​Training through gaming: How Walmart uses games to teach employees

Gamification can provide employee job training in an enjoyable and familiar way.

Gamification in design: How to segment individual tasks into a engaging user experience

In 2018, nearly 70% of Americans were playing online games, so it makes sense that companies have latched on to gamification as a training technique.

Gamification, or the practice of applying game mechanics outside the realm of games, can provide employee job training in an enjoyable and familiar way. It not only encourages employees to learn how to do their jobs better, but it can create enthusiasm and improve employee loyalty and retention.

SEE: Security awareness and training policy (Tech Pro Research)

Walmart's success story

Walmart is one company that successfully adopted gamification for their employee training.

"One of the goals we wanted to accomplish with gamification training was to give our associates the space to learn so that if they make a mistake, it doesn't impact customers," said Michelle Malashock, a Walmart corporate communications spokesperson.

At Walmart, employees download the gamification app and participate in simulated situations like responding to real life in-store scenarios without any actual on-the-job pressures and receiving performance scores in areas such as inventory management, customer satisfaction, and sales.

These trial-and-error simulations help store associates handle matters on the floor with increased confidence because employees already practiced these situational simulations in games.

"One of the things we emphasize in the game is the 'ten-foot rule,' which is the zone of floorspace an employee is in and responsible for, whether it's checking on shelf stock or helping customers in the area," said Malashock.

The game has become so popular with Walmart employees that they often play it on their breaks. "The feedback has been very positive, and employees are even using it to compete against each other in friendly competitions," said Malashock.

SEE: IT training policy (Tech Pro Research)

Gaming and IT

Gamification and online interactive training also have notable areas of application for IT. Among these areas are:

  • Teaching junior IT systems programmers how to develop scripts for provisioning virtual resources like operating systems, applications and storage to end users;
  • Training application coding techniques and corporate coding standards to new application developers;
  • Creating "gamified" people interaction scenarios for business analysts who must deploy well-honed interpersonal soft skills when working with end users
  • Creating gamified business scenarios and simulations that help IT professionals learn the ins and outs of the company's end business so that they can develop better business savvy;
  • Training end users in security and data compliance skills, especially in areas of edge computing where users are actually running and administering local tech.

Also see

Image: vadimguzhva, Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...