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Gamification in Learning: Making Compliance Training More Effective and Fun

Compliance officers are constantly on the lookout for new and impactful ways of making ethics and compliance training more effective. The struggle to engage learners is an ongoing battle when it comes to mandatory education and training. One of the latest innovations in compliance training and education is gamification and focusing on integrating active learner participation within training. But what exactly is gamification, and can it really make mandatory ethics and compliance (E&C) training more effective and, dare we say it, more fun? 

What is gamification? 

Gamification is the application of game design elements to non-game contexts or activities by means of invoking a gameful experience using elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, and progression strategies. This is done to motivate and entice users and has begun to take prominence in a variety of contexts. 

Gamification in learning – Uses, benefits, and why it works 

The transformative effect gamification has is quickly finding widespread application across various environments –– especially learning. By integrating game elements into learning contexts, training programs are transforming learning into a journey by increasing attention, engagement, and motivation, and, as a result, enhancing retention amongst learners. 

Learning and retention vary for everyone and, as learning needs and preferences evolve, it is crucial to embrace innovative approaches rather than sticking to traditional formats that may not be suitable for everyone. Research conducted for LRN's 2024 Program Effectiveness Report indicates that training must evolve continuously and high-impact E&C programs worldwide continuously tailor and adapt training programs to align with employees' learning needs and preferences. As a result, the relatively new gamified learning approach is being adopted in schools, online courses, and corporate training to deliver content differently and cater to diverse learning needs. 

Benefits of gamification 

Corporate training programs across the globe benefit from gamification by transforming mundane sessions into actionable and memorable experiences, leading to better retention oof information and skills. When it comes to ethics and compliance, organizations can simply seek to communicate mandated information and legalese to employees or can strive for real behavior change and a culture of compliance by empowering employees with effective learner experiences. 

Gamified training captures and maintains learner attention in ways never done before. Elements like badges and score bars can make compliance training more interactive, encouraging active learner participation with the content throughout the duration of a course or microlearning. These gamelike elements and progression strategies also make the content more entertaining and enjoyable –– two words not often associated with compliance training. By transforming routine training into a captivating experience, gamification ensures that learners remain focused and inspired, leading to better retention and real-life application of the material. 

In addition to capturing and maintaining attention, gamified elements significantly boost learner motivation by creating a greater sense of self-achievement. Game-like features act as reward systems, fostering feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction among learners. Research shows that gamification inspires learners to work harder, making it an effective strategy in both educational and professional contexts. This heightened motivation leads to increased attention and effort, which often translate into improved performance and a deeper understanding of the material. Gamified elements also have been shown to stimulate genuine interest and positive attitudes toward the training content, enhancing the impact of the learning experience and ensuring that learners are not only engrossed in the content, but also motivated to excel. 

Overall, by fostering motivation, increasing attention and interest in content, and providing more opportunities for engagement, gamification in training leads to higher retention of information. This innovative approach to training has the power to make E&C programs more effective in ensuring compliance across organizations. 

Why gamification in training works 

Making compliance training both fun and more effective might sound like a dream, but it’s entirely achievable and can be made possible with gamification. It's important to understand how exactly this is possible by delving into the psychology of emotions and how they are tied to gamification's impact on learning and information retention. 

Research shows that emotions have a significant impact on our cognitive and thinking processes, including attention, problem-solving, learning, and memory. There are seven primary emotional systems that significantly enhance memory retention, including seeking, panic, and play. Each of these are common in game-like learning simulations, and the incorporation of gamified elements like score bars and badges can trigger these emotional systems. 

Studies have further delved into the effects of different emotions on the facilitation of learning: 

  • Positive emotions: Positive emotions can boost learning and academic performance by increasing attention, effort, motivation, and satisfaction. Some of the positive emotions stimulated through gamification in learning include excitement, anticipation, accomplishment, and pride. 
  • Negative emotions: Negative emotions also play a role in improved learning often by improving focus and effort by deepening the cognitive engagement with learning content. Negative emotions generally stimulated by gamification in learning include confusion and frustration. Additionally, mild or acute stress experienced during challenging game-like situations can further enhance mental stimulation and active participation by activating the body’s natural response mechanisms. These mechanisms include a heightened cognitive state that can sharpen focus, increase alertness, and drive learners to actively seek solutions, thereby facilitating deeper learning and retention of information. 

Emotions play a vital role in driving attention and motivation, which are essential for effective learning. Through gamification, training programs strategically leverage these emotions to create captivating and impactful learning experiences. 

How to make your compliance program more impactful 

In today's global business landscape, emerging risks are prevalent and effective risk mitigation is of utmost importance. A robust compliance program is vital for safeguarding against regulatory breaches and maintaining business integrity. Moreover, with risks constantly emerging and evolving, organizations must remain adaptable and innovative in their approach to compliance.  

It is also important for programs to regularly adjust and improve to meet the needs of diverse employee learning styles, needs, and preferences. Research indicates that strong performing, high-impact E&C training programs are quick to adapt, change, and innovate. Over the last few years, strong E&C programs have adapted to the challenges of remote and hybrid work environments. Best practices in training now include features like test-outs, personalized and tailored training, and shorter, more relevant sessions. Similarly, by embracing tools like gamification companies can better cater to changing learning preferences and equip employees to proactively mitigate risk and safeguard the business.  

There is a wealth of research demonstrating the effectiveness of gamification in learning contexts. By increasing engagement, motivation, and attention, gamified learning significantly improves retention. This approach to training holds immense power to increase the impact of your compliance program by deepening learner understanding of important information on key risk areas and effectively fostering a culture of compliance. 

Integrating gamification into your compliance program can make your training courses more effective but can also make them fun. At LRN, we’ve leveraged research on successful gamification and its effect on learning and have developed gamified courses on key risk areas to help you increase the impact of your compliance program. Purposefully designed to be interactive, entertaining, and visually striking, our gamified courses on anti-bribery & corruption and phishing include game elements and progression strategies like badges, score meters, and power bars that encourage active participation and transform learning into a journey. Each course also features striking design elements and entertaining themes to make the content enjoyable for learners. 

While the content of an E&C course might not inherently excite your employees, the delivery holds the power to do so. Effective training doesn't have to be tedious or boring; by harnessing the power of gamification, you can transform standard compliance training into an engaging experience that captures learners' attention, motivates them, and leads to higher retention.  

Learn more about updating your training strategy or demo one of our gamified courses today.