Using Gamification to Successfully Onboard New Employees

Written by: Christina Merhar
Published on April 9, 2015.

New employee onboarding seems like a simple step - welcome employees on their first day, show them the ropes, and put them to work. But hold the phone. Did you know that a quarter of employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment?How_To_Onboard_Employees

That’s why a structured onboarding program is a vital part of your small business’s retention strategy. Why? It’s a proven method to engage employees and prevent quality new hires from jumping ship during the introductory period.

So, how do you onboard new employees on a small business budget? Recently, we wrote about the importance of engaging employees quickly. Another effective onboarding method is to use gamification. In this article, we’ll discuss how to onboard employees by making it a game.

Note - The following is from our free resource, The 20 Greatest Recruiting and Retention Tips. If you'd like to download the full resource, click here.

What Do You Mean, Gamification?

Gamification is a hot HR trend right now. So, what does it mean?

Simply put, gamification means applying elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition, rules of play) to encourage engagement. Gamification helps make dry or challenging work fun.

Using Gamification to Onboard New Employees

Let’s face it, the first few days of employment are not always the most fun - HR policies, paperwork, and training. If you’re like most small businesses, however, you don’t have a budget for fancy rewards or incentives. The good news is it doesn’t cost much (or anything at all) to structure your onboarding in a competitive spirit.

For example, you could structure employee onboarding to be a game-like process with levels or points when they complete different activities, or timelines and deadlines for achieving certain milestones.

This helps create competition and camaraderie, especially if a class of new hires starts on the same day. It also makes the process of learning fun and engaging.

Related: Employee Retention - The Real Cost of Losing an Employee

Additional Onboarding Tips

In addition to using gamification, consider these employee onboarding tips:

  • Establish a healthy employee to manager relationship (most employees leave managers, not companies, afterall).

  • Incorporate socialization - have some fun!

  • Engage employees quickly to reach productivity faster.

  • Have the employee’s workstation set up on their first day.

Related: 75% of Employees Feel 'Off-Course' - What This Means For Retention


An effective way to onboard employees on a small business budget is to make it a game. Use gamification techniques to engage employees from day one. The result? You’ll give them the training and mindset they need to become a productive and happy employee.

What are your tips for employee onboarding on a small business budget? Leave a comment below!

Originally published on April 9, 2015. Last updated April 9, 2015.


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