How Walmart used gamification to address safety practices [Case Study]

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The first step in addressing the challenge of creating or revamping a learning program is the embracing of the unique training challenges facing the company. That can encompass a plethora of things.

Walmart understands money is of supreme importance to doing business. The retail giant operates one of the largest distribution networks and private trucking fleets in the world. Several years ago, the company realized it was facing a real need to better address safety practices by decreasing risks, reducing accidents and injures along with costs, and improve employee engagement. For the company, a 5% reduction in safety infractions could translate to millions of dollars saved each year.

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To do that, the company needed to find a way to generate more employee awareness around the safety policies and procedures in place and make sure employees not only learned the correct information, but retained it and applied it.

That came with issues.

“Challenges for training are how you ensure consistency in what the training is… the material and the content,” Michael Stephenson said. Stephenson is the Vice President of Compliance, Safety and Asset Protection at Walmart. “We also struggle with making the material engaging.”

Another concern for Walmart was how to deal with the multi-generational and multi-national workforce employed by the company.

“We have to make sure the content is translatable and it is translated by people who understand the local language and culture,” Stephenson said. “We’ve been trying to go more towards mobile opportunities and more flexible scenarios and solutions.”

Walmart chose to pursue a microlearning/gamification platform. Essentially, associates spend 3-5 minutes playing a game while answering safety questions. The platform gives instant feedback to the employee knowing which answers they’ve answered correctly and which ones they missed. The next time the associate signs into the game, it provides them questions to reinforce the knowledge they know and “retrain” them on the knowledge they seem to struggle with. This strategy ensures that knowledge and retention of that knowledge increases.

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What were Walmart’s results?

• Recordable incidents at 8 of Walmart’s distribution centers decreased by 54% during the pilot, morale has been elevated, and injury expenses mitigated

• 96% of behavior observations show employees are applying knowledge on the job

• Voluntary participation average: 91%

• Knowledge levels on safety topics have increased by approximately 15%

• Employee confidence in the material has increased by approximately 8%

Since pursuing this strategy, Walmart associates are safer and are constantly locked in a continuous training loop. While that sounds negative, the ultimate goal is the continued focus on safety within the company’s walls. 

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