LearnHack #4: Five heretical ideas to reward learners

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Published on 28/06/2017

User engagement in e-learning is a huge problem, and there are generally two approaches to deal with it: the Dogmatic and the Heretical Approach.

The Dogmatic Approach views workplace learning as a mundane activity that needs to be enriched with various elements of fun and entertainment. Very often, this approach includes a sort of a peer competition and recognition of the top performers in the end (have you tried our JollyDeck Compliance Challenge game yet?). While this approach does impact overall learning efficiency, it sometimes needs an additional push to achieve the required results. That’s where the Heretical Approach kicks in.

The Heretical Approach assumes that people are more likely to complete daunting jobs if they are offered proper rewards for their efforts. It turns out that this is only true to some extent, but if you ever decide to run your training as a competition and have some budget for rewards on the side, you might want to give it a try.

Of course, there’s a caveat. There aren’t many rewards that would do the trick (at least not for a reasonable amount of money). Certificates, badges, and other virtual rewards don’t really account for much in our lives. Branded pens, t-shirts, and other gimmicks are out of the question too. Amazon vouchers, double time, or an extra day off sound a bit better, but are they really worth fighting for?

Let’s face it—choosing the right reward for your employees is difficult, especially one that’s appealing across the board. That’s why we’ve come up with an list of five ultimate rewards that will bring competition between your people to a whole new level (and won’t cost you a fortune).

1. A Bossmobile over the weekend.


Important people usually drive cars that make them feel even more important. If this is the case at your company, you might want to persuade your boss (ideally the CEO, or at least the boss several levels up) to lend their car to the best learner for the weekend. Such cars are usually well insured, so no one will really bother about any cuts and bruises anyway. Just imagine the experience of the boss popping into the office on a Friday afternoon to hand over the car keys to the lucky winner in front of everybody else. Bonus karma for your company: this kind of a gesture can create a storm of positive vibes on social media.

2. Your boss said no—it’s gonna have to be another car.

We’re switching to plan B. Rather than hiring a similar car, you can offer the winner a full detailing service for their own car. This should of course include a full interior cleaning, including carpeting and searing, paint care, and polishing, and, last but not least, a full tank of gas. In the end, the car should look as good as new.

Car before - after

3. Not into cars are we?

In that case, any other kind of premium service will do. How about a house cleaning service for a quarter? Or dry cleaning for a year? Maybe a personal assistant to do all kinds of small tasks for them? You know your people best, so it shouldn’t be that hard to pick the right reward for them, right?

4. More training as a reward.

More training for those who excel at training? As terrible as it sounds, this might actually work. Cocktail class for the winner and a few of their friends is almost always a good idea. Optionally, this can be extended to a party where the winner can demonstrate their new skills to the rest of the team (with the company providing the required range of liqueurs).


No booze policy in place? Think sushi class instead. This can culminate in a sushi gathering (make sure your sake stock is plentiful).

5. Adult toys.


No wait—it’s not what you think! It’s actually kids’ toys that require some adult assistance. LEGO Mindstorm is the perfect example. For those who don’t know it—it’s a box of legos that can be connected to your laptop or a tablet to control them. This might sound a bit consumerish, but imagine a parent coming home as a winner with a big box of legos! On the top of that, for the next few months, they will spend every minute or their free time with their kids, building stuff and having fun. That’s an experience no money can buy.

Since you’ve made it all the way through the list, the point should be starting to come across. The most attractive rewards are not physical things: they are positive experiences that will be remembered for a long time. As such, they are not only rewards for the winners but also a clear message for everybody else that they work for a company that really cares about them in the long run.

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