Law firm takes an HR punt on gamification

Profile picture for user jmilne By Janine Milne December 21, 2014
Producing an interactive web-based training product using gaming techniques to teach vital aspects of employment law to line managers was a winning gambit for Wragge Lawrence Graham.

People say to us: I can’t believe lawyers did this.

jemma o'reilly
Jemma O'Reilly

So says Jemma O’Reilly, an associate in the employment team at UK-based law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham. The “this” in question is producing an interactive web-based training product using gaming techniques to teach vital aspects of employment law to line managers.

O’Reilly admits that this move into e-learning “is a bit of a brave new world” for the law firm, but she was determined to find a way of presenting employment law in way that was a little more “out there” than simply transferring classroom style training online.

The firm had already put webinars and seminars on the likes of YouTube, and while this has its place, O’Reilly jokes:

I’m sure I’m delightful to watch, but not sure it’s much fun! A lot of law firms do webinars, but that didn’t seem to us to be the only way of doing something interesting.

O’Reilly decided that gamification was the key to offering a more engaging way of delivering employment information and enlisted the help of e-learning technology designer Cognify to help develop a training package.

The aim was to give retailers, manufacturers and other companies with a dispersed workforce an easy way of bringing managers up to speed in disciplinary procedures, says O’Reilly:

We wanted it to be practical rather than someone just explaining the legal ins and outs.

Understanding and following the correct procedures in disciplinary cases – and spotting the pitfalls – is a vital skill for managers if they want to avoid cases escalating to a tribunal.

Users are presented with scenarios where they have to make decisions. If people make a poor choice, they will instantly begin to see the consequences of their decision.

O’Reilly points out that it’s “riddled with law” but that it doesn’t come across like that. People learn when is the best time to get in touch with HR and the kind of holes they can dig themsel ves if they don’t follow the right procedures:

It’s all about managing that process – disciplinary, drafting correspondence. It’s age-old stuff.

The content may not be that new, but it is delivered in a new, exciting way. The emphasis with all the modules is getting away from multiple choice questions, but to make people think for themselves about how they should respond to situations.

The training is designed to be done individually, but O’Reilly has found that it’s been used as a useful jumping off point for discussion among managers who’ve used it.

Taking a punt

O’Reilly worked with Coral Racing throughout the development process, using the betting and gaming firm as a test bed to try out ideas and to ensure the content was pitched correctly for its audience and didn’t use too much legal jargon.

Coral shop
Coral Racing, like many firms, faces the problem of training many managers across many different locations. Previously, it trained staff in face-to-face workshops, backed by manuals and briefing sheets.

Today, all line managers in the head office and in stores use the module. Raminda Grewal, Coral Racing’s head of HR, says:

They prefer e-learning as they can learn at their own pace and re-do modules where appropriate. They also can refer to the content at any time to refresh their knowledge.

The firm has already begun to see results. Grewal points out that the quality of its disciplinary management has improved and staff are following the processes better and asking the correct questions at the investigation stage. The company has already signed up to take on the next module for release on how to deal with grievances.

Two more modules are scheduled for release shortly. The grievances and investigations module, explains O’Reilly, will help managers understand the best way to handle grievances, detailing enabling them to test their questioning techniques. Depending on the decisions managers make, their staff will stay put or leave.

A performance management module is also in production and O’Reilly sees huge potential for looking at subjects such as health and safety, diversity and absence management.

My take

Gamification is being used across businesses in a variety of guises (some more successful than others), but learning and gaming techniques are natural bedfellows. What’s great about this particular application of gaming is that it brings to life what could otherwise be a rather dry topic.