“Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”
The truth is, you probably do.
Scouts proudly don merit badges to acclaim their accomplishments, setting themselves among the highest of the pack. In the same spirit, professional learners are now flaunting their own badges. But rather than showing off skills in first aid or forestry, they’re setting themselves apart from their peers with badges in things like web development, data science, marketing, and leadership. In fact, badges can span from entry-level to executive.
On top of recognizing learned skills, badges like these also point to the academy that bestowed the glowing endorsement. For companies like yours, skill badges could be the stand-out quality that attracts new, eager learners to your academy.
According to the Pew Research Center, 63% of working adults (or 36% of all adults) are what we call professional learners – that is, they have taken a course or gotten additional training in the past 12 months to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career advancement.
The psychology behind earning badges is simple; the positive reinforcement of having something to show their efforts in mastering a skill encourages users to continue working on new skills, earning even more badges. The more badges earned means the more time spent learning from your company’s academy. If your company has an academy without badges, you are doing yourself a disservice. If your company does not have an academy, that’s a conversation for another article.
While badges are great at maintaining business, they stop short of being effective or valuable until they are able to be displayed by professional learners. When someone earns a trophy or medal, they don’t put it in their closet; they put it on the wall or shelf for everyone to see. In the same way, learners want to be able to show their skills. Badges show initiative, drive, and curiosity, all skills that potential employers are looking for.
Badges also display where the user learned each skill. That’s where you come in. By making badges easy to display on social media or email signatures, your company suddenly becomes more visible to the learner’s contacts. You help them grow, they help you grow. It’s free advertisement, and it’s a win-win for everybody.
Here are a few ways to make badges work for your company’s academy.
Offer a variety of levels and skill sets
Rather than offering one badge per skill set, offer beginning, intermediate, and expert levels. This offers learners the chance to earn even more badges, displaying your name even more. By offering a variety of options, you are incentivising learners to continue learning.
Make your badge easy to add to an email signature line
Make it easy for learners to show off their accomplishments! Upon completion of a course or certification, send learners an email showing how and why they should put badges in their signature. They put in the effort, after all, and should be able to show it off. While you’re at it, remind learners to link your academy’s website to the badge. As emails are distributed, so is your academy.
Don’t shy away from recruiting successful students
Young professionals and career pivoters are far from the only ones looking to expand their skills. In fact, the aforementioned study by Pew Research Center found that 73% of adults consider themselves lifelong learners. In a competitive market, even the most successful workers feel the drive to learn, grow, and show what they know.
The successful students of your course are the best use case you have. If a successful professional is displaying your badge, others will follow. You already have the resources, and you’re already educating professionals. Now, take your academy one step further by offering badges for your learners. Your learners are an asset, and the best (free!) advertisement you can get.