With more than 32,000 employees and almost 14 million clients, CaixaBank is Spain’s third largest financial institution in terms of assets. Its subsidiary, CaixaBank Consumer Finance, specializes in consumer and business financing and the provision of consumer credit. CaixaBank Consumer Finance collaborates with over 11,000 businesses and has financed the purchases and projects of more than five million private individuals.
In a quest to train and develop its employees’ talent, in January 2016 the company began to implement a game-based learning program. The aim was to strengthen the staff’s negotiation skills in order to improve the company’s financial performance. Accordingly, CaixaBank Consumer Finance set about finding an attractive, alternative and innovative learning format that would motivate employees and increase their engagement.
To launch the project, the company implemented a communications campaign and showed the training video trailer at an event designed to mimic a blockbuster movie premiere, which immediately piqued employees’ interest.
The challenges: to train a geographically dispersed workforce in negotiation skills
Like many other companies, CaixaBank Consumer Finance was faced with the challenge of implementing a training program in different cities and regions hundreds of miles apart. In the past, training had been provided face-to-face, classroom style, which meant very little flexibility for employees and high travel (and opportunity) costs.
The other major challenge for CaixaBank was to find a learning format that was useful and practical and which would have a real impact on the company. The Human Resources Department wanted to equip the staff with the techniques, tools and strategies needed to effectively address clients’ new interests and needs. Therefore, it set about finding a learning solution that would allow sales reps, debt collection agents and advisers to use the new negotiation skills and competencies acquired in their day-to-day work.
The solution: use the Merchants video game to achieve “learning by doing”
The solution chosen to meet these challenges was the Merchants video game developed by Gamelearn. For CaixaBank Consumer Finance, this option had three major advantages:
1. The online, multi-platform format (available for PC, tablet and mobile devices) means that the training can be provided in all regions where the company is present, thus reducing costs and giving employees the freedom to complete the course at their own pace.
2. Unlike other online courses based on slides and tests, Merchants’ sophisticated negotiation simulator enables the staff of CaixaBank Consumer Finance to get real hands- on practice in a safe environment, without putting the company at risk. In this video game, players engage in six real negotiations where they have to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes, failures and successes. The simulator favors the learning by doing approach over theory-based learning.
3. The game-based learning and gamification format (rankings, storytelling, levels and badges) ensures that employees are motivated and engaged. Merchants is an adventure game in which players are transported back in time to medieval Venice with the mission of becoming one of the greatest merchants of their time. An attractive setting (which includes a negotiation with Machiavelli, a share in the lucrative silk trade and the conquest of the city of Florence) sparked so much interest that as much as 99% of participants completed the course.
The result: a highly effective negotiation team
Merchants proved highly effective in improving the negotiation skills of sales reps, debt collection agents and advisers at CaixaBank Consumer Bank because it introduced them to new techniques, strategies and factors they had never encountered before. As a result, the company experienced improved financial performance in three major business areas: financing, debt collection and investment.
Moreover, the learning experience had a huge impact on the company and staff alike. The gamification format led to healthy competition between players and saw them vying for a place at the top of the video game ranking. The experience has become a “social learning” experience within the company and has boosted employee motivation and engagement.
Indeed, Merchants has had such a positive impact on the company in general and business performance in particular that CaixaBank Consumer Finance has decided to continue with game-based learning. It has since added two more serious games to the company’s training offer: Pacific, designed to improve leadership and team management skills; and Triskelion, for the development of time management and personal productivity skills.This innovative boost to their training has also allowed them to receive awards, as the photo above shows.