Hickock & Boardman Retirement Solutions

Mobile Technology and Gaming Fun Can Spark Retirement Plan Education

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 09:45 -- Shaun.King

No matter the age, most people love playing games. Whether the activities are traditional board games, mobile apps, or video games, people enjoy the fun, learning and reward that games provide. Interestingly, games are now a popular teaching tool for all types of business applications including retirement plan education.

Called gamification, the concept combines learning with gaming elements to teach complex subjects in fun and challenging methods. Just as the Monopoly board game taught generations of players financial and real estate basics, gamification helps people learn anything from making better wellness choices to how to navigate a company retirement plan.

Although gamification for business is a relatively new technology, the phenomenon is quickly gaining popularity. The trend is not surprising since a gaming and player-centric design helps motivate and engage people, according to Engaging Participants through Gamification, a January 2013 study by AON Hewitt.

The study also finds there are over 100 million active gamers in the U.S., and almost one-third of them are over age 50. Interestingly, the average gamer is a 37-year-old woman, and gamers as a whole spend some 215 million hours per day enjoying the pastime!

There are three types of gamification—motivational, serious, and fun—but only the serious category really fits the needs of retirement plan education. Serious gamification uses both function and fun elements to augment training with transparent and motivational rewards.

Businesses are using gamification to make managing money fun and appealing. Paired with live or virtual training, gamification tests and rewards players based on their financial literacy and learning experience. Retirement plan and money management is taught with treasure hunts, carnival games, and/or virtual obstacle courses so employees have fun while learning.

Smart phones and tablets make gamification particularly appealing with the mobile mindset of many of today’s employees. In fact, ING’s STRUCT game designed to “boost your financial brain power” is a four-star free app available for iPhone and iPad on iTunes.

Fun and rewarding methods for gaining employee participation is not new. Think about all those employee-of-the-month contests and similar awards that many businesses have used for years. What is cutting-edge, however, is taking these motivational and reward approaches and pairing them with modern technology.

While traditional retirement plan educational materials may still have their place, consider expanding your reach by tapping into America’s love of gaming. Most employees agree they want to retire comfortably, yet many lack the financial literacy to put a plan in action. Help make the learning fun with the introduction of retirement plan gamification.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. You should consult with your attorney or advisor for guidance on your specific situation.