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Professional Development Can Be Fun

Incentivize Your Employees with a Gamified Professional Development Strategy

by Rahi Raj | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 3

July 1, 2014

Many companies struggle with developing effective professional development strategies that actually engage their employees. This article investigates what exactly professional development is and how it differs from the traditional trade and apprenticeship training. Organizations can can learn lessons from the consumer space to develop a strategy that will significantly hike engagement rates and increase the productivity of their training and professional development agenda.


9:15 am — Here we go again; another day of mandatory training. Nothing I learn here applies to my daily operations...

9:17 am — When will this end? 

Unfortunately, this scenario is not a new one. Your company has likely carefully planned and executed professional development courses to help your staff become more efficient and productive, yet employee participation and engagement rates remain low. How can you increase employee participation and promote a healthy professional development environment in the workplace?

What Is Professional Development and How Can It Help?

Professional development differs from its predecessors — trade and apprenticeship training — in the way that it is presented and when it takes place. More traditional training happens before you can fully perform in a given role. Professional development happens along the way, in the midst of performing that role.

Many workers still identify professional development as a burden — but it should serve as
a benefit.

Professional development should serve as an incentive for employees to acquire new knowledge and skills, alleviate stress, and promote a healthier work environment. Many workers still identify professional development as a burden and a hindrance to their productivity. It’s important to help employees recognize the benefits.

To encourage employees to participate, take inspiration from the consumer space. In retail, there is no convincing or selling needed for a customer who already knows what he or she wants. Likewise, the best way to increase employee participation rates is to incorporate training into the company’s culture and way of thinking so that it becomes fun. And one of the best ways to make professional development fun is to use gamification.

Applied Gamification

Gamification is an engagement technique that strategically appeals to natural human desires —competition, achievement, status, self-expression, and altruism. It encompasses the application of game-like techniques, thinking, and mechanics in non-game contexts such as education and business. The success of gamification can be seen with mobile applications like Waze and Foursquare.

Waze, a GPS-based navigation application, encourages users to log their miles and communicate road conditions to help other drivers while climbing up a ladder of achievements based on a points system. Waze’s gamification elements provide no financial advantages but encourage collaboration and competition. In less than a year, Waze went from 20 million users to nearly 50 million users.1

Foursquare promotes awareness by awarding badges for checking into locations — the more you check in at a specific place, the higher your rank. Inspired by positive user responses, Foursquare expanded by inviting companies, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, to join in its gamification strategy.

Heeding previous success, corporations can implement rewards-based training applications to encourage employees to have fun with professional development.

Planning for Gamification

Ace-Pros, Inc. is a consultancy focused on strategic planning and implementation projects. For results in professional development, we recommend pairing your strategic gamification plan with our platform: a pluggable and versatile framework for hosted applications as well as mobile devices.

To find out how you can use gamification to incentivize your employees with learning, compensation, health care, and so much more, contact us at


1 For more information, see and [back]

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Rahi Raj
Rahi Raj

Managing Partner
Ace-Pros, Inc.

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