Looking for Better Employee (And Customer) Engagement? Let Them Play Games!

Training, in general, is a challenge for organizations large and small. But when they introduce additional factors, challenges increase significantly. Consider a large retailer with employees scattered throughout the country. Employees are generally low-paid but have a big impact on the customer. How can retailers (and others) economically gain impact from their customer service training efforts? By having fun!

In an article for HR Dive, Rila O’Donnell covers the impact of Sonic’s gamification efforts. Sonic used gamification to strengthen team performance in more than 3,500 restaurants nationwide.

Let Them Play Games!

Gamification is a relatively new focus in education and business. As the name suggests, it uses concepts of gaming to teach new concepts or new skills. But, as O’Donnell points out, it’s a technique that Sonic has been using for many years—to great effect!
Dr. Pepper Sonic Games involve a nine-month training program. The program incorporates quizzes, team and individual competition, and secret shopper evaluations. “Training culminates in a search for the ‘Final 12’ crews, who take part in a competition that concludes the games.”
Participating crews can supplement hands-on training with an online portal where they can compete in digital training modules. Like other digital games, participants work to rise to increasingly more challenging levels. The idea is to make the training as fun as possible to stimulate greater engagement.
It’s this kind of “fun” that encourages engagement and spurs learning. Add a competitive angle and, as Sonic has discovered, you’re likely to boost learning.

Boosting Teamwork

Teamwork is a key element of Sonic’s operations says VP of operations, Matt Schein. He points to teamwork as an important way to bring employees together to support mutual goals. The effort has yielded positive results. Sonic has improved food quality, guest service, and employee performance.
Many organizations have found ways to incorporate game elements into their training to make training initiatives more fun and impactful. It’s hard, if not impossible, to have a positive impact through training that fails to engage or excite participants.
Sonic’s Dr. Pepper Sonic Games is a great example of a company going all out to promote that kind of engagement.
How could you incorporate gamification into your training efforts?

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