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Gamification Badges Aren't the Same Thing as Digital Credentials

There has been a lot of talk about bringing "gamification" into the workplace, but what exactly is it, what good is it for the workplace, and how does it differ from real badges? Good questions.


Workplace gamification is the concept of using game-like apps to drive employee engagement. Most everyone has played a game on their smartphone from time to time and is at least vaguely familiar with the concept of earning coins, collecting badges, or leveling up as a reward for playing the game successfully. You can play against other people, compete in challenges, accomplish tasks.

Now, there are myriad platforms that make a game out of the business of working. Follow up on a certain number of leads per week, you'll earn a coin. Make a certain number of of sales calls and you'll level up on a digital scoreboard. Compete against coworkers, win a prize. The whole idea is to reward employees for doing their jobs. It's about keeping their eye on the prize. Many of the platforms use cartoon-like graphics, daily challenges, even raffles and flash contests to spice up the workday. If you've ever seen the smartphone app that features a cartoon couple in precarious situations and you need to choose how to help them (click on the water bucket to put out the fire on the stove, for example), you've got the right idea. It's about making the day-to-day job fun and competitive.

Is there actually a benefit to gamified rewards in the workplace? Getting a reward for making a certain number of sales calls might be a nice form of recognition in the short term. But many companies already have rewards in place for employees hitting their goals, be it a bonus, an extra day of PTO, a departmental happy hour to celebrate a great quarter, the list goes on.

Another problem with gamification is, the process doesn't foster growth in your employees, doesn't offer additional learning, and isn't about allowing them to acquire and master new skills.

Moreover, the badges, tokens, coins, or whatever measures success on those platforms don't have value outside of your own organization.

Digital Credentials

By contrast, digital credentials or digital badges that prove experience and expertise in real, verifiable skills do mean something, both to your employees and to your organization, when you're hiring to fill open positions.

Issuing badges for real achievement allows you to transform knowledge, skills, and achievements into digital credentials that empower your employees. These are verified skills that they can use to advance in your workplace and take with them to the next.

Here are just a few of the facets of digital credentials that gamification badges don't have:

  1. Third-party verification. Digital credentials are third-party verified, not self-reported. They prove the person has learned, experienced, or achieved whatever that badge stands for.
  2. Employee development. Earning digital credentials offers an opportunity for your employees to continuously learn and grow in their positions, something millennials crave. They want and need career development.
  3. Internal career paths. Digital credentials are a powerful tool for your HR department to put succession plans in place, populate your corporate ladder with internal people who are growing and learning in their jobs, and have a line on the perfect internal hire for their next open position.
  4. Informed outside hiring decisions. Organizations like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and many others rely on digital credentials to have an accurate and up-to-date snapshot of the skills of their workforce.

Gamification platforms detract from learning real skills. Real digital credentials bring real power and value into your workplace. If you're interested in learning more about how to use them, contact us.

[Learn more by reading Digital Credentials: Fact Versus Fiction]