For most organizations, the onboarding phase of an employee’s tenure is make-or-break — for the employee and the company. Trying to increase knowledge retention and employee engagement while shortening the time it takes to get people up and running can be a daunting challenge. Despite substantial investments in time and money, many onboarding programs are ineffective at helping new employees retain key information and motivating them to be engaged with the organization.

Brandon Hall Group’s Impact of Strategic Onboarding Study found that, on average, companies suffer about a 12% voluntary attrition rate among new hires and 51% of companies say most attrition occurs within the first six months. We’re not doing a great job getting people integrated into the organization with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful.

Companies with stronger-performing organizational KPIs are more likely to make the onboarding process a learning experience, rather than emphasizing task completion and assimilation. Understanding competency gaps and developing personalized learning programs are integral parts of onboarding for these high performers.

Gamification has proven to be an effective addition to onboarding. In conjunction with more formal programs, gamification can engage learners in the onboarding experience and help them retain more information. According to the onboarding study, 13% of companies currently use gamification in onboarding, and 34% say they plan to add it over the next 12 months or so. 

When we look at those companies, we find that have far better results than those that do not and have no plans to do so; for instance, 62% of those who say their new-hire engagement is up, versus 48% of those that do not; 47% say their new-hire retention is up versus 30% of those that do not and 55% of those using gamification say they have shortened time-to-proficiency compared to 30% who do not use gamification in onboarding. 

Gamification gives employees a different type of motivator for engaging in onboarding training, as well as opportunities to retain more knowledge by applying it in different and rewarding ways. Additionally, gamification typically has a heavy social element to it which is key to most onboarding programs that want to bring people into the team.

Sometimes cost and development-time challenges come up when organizations try to bring gamification to their onboarding programs. Add to that the lack of required skills for doing gamification.

To get a sense of what goes into gamification, you can visit Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Silver Preferred Provider Upside Learning to learn more, as well as download a gamification eBook here. They have also developed a Framework for Gamified Induction that overcomes the challenges of cost and development-time to create fast, effective, and cost- efficient gamified onboarding programs.   

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.