Employee Engagement: Gotta catch ’em all

It’s 10:00pm on a Tuesday night. As I pull into my neighborhood my headlights are met by the faint competing light of four phone screens scattered across the tennis court, a sight that has become almost expected since the release of the new Pokémon Go game. I can’t help but chuckle as I watch my neighbor trudge out of the tennis court into the poorly lit backwoods of our suburban neighborhood, slapping bugs and stepping over logs on his quest to level up his trainer. Dangerous? Maybe. Silly? Absolutely, but whether you are actively participating in this Pokémon craze, or just an entertained observer, this is huge for us in the training world.

By now we’ve all heard of the 90s nostalgic sensation that is breaking every mobile download and revenue record in the book. It not only topped the charts for revenue and user base, but did so faster than any other record holder. Early estimates have the game cruising at 7.5 million downloads and 1.6 million in daily revenue in the Apple iOS store alone. Even more impressive than its download rate is Pokémon Go’s ability to engage and retain its massive user base. According to research done by Similar Web, over 60% of app participants are logging in daily, neck and neck with social giant Twitter. Daily usage time continues to surpass staple social apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger by 30%. A further surprise in the mobile app’s arsenal of record breaking statistics is its ability to transcend age. With the 20 year anniversary of the Pokémon franchise not far behind us, the average player age ranges from mid to late 20s. But these aren’t just any users, this is corporate America. They’re our employees and coworkers (Or in this hilarious instance, your news anchor).

So what is it that has 9.5 million people so actively engaged? Outside of the timeless Pokémon brand, our culprits are the undoubtedly magnetic elements of gamification like points, locks, levels, and leaderboards. Over here at mLevel we have found these elements to be key in driving learner engagement levels of up to 96% for non-mandatory training programs for clients like JP Morgan Chase, IHG, Pearson and a handful of the Fortune 500; but what makes these elements such powerful drivers of behavior?

Let’s start with the central building block to all game mechanics, points. Studies done by both IBM research and the University of Chicago tell us that regardless of monetary value, people are just plain motivated by earning points. In the case of Pokémon Go, users are logging in to earn experience points, or XP, for their trainers. In our case, trainees log in an average of 4 – 6 more times than conventional learning content to earn Mastery Points, the value associated with knowledge gained within mLevel. The accumulation of these points brings us to the two greatest motivating elements within the gamification arsenal, locks and levels. By leveraging the principles of achievement motivation, these elements reward players for continued accumulation of knowledge by allowing them to progress through locked content throughout the game.


So whether you’re training Pokémon or employees, what can America’s search to “catch “em all” tell us about catching the attention of our trainees? It tells us that the strategic execution of gamification is effective in dramatically influencing human behavior. It tells us that if the Pokémon franchise can use gamification to get my typically inactive neighbor to venture into the hot muggy woods on a Tuesday night,  you can use these same techniques to get your employees motivated to finally log into that LMS, complete their eLearning courses, or just plain get excited about learning! All we ask is that if you do choose to capitalize on the magnetic effects of gamification, gamify responsibly… managers may be jealous of your engagement levels.

Sources: Cawley / Miller / O’Keefe / Rabideau / Schwartz / Tassi 

Read more: Find out how to use gamification within the mLevel platform…
[button]Learn how to use gamification with mLevel[/button]

Your learners are engaged, but what’s next?
[button]How game-based learning improves retention[/button]

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Empowering learners Together

We’re excited to announce that we are now a part of the Axonify family. To all of those who have supported the MLevel journey, we thank you!  Here’s to the next chapter and to furthering data-driven learning.