When done correctly, gamification can take the most mundane tasks and inject them with fun and excitement. Applying game mechanics to non-gaming scenarios is a powerful tool that can increase motivation and competition, leading to increased engagement. In fact, reports suggest that over 60 percent of learners can be motivated by leaderboards and increased competition. Gamification could be the ingredient your L&D strategy is missing.

Knowing what not to do when implementing gamification is just as important as knowing what to do. Here are the five biggest mistakes people make when implementing gamification and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Unbranded Gamification

Some organizations award their learners badges that don’t sparkle with the colors of their company palette. At other companies, learners are climbing the rungs of an unbranded leaderboard. But these days, the best learning platforms make it easy to overlay your brand onto gamification features. There really is no excuse for beige badges and lousy-looking leaderboards.

If you fail to put your organization’s stamp onto gamification features, you miss an opportunity to personalize the learner journey. Personalization is key, not just for brand cohesion but also for generating learner buy-in. This way, learners receive recognition directly from the organization they work for. It’s the perfect pat on the back.

Non-personalized gamification can work against your ultimate goal of engagement. If any part of your learning environment feels out of place, it’ll detract from the credibility of your training. Therefore, it’s vital to find a white-label learning platform that’s fully customizable, from the home page to the most minute gamified details.

Mistake #2: Gamification That’s Lost the Plot

Another mistake many organizations make is thinking that adding gamification just means adding points, leaderboards and badges, but it’s so much more. It’s about using the elements that make games engaging. One of the most important elements of any video game is its addictive storyline.

If you don’t include stories in your training, you’re missing out on the chance to weave in an extra layer of engagement. Stories help make your training more immersive. Everyone enjoys stories – it’s part of human nature!

Wrap your content in an enticing storyline. You don’t need to be Charles Dickens or J.K. Rowling; simply create a fun plot and use it to deliver instruction. Add fun characters and tease your learners with cliffhangers, and you’ll have them on the edge of their seats.

Mistake #3: Gamification Without Recognition

Gamification that’s lacking recognition is not gamification. Part of what makes gamification so effective is that it tickles reward centers in the brain. To really make the most of the technique, publicly recognize and reward employees. Using a learning platform that has a social feed makes recognition easy; you can even award special one-time badges to recognize learners who have gone above and beyond.

Mistake #4: Lonely Gamification

Many people are driven to compete against themselves and beat their own scores, but gamification comes into its own when you introduce an element of competition. Pit your learners against each other, and you’ll watch them fight for the number-one spot on the leaderboard. Feed their competitive spirits, and your learners will go hunting for every badge. They’ll be sure to complete every piece of content and earn every point possible. Encourage this spirited competition by offering real-world rewards that are worth fighting over.

Mistake #5: Inconsistent Gamification

Too many organizations give up on their gamification or apply it without a predetermined strategy. This approach can mean they sprinkle enough gamification on their platform to engage learners at the start, but as participants progress deeper into the platform and complete more learning, the fun stops, and the gamification runs out. Learners won’t keep coming back out of habit. They need the constant thrill of a reward to lure them onward.

Alternatively, the rewards attached to content might be inconsistent. Again, this situation can put learners off their training. Place yourself in your learners’ shoes and imagine completing a curriculum worth 1,000 points and then completing another, even bigger curriculum, only to win 30 points!

This sloppy approach to gamification happens all too often. Luckily, it’s easily remedied. You simply need to work out a gamification strategy. Determine how and when you’ll award points and badges. The most important point is to keep your gamification consistent throughout the whole of your platform – if you do, you’ll have learners devouring content in no time.

Personalized game elements, an addictive storyline, recognition and rewards, social functionality, and a considered gamification strategy that’s consistently applied will help you dial engagement up to eleven.