Gamifying training, onboarding can help boost engagement for Gen Z

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Last year, the first Gen-Zers who graduated from college entered the workforce — these new employees are tech-savvy and want an employer who can keep up.

As young workers get more technologically advanced and the workforce continues to embrace remote work, training and onboarding processes are vital for getting employees up to speed. But 38% of HR professionals say that remote onboarding is harder than in-person onboarding, and only 9% say that it is easier, according to a recent survey by the HR Certification Institute and MindEdge Learning.

With remote work here to stay for the foreseeable future, tech will play an increasingly large role, says Matt Fairhurst, CEO of Skedulo, a software and workforce management company.

“It’s about how to come up with and quickly implement really interesting technologies that help encourage the connectedness and engagement of employees,” Fairhurst says. “Not as a method of discipline, but simply as a way to lean into the expectations that remote workforces have — which is an incredible desire for engagement and connectivity across the organization.”

Fairhurst says that gamification will be the next big learning and development trend in training the younger workforce. Gamification incorporates incentives, rewards and competition, utilizing teamwork, leaderboards and badging to keep learners motivated and engaged — which younger employees are already being exposed to through social media.

“They’re all growing up with technology that helps them activate and engage their personal lives and communication, and gamification is such a huge part of that,” Fairhurst says. “If companies aren't thinking about that paradigm in the future, they're missing a huge opportunity to provide efficiency and productivity value, and engage their workforce.”

See also: Here’s how employers can attract Gen Z workers

For remote and desk-based workers, COVID-19 has amplified the challenges around maintaining an engaged and connected workforce regardless of generation. But reaching the youngest population of employees has come with its own set of unique struggles because of the high expectation they have of feeling connected to their organization, Fairhurst says.

“As younger generations have entered the workforce, we’ve seen this really aggressive lift in the expectations of employees,” he says. “Those expectations are not just the technology that employers provide them with to get work done, or the benefits offered, but also the level of engagement and connectedness they have with each other and with the organization itself.”

Companies are feeling the pressure to create a healthy, connected and enriched workforce during COVID and beyond. Relying on technology can help bridge the gap and create a cohesive feeling among workers.

“It's even more important when you're talking about [remote] workers because they are disconnected from an office environment of people that work together,” Fairhurst says. “That's really important when you hire, recruit and then onboard, because these are the very critical first moments of engagement that an organization has with an employee. So if you can introduce gamification in that process to amplify their level of engagement and connectedness, it's a huge win.”

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