Game-based CPE/CE courses give tax and accounting professionals another learning option
In the post-pandemic world, and considering the continuation of the great resignation, attracting and retaining talent has been a significant focus of public accounting firms. Learning and development leads are compelled to create a vibrant workplace brand that attracts top people. But then, you must retain those bright talents by creating career pathways for continuing education and development of soft skills that add value to every encounter with colleagues and clients.
Fortunately, technology is easing the process by capitalizing on the unique learning styles of employees. The groundbreaking tool that’s making this happen? It’s gamification. Transforming yesterday’s stale training into today’s motivational, game-based approach can inspire employees to become lifelong learners and see your firm as the place where they can fulfill their potential.
How public accounting firms can attract and retain talent
Even in the digital age, the fundamentals don’t change. The traditional practices that accounting firms use to attract and retain talent remain relevant:
- Offer learning maps for career tracks. From day one, employers want new hires to know that they have a plan for helping them achieve their professional goals. The map clearly states the skills employees expect to see at each level.
- Personalize the learning experience by providing a variety of learning options and formats. No two people learn in the same way. Expecting everyone to learn critical skills by reading a manual or watching a video isn’t realistic.
- Help employees build their repertoires of soft skills. A strong set of soft skills is the basis of all relationships.
- Create an inclusive atmosphere where every person is valued. Today’s employees want to know the purpose behind their work. Firms can create a welcoming workplace atmosphere by explaining the why behind daily operations, sharing the wins that employees help generate and letting each staffer know the crucial role they play in achieving company goals.
Create learning maps for career tracks
In public accounting, learning maps are guidebooks for professional growth and career advancement. Learning maps also lay out what CPE/CE courses employees need to take at each level. With learning maps at hand, talent knows what’s expected of them at each rung on the career ladder, generating job satisfaction and encouragement to stay. Effective learning maps:
- Establish goals: Developing the map starts at the destination and works backward to today’s starting point, designating the steps along the way.
- Specify skills needed at each level: The specificity helps employees plan the continuing education and work experience needed to achieve their goals.
- Are consistent: Learning maps should differ for each employee, but within a consistent framework that includes job descriptions, required competencies, personality profiles and the training and development needed for career advancement.
- Are measurable: Did employees master a needed skill? Did they gain experience through meaningful involvement in a significant project?
Learning maps give employees insights into the array of career opportunities available and provide the CPE/CE courses they need to help advance their careers.
Provide employees a variety of learning options
Learning is about making use of new information through a process of gathering, sifting, interpreting, organizing, reaching conclusions and storing for future use. With so many steps along the way, it’s no wonder that learning styles differ. Everyone is born with and develops a uniquely personal way to absorb and utilize new information.
Researchers have discovered more than 70 learning “schemes,” but the basics boil down to the acronym known as VARK:
- Visual: The visual learner prefers seeing images and watching videos.
- Aural: Listening to lectures and recordings instills new knowledge.
- Reading and writing: Also known as verbal, this style pulls learning from the written word.
- Kinesthetic: This is the hands-on learner who experiences and experiments.
Of course, few people fall neatly into one category. Most of us are visual learners, more likely to engage with the written word when a picture accompanies it. Many people incorporate multiple and overlapping styles.
Today’s trends in gamification accommodate that cross-section of learners because they pair immersive experiences with visual and aural stimulation.
Help employees develop soft skills
This might seem strange to say in the digital age, but by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs will be soft-skills intensive, according to Deloitte. The digital age explains why – because machines can’t (yet) replicate empathy, emotional intelligence, kindness, mindfulness, adaptability, integrity, optimism, initiative, grit and resilience.
These are the professional skills needed in accounting firms today. When deployed expertly by everyone in the enterprise, they create a workplace that is agile, self-aware and self-motivating, steeped in strong communications, equipped to learn from its mistakes, and solutions oriented.
It’s important to remember that soft skills can be learned. The shy person can learn the techniques of making personal connections, and even a classic “people person” can – and should – learn to corral that extroversion for maximum effectiveness.
Gamification is ideal for teaching soft skills by offering role-playing, scenarios, and rewards for accomplishment. With gamification, employees experience learning that sticks, so they can incorporate newly acquired skills into their daily functions.
How gamification is impacting the workplace
In the workplace, gamification amps up employee training and even e-learning with powerful tools borrowed from the world of gaming, such as storytelling and problem solving. Gamification taps into the human need for immediate rewards, timely recognition and encounters that are interesting and interactive.
The gamification market is booming, expected to reach $30.7 billion by 2025. From Domino’s to Google, hundreds of multinational corporations are investing heavily in gamification, putting their dollars behind a belief in technology that makes learning fun and effective.
While you can hope that your employees want to learn for learning’s sake, gamification comes stocked with the motivators that a bland webinar lacks. Learners can receive experience points that indicate progress and mastery. They can earn badges, get their names on leaderboards, rise through successively more challenging levels and check progress bars to see how close they are to completion. It’s all incredibly gratifying, feeding into the human desire to understand where this journey is leading and how you’re doing along the way.
What can accounting firms do to stay relevant?
Gamification is revolutionizing the workspace into a place where learning is infused into everyday operations, and every employee pursues professional growth.
Gamification transforms workplace education through a range of benefits:
- Fun and interactive learning. Gamification doesn’t mean turning work into a game. However, it adds interactivity that makes learning more satisfying and exciting.
- Real-world applications. A webinar can throw what-if scenarios at learners, but it can never immerse them in the actual situation and require them to solve the problem. Gamification piggybacks on the psychology known to drive human engagement – the sense of feeling comfortable enough to take a risk, which teaches something new every time. Practical experience imprints the new skills for future use.
- Real-time feedback. In the day-to-day crush of work, it’s easy to forget the lessons from once-yearly reviews and quick brush-ups. Gamification provides instant, meaningful feedback as employees reach a target and aim for the next.
- Enhanced learning experience. Efficiency, a jolt of competition, teamwork, retention of lessons – gamification takes workplace training to new heights in effectiveness.
How is Surgent using gamification?
Surgent’s new line of short, immersive, game-based CPE/CE courses, known as Surgent Interactive, provide high-impact educational experiences.
Surgent Interactive courses leverage active learning elements to keep accounting, tax and financial professionals engaged and having fun while earning CPE/CE credit. Our “learner-first” approach allows learners to choose how they want to learn – at their own pace. Game-based CPE/CE courses simulate on-the-job training and are designed to give tax practitioners who need an interactive approach for learning the latest tax legislation, including CPAs, EAs and tax preparers.
How does Surgent Interactive work?
Surgent Interactive courses feature real-world scenarios in a gamified, interactive simulation. Two game-based series help accounting and finance professionals earn CPE/CE credit:
- In the Max the Tax series, learners are tasked with interviewing various taxpayers and adjusting tax returns based on the answers and their own knowledge of tax laws. In each game, learners score points based on the quality of their interviews and the accuracy of the adjustments they make.
- In the Surging Auditors series, learners encounter real-world situations that probe their knowledge of inventory procedures, professional skepticism and making ethical decisions to accurately audit companies. In each game, learners earn points by asking relevant questions, identifying errors and asserting proper follow-up procedures for the situations.
Learners acquire a host of needed skills and are tested for acumen. Their new knowledge is ready for immediate on-the-job application.
Game-based CPE/CE courses make learning fun
At Surgent, we offer relevant, innovative and engaging courses to help accounting, finance and tax professionals advance their careers. For employers fighting the talent attraction and retention battle, Surgent Interactive’s hands-on learning brings the liver – the topics that learners need – packaged as a fun, innovative way for employees to climb the career ladder and earn licensure credits. Individual accountants who are tired of the traditional ways of earning CPE/CE credits can get on board, too, with the confidence of knowing that these are high-quality courses that deliver a side of fun.
This is a pathway to career growth and satisfaction that sets employers apart from the herd. If you’re ready for a fresh approach to earning CPE/CE credits, sign up for Surgent Interactive courses today and find out why so many accountants and accounting firms are using gamification to take learning to the next level.