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As the demand for skilled workers continues to rise, many companies are searching for better ways to find, train, and retain competent employees. According to a McKinsey Global survey, 87% of executives say they face skills gaps in their workforce, and less than half said they knew how to address the problem. Digital badges are one relatively new tool companies can use to help identify and hire talent and assist with training and upskilling.

A digital badge is a mechanism for assessing, recognizing, and verifying a skill or achievement. Once earned, a digital badge displays a learner’s accomplishments while also verifying their skills. Although sometimes perceived as just a way to reward learners, digital badges can help increase learner engagement, guide company-wide upskilling initiatives, and help build a more dynamic workforce for the future.

Increase Engagement During Training

Digital badges can help increase learner engagement during training. The gamification theory of education uses game-based elements like point scoring, peer competition, and teamwork to help learners assimilate new information and keep them engaged. Earning a reward like a digital badge during the training process can help motivate employees to complete the course and keep them engaged with the material along the way.

IBM began using digital badges in 2015 to help increase the number of students completing courses and taking final exams. Their pilot program saw a 226% increase in course completion and a 694% increase in learners passing the assessments. Now, 72% of IBM managers use badges to recognize achievements, and 87% of IBM employees who earned a badge reported they were more engaged because of the program.

Guide Upskilling Initiatives

Digital badges can also guide an entire organization’s upskilling or reskilling efforts. Upskilling is the process of retraining current employees with skills that are in short supply. This tactic is especially prevalent in industries undergoing a digital transformation or implementing automation. Instead of hiring new employees with the needed technical skills, companies are training current employees to fill the open positions.

Not only do digital badges motivate learners to complete new courses or training, but they also provide a bird’s eye view of an entire talent pool. With a database of employees’ specific skills, companies can more easily spot potential skills gaps and identify where to concentrate upskilling efforts. Such a comprehensive view of a company’s skill library can also provide insight into promotions or job role changes.

Build A Dynamic Workforce

The way we work is changing—rapidly. Brought on by the pandemic, companies are adopting more advanced automation and AI technologies, especially in the manufacturing and logistics sectors. Along with these advancements comes a need for technically skilled workers to operate and maintain these new systems. Employers will need to move quickly to build a workforce with the skills needed in this new world of work.

Digital badges can help ease this transition. With verifiable skills available instantly on a candidate’s resume or company profile, hiring managers can more quickly identify internal or external talent, decrease recruiting time, and increase the time to hire.

IBM has issued over 3 million badges so far and says the program has helped increase employee performance and accelerate shifts in expertise needed to keep pace with a changing labor market.

A report from the O.C. Tanner Institute found that recognition technology like digital badges:

  • Boosted employee engagement by 48%
  • Improved productivity by 34%
  • Increased employee retention by 26%

Digital Badging Tips

Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking of getting started with your own digital badge program.

Create logical pathways by considering how digital badges can best complement learning. Build a logical sequence so the learner knows the goal of the badging program and what to do after earning a badge.

Emphasize benefits by educating employees on the badging program, how it works, how the company will use it, how it will help their own career progression, and other ways they can benefit.

Provide metadata for each badge. Metadata is the specific details on who received the badge, who issued it, and what criteria were met to earn it. This verifies the learner’s achievements for anyone viewing the badge.

Measure the success of your program. Define specific goals and track your progress. Talk to employees who earn badges to see what’s working and what’s not. Possible metrics to track include the number of badges issued, the average grade in the training course, learner satisfaction, and performance improvement.

Build a Skilled Workforce with NBS

Nocti Business Solutions has been helping companies solve workforce challenges for over 20 years. Our online platform makes it easy to create, issue, and manage digital badges for your entire organization. Contact us to learn more and to find out how we can help you build a skilled workforce for the future.