Level Up Achievements — Our experiment with digital badges

Chris George
Jun 12 · 3 min read
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Background

Learning and personal development has been a fundamental part of life at Redgate since it’s inception over 20 years ago. Our internal L&D brand, Level Up, has helped to bring the many learning activities and resources together under the one umbrella to aid collaboration and coordination.

At the start of 2020, we decided to experiment with issuing digital badges to recognise achievements. This was as a result of some recurring feedback that people don’t know how to best spend their personal development time, don’t know what training is available or don’t know what to learn.

Why Badges?

Scouts earn badges by completing a set of criteria and typically learning new skills. They are an indication of how much that young person has learnt, their drive and breadth of knowledge. As a Scout Leader myself, the experiences of earning and awarding badges inspired the idea to explore the concept of “gamification”, in particular, digital badges.

Following some work to research digital badges and identify a suitable platform, we started our trial in April using the platform Accredible. We launched with a handful of badges that corresponded with some internal training courses from our Lead Software Engineers as well as in which we wanted to encourage greater visibility and engagement.

Fairly early on, we decided that this was bigger than just “digital badges”, so we have adopted the term “Level Up Achievements”. The intention here is that it encourages the concept of achieving something rather than simply ‘getting a badge’.

Reception/Observations

Feedback on the Level Up Achievements has been good with increasing engagement from engineers through to our CTO! We are seeing an uptick in the number of individuals requesting achievements or suggesting new ones which is encouraging, and we expect this to continue increasing as they embed in our personal development culture.

Some people haven’t found Level up Achievements to be helpful, but we’re happy that so many Redgaters are getting value from them.

Also, as a result of some feedback, we’re now actively avoiding the term “gamification”. Some felt this term trivialised the sense of achievement we’re aiming for, so we aim to consistently talk about “Level Up Achievements”.

Where Are We Now?

We now have 46 achievements ranging from induction tasks through to manager activities, from basic git skills through to using Kubernetes. Nearly 600 achievements have been issued to over 90 recipients in our Product division. Now that our team leads all have the ability to issue achievements themselves, we are hoping this will again increase engagement.

Looking Forward…

We would like to see Level Up achievements playing a part across the wider company, and we see no reason for this not to be the case. Most likely, the real benefit of achievements will come through them being a part of our personal development process and generally getting embedded in day to day learning culture.

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