Why gamification makes onboarding more effective

A guest post from Christopher Herbert at Technology Advice

Onboarding is more than just hiring people, and more than just increasing company output. Each new hire instantly becomes a participant in, and contributor to, company culture, and each new hire must become sufficiently engaged in their new job in order to reach peak productivity. If they fail to assimilate properly into the company culture, then every other employee will be affected, and you’re likely to eat the cost of hiring.

This is why gamification, and particularly employee engagement software, is best deployed early, during the onboarding process. If you fail to engage and interest a new employee, you’ll have a difficult time getting them to engage later.

Remember, first impressions are everything. If you create a workplace environment that’s engaging from the beginning, then your new hires will carry that with them throughout their interactions within the company. But if you fail to establish a positive outlook from the start, it will be much more difficult to develop that mindset later on, and they will likely have left by then anyway.

Fortunately, you can apply gamification techniques to virtually any part of your onboarding process. The portions that gamification is particularly well suited to are culturalization, socialization, training, and new hire tasks.


If your company already partakes in competitive gamification techniques, such as a leaderboard, then injecting a new hire into that program can inspire them to catch up with their new co-workers in productivity. It will also give new employees an idea of what level of productivity is being achieved, which helps define their goals and expectations.

To get more co-workers directly involved in a new hire’s onboarding, organize team-based challenges that serve as introductions to your project management style. Such efforts provide incentive for seasoned employees to share tips and tricks.


If your company uses one of the many networking and social tools designed to increase employee interaction, then including a new hire in that network can help them feel like part of the office community.

Since these tools are designed to promote positive feedback, such as a virtual high-five for joining the company — or something more humorous like an award for surviving the first company lunch — any interaction should help the new hire form relationships with other employees.


The goal of training is to maximize retention, which is directly related to engagement. Companies with involved product categories or work methods can make the training more exciting by intertwining informational sessions (videos, tutorials, demonstrations, etc.) with quizzes and the opportunity to “level-up” while tracking their progress as they master various categories.

Spreading the training out over a longer period of time helps to keep the amount of information delivered at once to a minimum. Having smaller, more manageable bits of information increases retention, especially when you regularly revisit the material. Learning management systems can help you construct and distribute intricate curriculums.

Instituting a badge or point system will guide a trainee through the materials, and, if the training is of high enough importance, you can implement performance based rewards to encourage higher engagement. New trainees will jump at the opportunity to show their capabilities and work ethic.

New hire tasks

The simplest way to gamify the onboarding process, and something many HR departments already implement, is to include a checklist of the tasks for a new hire when assimilating within the company. These could include getting their company photo taken, formatting their email signature, organizing their computer, etc. These tasks can be checked off a physical list, or done through an online project management tool.

In order to add an element of fun to an otherwise boring checklist, consider making it a timed-challenge, rendering the tasks as a progress bar or unveiling a small reward at the end of the list.

All these factors of onboarding can be addressed with gamification either manually, or with full-blown employee engagement software. The cost of losing employees who struggle to reach peak productivity in your environment is too great not to consider ways to improve the onboarding of new hires.

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