The World’s largest employer is using an employee video game to attract and develop a new generation of managers.
Spark City, Walmart’s new mobile management game, trains managers while they play. Modelled on popular mobile resource management games like Sims and Clash of Clans, Spark City challenges Walmart employees to run their departments like small businesses. Players make inventory, staffing and customer service decisions, packing months of business processes into hours of gameplay.
Spark City lets players create their own avatar and manage a Walmart Dry Grocery department. The game reenacts a typical department manager’s day, from customer service scenarios to chaotic problems. During the game, players must complete tasks in both the backroom and the sales floor while dealing with random events and interruptions like customer questions, vendor visits, and spills.
Spark City tracks three key performance indicators — product availability known as On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA), customer satisfaction also known as CFF (clean/fast/friendly), and Sales. Once a player has achieved a high enough score, they can advance to next level: managing the Lawn & Garden department. Level two is an even more challenging environment where they have to water plants to do more customer interaction.
“The game’s second level focuses on the lawn and garden department. We took everything you do in dry grocery and added a team of associates to manage,” says Daniel Shepherd, a Walmart Associate. “Additional responsibilities include watering the plants and assigning tasks to different associates. There’s a focus on training and mentoring, too. If the user takes the time to train and mentor associates within the game, that will pay off when assigning them to complete tasks.”
By unlocking new levels, tools and useful information, they learn to consistently execute Walmart’s “One Best Way” department management routine.
Employee video game features include:
- Familiar missions (daily tasks) and storyline
- A hint-system for players
- Level progression and freedom to fail elements
- Real-time feedback with customer service, inventory and sales scores
Spark City leverages a “learning while having fun” model, maximizing exposure and repetition with critical job tasks. The employee video game helps associates visualize a clear career path and advancement opportunities as they level-up. Employees advance from department to department and eventually to store and district manager. Front-line hourly supervisors, department managers and assistant managers play the game on iPad Minis during week-long training programs. However, the public is open to play this employee video game anytime, on their phone or tablet.
The feedback from managers and employees has been massive: pilot session participants rated it an average of 9.625 on a 10-point-scale. Classes that played the game improved 22% from pre-assessment to post-assessment.
Walmart hosted a competition to name the game and received more than 2,800 entries. The two winners that suggested Spark City (referencing the spark symbol in the company logo) were rewarded with their names and likenesses as managers in the game. Spark City is available to all 1.4 million employees (and the public, via the App Store and Google Play).
Developed by the Gronstedt Group, a digital training agency that develop award-winning educational games and simulations, (and augmented and virtual reality simulation), the Walmart game was recently has already garnered a Brandon Hall Gold Award. Gronstedt Group has developed intranet and employee video games also for Google and is considered a pioneer in its field.
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Toby Ward is long-time writer and speaker, and the founder of intranet and digital workplace consulting firm Prescient Digital Media. His annual conference, the Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum is North America’s premier intranet conference for digital workplace best practices.