I am looking for ways to improve the likelihood people will perform mundane but required workplace training. I am looking into gamification techniques.

My organisation requires that employees complete short online learning courses (think Health and Safety, Security Awareness, Risk Management, Company culture). We often find it a struggle to ensure everyone completes the required courses on schedule.

Admittedly the courses themselves can be a little dry. I can't change that yet. However I want to find some ways to improve the rate at which people complete the tasks.

I am familiar with gamification techniques and concepts.

  • What specific techniques and concepts of gamification might work in increasing training compliance?
  • what do I need to keep in mind when implementing them?
  • $\begingroup$ Related question $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jun 14, 2012 at 12:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Jay: I'm the employee that is taking these tests. Just last month a evacuation refresher came out with a video before the quiz. For the first time ever the video contained tasteful humor. I was not expecting that at all coming from my company and watched the whole thing happily. People in the office were even talking about it. $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2012 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @GregMcNulty Thanks for this information. I think that showing some personality is useful. These types of things might bring more people to the test for a time. Following that we need to make the actual task as smooth as possible. $\endgroup$
    – Jay
    Jun 18, 2012 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ Who are the employees using the learning courses? Tell us a little more about them. What country do they live in? How skilled are they with computers? What kind of work do they do? Is English their primary language? How old are your oldest users? How young are your youngest users? $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2012 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ What are your goals? How are you defining success? At what point will the Health and Saftey training be successful? Security Awareness? Can you say these goals in a way that can be measured using real numbers? That's fine if you need help determining your metrics. Just start with your goals and the audience and I'll help you get more specific. $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2012 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


For applied purposes, gamification can be captured within a self-determination theoretical framework. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is an influential theory of motivation which grew out of research on intrinsic/extrinsic rewards in the 1970's, and which has been applied to virtually every learning setting. The main proponents of SDT include Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, who in and of themselves have a lot of publications you may want to sift through.

Self-Determination Theory

SDT holds that people become motivated to engage in work based on three properties: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Autonomy refers to a desire to experience feelings of individual freedom in how and when to perform the task; Competence refers to a desire to experience feelings of control and mastery from performing a task; Relatedness refers to a desire to experience feelings of connection to others from performing the task.

Further, SDT also makes a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Ryan and Deci, 2000). In more complex settings, this distinction becomes extremely important. However, for the purpose of encouraging participation in "mundane, required workplace training," it is likely not necessary to consider intrinsic motivation. An analysis of the degree to which any external rewards employed in implemented gamification techniques may reduce intrinsic motivation to engage in mundane workplace training seems to me like shooting birds with cannonballs.

Evaluating Gamification

Following Aparacio et al. (2000), gamification techniques can be evaluated in terms of their motivational autonomy, competence and relatedness properties. A brief summary of their recommendations for evaluating gamification techniques follows.

  1. Identify the main objective.
  2. Identify one or more underlying objectives that are interesting to people.
  3. Select game mechanics that match the objectives and support autonomy, competence and relation.
  4. Analysis of the effectiveness gamification based on fun, quality indicators, satisfaction, and service quality.


Aparicio, A. F., Vela, F. L. G., Sánchez, J. L. G., & Montes, J. L. I. (2012, October). Analysis and application of gamification. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Interacción Persona-Ordenador (p. 17). ACM.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.


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