management. These are essential skills which require constant refreshing and practice and peer support throughout the game helps colleagues keep up to date.

As a tool for business, the power of gamification isn’t limited to just learning and development. There are many ways for organisations to harness its power, whilst bearing in mind the engagement, motivation and commitment it encourages. When Ford Motor Company (Canada) introduced a gamification element to their Learning Management System to train staff about new models, options, technologies and finance systems, they saw a 417% increase in learning engagement, which enhanced customer satisfaction and drove an increase in sales.

 

Compliance

Following recent changes to British pension law, Kingfisher – owner of B&Q and Screwfix – used gamification to raise awareness of the changes amongst its 36,000 employees. The game, Bolt To The Finish, centred around a family of bolts (as in metal, not Usain!) being chased by a nut and was created to show the benefits of pension saving. The best results were received when people saved for their pensions early, so the younger characters had an easier time in the game than the older characters. Kingfisher were very pleased with the results, with 20% of their staff choosing to pay into their pension at maximum contribution level, and 78% reporting that the game had encouraged them to think about saving for the future.

 

Human Resources

Gamification can help engage potential recruits from admission through to induction and beyond. It provides an easy solution to assessment for tracking performance as well as professional development. We also know that enhanced engagement can bring better retention. Through gamification, that process can start from induction.

 

Sales

Nobody loves to compete more than a salesperson. By rewarding the employee not only for the deal, but for each step of the process towards that deal, companies can further drive sales. Also, encouraging collaboration between peers in the sales department can enhance the completion of deals. Again, gamification can help with this.

 

Marketing

We live in a world driven by digital social interaction, and there is value in employees being encouraged to push the business through their social networks, sharing information through advocacy. We may also see companies using gamification aspects to their marketing to customers, building the customer’s engagement and encouraging return trade. 

 

Innovation

Every business seeks new ideas, new ways to do business. The top ideas and innovations in business can be rewarded, and collaboration across teams and departments encouraged.

The benefits to organisations of a gamified workplace culture are great. Companies will see increased levels of engagement, better retention, and happy, enthused staff. Employees will feel included and encouraged if they see their efforts rewarded, and all of these factors can drive an increase in productivity.

 

So to conclude, gamification works. It works for employers and employees alike. It provides employers with a new approach to employee engagement. It can form the basis of a new collaborative and cooperative way of working: a connected, social workforce. Obviously gamification isn’t just a simple answer to all the challenges of doing business. However, when targeted at the right issues and with the right design, gamification works.

Though gamification has been around for some time now, there is certainly more to come. With the advent of VR, AI and wearable tech, we will see many more examples of the innovative use of gaming principles, and in many ways, we stand at the beginning of an exciting journey.

 

It’s certainly not a case of Game Over yet!

Video gamers have the skills to pay the bills

Gamers are part of a large and diverse community. They come in all shapes and sizes, (as well as both sexes). People who enjoy playing video games live perfectly normal lives, with the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as everyone else. They’re quite different from the stereotypical vision we have of someone who enjoys playing video games.

We all have that vision. The lonely gamer, sitting in his room (for some reason, it’s always a he in our stereotype), with the curtains drawn, toiling away through the levels. He lives in the dark, so has no need for day or night. Occasionally, for a break, he’ll listen to some loud and heavy music, usually metal, before immersing himself back in the virtual world on the screen. His skin is pale from lack of exposure to sunlight, he lives on fast food, rarely leaves the house, and is happy to lead a solitary and sedentary life.

 

In fact, video gamers may actually have an edge on the rest of us, particularly when it comes to learning. Recent studies tell us that gaming can help increase brain function and problem solving skills. Further benefits can include an improvement to spatial reasoning, memory, strategic planning, and attention span.

Obviously, the path to these benefits begins at an early age. Children are learning through play from the moment they develop motor skills. Later, games such as Minecraft can help children with critical thinking and aid in their understanding of cooperation and collaboration, as well as problem solving. The positive aspects of gaming can help students with Special Educational Needs to control their emotions and help them focus in order to perform better in lessons. The research also tells us that different styles of gameplay bring different benefits.

 

 

Action games such as Call Of Duty or FIFA can sharpen mental reflexes and strengthen our multitasking skills as well as building attention span and accuracy. We improve our ability to predict, anticipate and react. Some research suggests that such games can even improve vision.

 

 

Platform games such as Angry Birds boost the function of the brain by using problem solving, boosting memory and attention to detail. The concept of unlocking special rewards by reaching certain levels, as we see in the Mario Bros games drives us forwards toward the next stage, increasing and boosting our skills as we go. Our motor skills and reaction times are improved by having to avoid pitfalls and obstacles.

 

Role play games are more strategic, working on the longer term and encouraging us to think socially, analytically, and in a more cooperative way while presenting us with difficult choices. The focus here is on cause and effect, rather than simply on reward and gratification. By facing these ethical choices, the player is forced to consider consequence; another aspect we can utilise in our every day working lives.

 

 

Real time games make us think on our feet, making prioritised choices and planning ahead. We are encouraged to collaborate and cooperate in order to reach a certain goal. We succeed at games such as World of Warcraft, by completing quests, each of which demand different skills, so our ability to multitask is essential. As we all know, slaying dragons can be a pretty tough job, so we need to use all the skills we can!

 

We enjoy competition, it’s a part of us. We like to compete against others, just as we enjoy striving to improve our own performance. Through video gaming we sharpen our skills and reactions, sometimes without even knowing that process is taking place. Gamification is a key element of Wranx, driving users forward through the levels, completing drills and receiving awards. It encourages competition between individuals, as well as across teams. By adding this competitive element to learning and development, users become more engaged and enthused by the learning, and are naturally driven to achieve better results.

When it comes to video gamers, our stereotypical ideas certainly fall wide of the mark. Our friend Player One may just have an edge on the rest of us in some ways. His solitary pastime could well be giving him the skills to pay the bills. Which, let’s be honest, is always better than Game Over.

Gamification in education – what’s in it for students?

We all know about gamification, it has been around for some time now. The world of Learning and Development knows gamification well. They’re like old friends in a mutually beneficial relationship. As familiar to each other as a comfortable pair of slippers. Gaming technology is built into our every day, as we see, for instance, in the many Health and Wellbeing apps we use. We know that gamification can enthuse and inspire better performance in employees, can make training personalised and therefore more reactive. We know it is adaptive and motivational. As a force for change, it has many positive attributes from which we can all benefit. There could also be benefit in bringing gamification into the academic setting.

Teachers, at first, may see gamification as frivolous, or even childish, a waste of time. And it is true that in the formal setting of academia, it is a relatively new development. But schools and colleges are constantly seeking new ways of boosting student engagement and motivation. The delivery of knowledge and ideas needs all the help it can get, and heads, teachers and governing bodies should feel happy to embrace new thought, new directions and developments, particularly if it helps with the long term goals of raising standards and higher grades. The use of game mechanics and dynamics, and the incorporation of these elements into a non-game setting, ie education, can go a long way towards achieving those goals.

Let’s be clear though. Gamification is not simply about playing games. It is, in this instance, more about using the data that gaming technology gives us, and putting it to use within an educational framework.

But what’s in it for them? What’s in it for the student? Why would they want to get involved? Well, firstly, it is understood that by using gaming ideas to make a certain point, or to highlight a particular course area, we are, of course, using the students’ language. We are harnessing a small fraction of their world, their experience, to assist us in our cause. In the US, 67% of households play video games regularly. So, how to attract, engage and enthuse the students through gamification becomes the challenge for teachers.

Key aspects of gamification, such as terminology, mechanics and logic can help, and by using them to provide direction, and supporting the students’ involvement with rewards and acknowledgement, we are able to fully engage students in the process.

 

Game Terminology

Using the terminology of gaming is key to the idea taking root and proving successful. So that, rather than talk of ‘modules, tasks, assignments and tests’, we should think more in terms of words such as ‘challenges, mission, voyage, levels, goals’. The language of gaming is less threatening, more focussed on achievement, more exciting and entertaining. By building this terminology into the process, it feels less like course work. Students are always keen to pit themselves against their peers, competing for better results, all the while driving themselves and each other forward. That part of the process is aided by the use of the mechanics and logic behind gaming.

 

Game Logic and Mechanics

The logic of gaming is really quite simple. Games get more difficult as you play them, each level harder than the last. By building this effect into learning, across the course modules, and into each level, we are able to supply students with an upwardly moving structure. Building knowledge and understanding of the course work at each level is essential. This is, of course, a key aspect of more traditional formal learning.  The mechanics of gaming usually follow a path. From the setting out of the task, to final progression onto the next task, the outline is common. Elements such as challenge, competition, feedback, reward and progression are all inbuilt aspects of gaming. By harnessing this path and applying it to the coursework, gamification takes our student on a familiar journey, a well worn path.

 

Rewards of the game

Competition is a part of our natural make up, and when we compete successfully, we want to feel like we’ve achieved. We want rewarding. When gamers play and complete each level, they are used to receiving rewards such as points, badges, extra powers or strengths, or a higher position on a leaderboard. This process gives them the satisfaction of a job well done, and spurs them forward to the next stage, the next challenge. Students also respond well to the idea of competing against their peers, as well as challenging themselves.

 

Feedback from the game

Through data analysis gamification provides us the opportunity for feedback, and for that feedback, and indeed the subsequent stages, to be personalised. This means that through access to that data, each students’ learning can be accurately assessed and developed in preparation for progress through the coursework.

By using all these different elements together, we are able to provide an alternative, a ‘booster jab’ to traditional formal learning structures, and we will find students enthused and encouraged toward further learning, further development, and hopefully, to better grades.