You may think of accounting and tax firms as working “by the books,” but when it comes to training, global accounting firm KPMG is leveraging innovative technology to engage and educate their global workforce. Vaughan O’Leary, Interactive Learning Apps Program Manager at KPMG, shares how his company’s Globerunner Cup is training team members and connecting associates around the world through gamification.
Shownotes: KPMG’s Globerunner Cup is an example of how a company can use gamification to inspire employees to invest time in training. In this podcast, Vaughan O’Leary and Jenny Kerwin offer these best practices to consider before using gamification:
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Speaker 1: This is Powered by Learning, a podcast designed for learning leaders to hear the latest approaches to creating learning experiences that engage learners and achieve improved performance for individuals and organizations.
Speaker 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more @dvinci.com.
Susan: Hello, and welcome to Powered by Learning. I'm your host Susan Cort. Today I'm joined by d'Vinci client strategy manager, Jenny Kerwin, and our guest Vaughan O'Leary, Interactive Learning Apps program manager at KPMG, who is joining us from his office in Melbourne, Australia. KPMG is a global network [01:00] of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, with more than 200,000 employees working together in 146 countries and territories. Today, we're going to talk to Vaughan about KPMG's use of gamification to engage its workforce. Thanks for joining us, Vaughan.
Vaughan: No problems. Thank you for having me, Susan.
Jenny: Welcome, Vaughan. Thank you so much for being here today.
Susan: Vaughan, start off by telling us a little bit about your background and your role at KPMG.
Vaughan: Yes. No problems. I've been at KPMG now for about 10 years, starting in the tax division, but I've been in the global area now for coming up seven years, where we've been basically helping our people deliver better client experiences.
Jenny: We are here today to talk a little bit about the KPMG Globerunner Cup, and it has been recognized for success in employee engagement and gamified education. Can you tell us how the KPMG team members [02:00] engage with this digital learning campaign?
Vaughan: Yes, sure thing. Well going back, KPMG Globerunner itself so that's built into various onboarding exercises within our member firms as we get new employees in. Then we initially offered the tournament basically as an extra service to try and get the usage up, because we had people coming in on their first attempts, joining the firm that would be their only interaction with the app as well. This is just another way to try and get people to review and keep up to date with content too.
We deliver the tournament where we invite member firms from around the world who do have access to the application already to participate, and it's completely voluntary for a member firm to sign up. Then even once they've signed up, it's completely voluntary for anyone to participate in the tournament as well.
Once we've got them signed up the content that does go through our induction sessions we have people practice that. It has a two-way [03:00] advantage where it gets our people to get used to the content, and get to know this is the sort of content that will be asked in the tournament. Also get their usage up as well, obviously too, that's where we get our numbers from.
Once they've practiced, a date is set by the member firm of when they'll run their tournament, we run a 50-question tournament for that firm. It could be as short as over a 24-hour period or it could be up to a week as well, depending on just how wide they want to keep it there.
Once that tournament is run, we then find a top 10 from that particular member firm. Those top 10 will then go to our global round on a set date, and then they will represent their country basically. That's another 50 questions then as well. The winning member firm from there takes home the official KPMG Globerunner Cup, and then we've got a couple of various other prizes we give away too.
Jenny: Oh, that's wonderful. On average, how many people participate with the competition each year?
Vaughan: We actually just finished this 2022 one, [04:00] from my numbers, I took it from the 1st of May to 30 June, we had just over 10,000 people log in to the app within that two-month period. Not all of them participate in the tournament. We do find a drop-off, only about a quarter go through to the actual tournament itself. Even within the tournament this year too, we had 600,000 questions answered about the firm just within those two months as well.
Jenny: Wow. How has the Globerunner Cup impacted your employees’ knowledge, like the knowledge base of KPMG?
Vaughan: As I was mentioning, it's a good opportunity to get existing staff in to review content. A lot of the reason for that too is-- because we revise content every year. So we bring up the hot topic, what are the hot topics for this year? So then hopefully they can go in and then learn this information that they may not have seen previously. We take that sort of strategic view to the content where we look at it each year and say, "Okay, what are our priorities as a firm? [05:00] What do we want our people to know?" We make sure that that information goes in there.
One example this year was ESG, so we had a lot of ESG-related questions built into the tournament. I moved them forward into the practice round so that if people only practice one or two locations, they would see this content early on. Then hopefully, that would get that important information to them.
We ran some numbers at the end too, and it's fairly consistent, but we see an improvement in awareness of our service offerings of about 24% from basically a baseline knowledge to once they've repeated the content, is how we calculate that.
Jenny: There has to be some carryover from the people who have gained the knowledge to what they share with the other people who maybe didn't participate in the same way that they did. I'm sure that those 24% probably could potentially even be higher. As you get away from the tournament and you get some bragging rights about what you've earned.
Vaughan: Exactly, exactly, [06:00] and then actually put it into practice. Once they put the knowledge into practice, the measuring’s not always going to be 100% perfect. It might be a bit of a, "I do know it, but it's just there at the back of my mind. I can practice it, but I can't answer the question when I see in front of me," or something like that.
Jenny: All right, but you might know where to look for it?
Vaughan: Yes, exactly.
Jenny: You said the Globerunner Cup launched about eight years ago?
Vaughan: Yes, that's right.
Jenny: Can you share with us some of the changes that you've seen and enhancements that you've made to the experience to create that deeper level of engagement and networking that you've been able to generate?
Vaughan: Yes, no problems. From the actual application that we use for Globerunner, that hasn't changed. We had no new tech basically built into it. We had to look at another way to try and engage people, so the first thing we did was add points for photos. Someone submitted a photo, you'd get bonus points towards your member firm. It's a bit more of a, it wasn't such an individual focus. [07:00] It's like you're working towards making your member firm the better one, not improving your standing as an individual. Basically, we did that.
We don't ask for rules about the photos. We justsay we want happy smiling ones, maybe some cultural significance or something like that in there as well. We tried to leave the creativity side to our people too, which is where we think it really, really comes in. If we set parameters, I think the photos would get to be quite boring, to be honest.
We have a lot of photos that comes through. We've had some people get dressed up. In Mexico, we had people get dressed up in traditional clothing and take their photos with banners and stuff like that. This year, we had some photos from Uruguay, a group photo with their flag and that sort of the thing. We've had some people with their dogs, with their dogs set up in front of the laptop playing Globerunner. We've had kids in front of it too.
Then we've also had our winning member firm this year with South Africa. Again, and what they did is they set up a selfie station, [08:00] and so they had a cut out of their chairman of their firm dressed up as if he's a member of Top Gun. He had the glasses. He had the bomber jacket, and all the staff are basically posing around him in various poses. That really drove up the photo usage. We had over 300 photos from that firm this year. That's obviously why they won because they got too excited there.
It's just allowing people to come in that creativity just really helped, and it had a bit of a bond as well. There's some single photos, but there was a lot of group photos this year we found as well.
Susan: You mentioned the word bond and I think that's interesting, because beyond the learning, you're also fostering a great work environment among all your different organizations across the world.
Vaughan: Exactly, exactly. The KPMG South Africa firm, for example, they also had an additional competition on the side between different business units that was tax [09:00] versus advisory versus audit. That really got those teams together going, "We're going to be the better business unit of this firm."
Susan: You're also changing everyone's perceptions of what accountants do during the day, Vaughan.
Susan: You're having a lot of fun.
Vaughan: Even some of the photos come through, you go, "Oh, that's really clever, I wish-- I need to get some of them together for you, but with the Top Gun ones in particular. They did a lot of photoshopping too. They've got the CEO and he's dressed up as well. They've got the plane in the background, and it's like, he's walking away from it in the sunset and all this sort of stuff. It's really, really clever stuff.
Even some videos that came through, we've had some of them preparing in Serbia, and there's this guy who was having nightmares about work. He couldn't sleep and he's getting restless, and he goes outside for a run to try and sit himself down and he gets chased by a dog. [10:00] Then he is in a boxing ring and he is getting beaten up basically. Then he is going into work, sitting down, getting ready for his Globerunner tournament. It was really clever and just really interesting what they do there.
Susan: You're definitely making people love learning that's for sure.
Jenny: Now, can all of the participants see the other videos and pictures that are submitted?
Vaughan: Ah, that's a very good question. We do try to do some of the photos. The videos I haven't figured out yet.
Jenny: How to share them?
Vaughan: Yes, and share them properly. I do have a call next week with my wider global team where we're going to be sharing, especially the video and a couple of those photos as well, just to show off, because we're a member of Global Clients & Markets. They know some of their markets people and staff who will appear in those photos, so it's good to see them in a bit of slightly different light.
Jenny: Talking about your participants and everyone who participates in the challenge, [11:00] what part has feedback from those users played into updating the campaign, making changes to the challenge year over year?
Vaughan: Basically, we offer a survey at the end of the tournament and at the end of their orientation training as well about what they think about Globerunner, are they feeling a bit more confident about the content, and if someone approached them, could they confidently say-- if someone said, "What does KPMG do?" Could they confidently say, "This is what we do." Or, are they more confident connecting client challenges with how the firm can help? Which is our ultimate goal with KPMG Globerunner. So we do get that feedback.
One of a bigger pieces of feedback we've received early on was that, we took a worldwide view, our business language is English and so we probably made the wrong assumption in that. That's correct. Despite what people say that's a correct fact, but it's not. And so we did get asked [12:00] whether we could basically translate some of our content into local languages. I'm now delivering the tournament in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Since we've started doing that, that feedback's gone except the times when you say, "That word's wrong." Apart from that, that has actually increased our participation rates as well, and particularly in Latin America. We're basically having every country in South America participate, and then even almost all the countries in Central America participate as well. And that's come on since we've started translating the content.
So that's something we are now offering there every year. We don't even ask. It's just like, this is what we're going to do, this is your country. Especially the Spanish speaking ones we're going to do that. And then if we can get some of our other ones out, France, so someone wants something in French, then we'll look at doing it in French, Japanese, that sort of thing too.
Jenny: Fantastic. What other great strengths [13:00] would you say that this type of learning experience has for your organization or and for the participants themselves?
Vaughan: For the participants, so as we were mentioning it was the team bond. I started to get into a bit of a looking into the transmedia side of things where we've got our digital experiences and then you've got physical, and whatever else you can bring together. That's probably be my ultimate goal is, is somehow coming up with one of those, because we have digital and yes, it's great. I shouldn't put it down. I shouldn't put it down. I know everyone loves digital. But you know… It doesn't really bring everyone together on its own and it doesn't create the atmosphere either, despite what anyone will ever say. That's why we have, with the photos having those selfie-stations for example, that's a real live example, had everyone bubbling [14:00] in the office waiting to get their photo taken.
The Kuwait firm, they turned around and said to me, "The previous two years, we've all been locked down at this point in time." Even though the tournament went well, this year was their first time in the office and the activator, there she is like, "I just noticed this energy around the tournament that we haven't had in previous years." And so I feel that providing this sort of experience, having a bit of a digital and physical aspect to it just creates something different-- more creates an experience rather than just a learning side of things.
Jenny: All right. Really looking for places that you can blend that in-person piece with what they're learning online and making those connections. I think also it just helps you feel more engaged and more part of the greater organization.
Vaughan: That's true. Because, when our people work, basically we work by country. [15:00] Soyou're not necessarily-- and sometimes in your career you may never see the wider global picture and so this is just another opportunity to. We had people from 45 countries log in this time. Everyone's part of these countries and we had one of our winners for the learning award was in Jamaica, another one in Papua New Guinea. Our biggest member firms, India, China, South Africa and Uruguay won the actualmember firm awards. So we’ve just got all these firms coming together and you've got the opportunity to, "Oh, we have offices in this country or this is what they do," and it just helps, like you're saying, make people feel part of the global firm, which is a big key priority we do have too as a firm.
Jenny: You've talked a little bit about some of the challenges you've mentioned, but what would you say are the greatest challenges that you have just trying to keep the Globerunner top of people's minds or what challenges did you face each year? [16:00]
Vaughan: Trying to just get everyone involved. You always have the nay-sayers that, "This is a game. It's sounds too fun. Let's not do it." But then if they see the bigger benefits of the serious reason we're doing this is to help our people deliver better client experiences and possibly deliver more work for the firm. And when they look at it from that aspect, then they're more likely to get involved.
Jenny: It's a wonderful way to bring some excitement to learning that information through the gamification and sometimes gamification is not going to be for everyone, but there are different elements that people can find, like you said, the benefits on the other side of it. People do really learn through games and different challenges and tapping into our competitive nature and just having some fun withhow we learn. [17:00]
Now you've had a vast experience with this, you've been working with this program for so many years, what tips would you share with a colleague who is setting out to create an engaging digital and partially physical learning campaign like the KPMG Globerunner?
Vaughan: Probably the first thing would be to look at your organization culture to start with. As you mentioned, the competitive side, so how people are very competitive, whether it's in this or it's in other parts of their job. The Globerunner Cup itself basically plays on those behaviors. It works for us in that aspect but may not work in other organizations that don't have that competitive nature or people are not standoffish, but might be a bit shy to have their name on a leaderboard and stuff like that too. That's probably where another solution may need to be thought about.
Jenny: Tapping into that target audience and your target learner and tapping into the things that you know about them like that competitive nature of your folks. [18:00]
Vaughan: Yes, exactly, exactly.
Susan: Vaughan, I have to say the one thing that I wish our listeners could see is the joy in your face when you're talking about this. Did you ever think it would take off as it has and be so successful and what do you think has been the greatest thing to come out of it?
Vaughan: Yes, well…No, I did not. It is not basically, because it did start really small. Our first year, we did run a tournament within the Australian firm once, and it was just different states against each other. The next year we went global and we only had 10 countries. The next year we still only had about 10 sort of thing, so it moved very slowly. But what's come out of it since though, even though we run the global tournament, it feels like it's now an ongoing activity because timelines don't always match up around the world.
For example, I mentioned the, the KPMG Islands Group, and so their CARICOM Islands are in Jamaica, Barbados [19:00] and they got together and they did their own tournament just afterwards. They got another 100,000 questions just in that little group of islands, which is amazing. The US firm have got their interns coming through at the moment and so they're using it, not for the tournament side, but they're using it from that aspect. Canada firm want their own tournament in January, and then we've got the Nordics having their own Nordic Cup in September, I think. It's kind of sprouted like little mini tournaments, and the usage that people say, "Oh, no, we can't participate then, but we're going to do it." Which is also useful in that, I can set it up for the global one and I can just rehash everything.
So if you weren’t in the global one, well this is the tournament we had for our member firm. You can have that as a first round. This is a tournament we have for the grand final. That's our second round. And we can change our achievement badges or whatever over. If you want to use those, we can add in the fun elements if you want or not. [20:00] That's probably where it's gone a bit.
It's also been a base load for us to create other projects within the firm too. For example, we've just released a sustainability application, which is all about encouraging and inspiring personal action towards the SDGs. That's been in pilot state for the last couple of months and we've launched it, and we've had quite a few thousand people through already in committing to personal actions around the planet ,people, and the prosperity pillars and taking that wider now, but basically taking our learnings from KPMG Global and the tournament, and then applying it to that aspect.
Susan: Fascinating, well, I'm sure everyone at KPMG, thanks you for making learning fun, and helping the organization grow. Thank you, Vaughan, for inspiring our listeners to think about what they can do with gamification and their learning programs.
Vaughan: No, problems. I thank you for inviting me along. [21:00]
Jenny: Thank you so much.
Susan: Jenny, that was a fun and inspirational talk with Vaughan. KPMG is certainly getting the most out of their training with the addition of gamification.
Jenny: Yes, they absolutely are. My takeaways include looking at how that engagement can, not only live within a digital experience, but also outside of the digital experience with the way that they encourage people to get together and submit pictures, or the different challenges that they might submit to one another to create that competition with people that they wouldn't normally come into contact with.
Susan: Yes. Especially since they work across so many different countries, gamification was really a great way of just building team and friendships throughout the many countries. In particular, coming out of COVID when everyone has felt a little isolated, this sounds like a great way of just getting some camraderie going. [22:00]
Jenny: Yes. I think that there's a great lesson to be learned there, to say, I know a lot of times, as we set out to create a digital learning experience, it is kind of an independent experience. And that is how one individual engages with that content. But, when we think about making it more of a community learning experience by adding in things like competition or different fun awards or just visibility of what one another are doing, that really opens it up and makes it more of a social learning experience rather than just an independent.
Susan: For sure.Now, when you have clients contacting d'Vinci, who are maybe considering integrating gamification into their learning, what do you advise them?
Jenny: I think one thing that we can even harken back to from what Vaughan was talking about, was listening to their learners, [23:00] really like looking for feedback and seeing how those learners react to different types of engagement, knowing that audience get to know that audience and what really we can tap into that will motivate them. There are definitely groups of learners that are less motivated by competition, and it depends on the content as well.
I think when you look at integrating gamification into online learning or even into in-person learning experiences, the first place that you absolutely have to start is, what are your overall goals for that gamification? Why are we seeking a gamified solution? Is it because we want to raise the level of entertainment to make it more memorable? Or is it because we're trying to increase people's participation and we're tapping into their competition or their level of fun so that we can motivate that learning in a different way? [24:00]
Another aspect that you might want to consider is when we create a gamified experience, where does that gamified experience live? We often talk about it living within an e-learning module, or if it needs to be expanded into their learning management system. Our learning management system ecoLearn, provides the ability for us to have badges and different progression that's showing leader boards. Sometimes that is the absolute right answer for our learners to keep them motivated and keep them coming back to experience the different learning that's available.
Susan: Some good thought starters and good advice for people, if they're considering integrating gamification things to ask that are internal teams or their vendors before they get started. Thanks, Jenny.
Jenny: Thank you, Susan.
Susan: Special thanks to Vaughan O'Leary, Interactive Learning Apps program manager at KPMG, for joining us today. If you have any questions about [25:00] what we talked about, or if you'd like to be a guest on Powered by Learning, please reach out through our website, dvinci.com or email us at email@example.com.
Speaker 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dvinci.com.