Sometimes the one word can mean different things to different people. In the HR space, gamification is one of those words. Gather a group of HR pros and casually throw out the word to see what I’m talking about first hand. This newest HR technology either brings to mind fond thoughts of leaderboards and interactive play or elicits eye rolls and skeptical glares. But before you automatically categorize gamification with the countless buzzwords that the HR industry has collected over the years, hear me out.
Unlike the huge pile of fads and trends HR has talked about, tried and discarded, gamification has already been proven as a success. While it is relatively new in the HR space, gaming has been around for as long as people have. The global video game market alone is now a $66 billion industry that spans all age and skill levels, as well as every electronic device, from smartphones to devices created just for gaming. Aside from that astonishing fact is the realization that gamification not only includes electronic games but also board games, interactive challenges, competitions and more. If three billion people worldwide are gaming, I think it’s safe to say it works.
Sure, there are some translations that have to occur to take gamification and make it work for human resources, recruiting and hiring, but that’s also already been proven. For instance, Marriot has been a trailblazer when it comes to using gamification in recruiting. After researching a bit about their prospective candidates, the hotel enterprise realized that while they did have a careers page on Facebook, it was pretty damn boring compared to the games their potential workforce was spending hours playing each day, right there on Facebook. So Marriot created the My Marriot Hotel game that allows players to manage all the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a hotel kitchen, such as inspecting food and hiring new employees.
I don’t really consider myself much of a gamer in my spare time, but I did find it necessary to play several rounds of this…you know, for research purposes. My guess is that many of the other 50,000 people interacting on Marriot’s Facebook page each week have done the same.
While Marriot nailed recruiting gamification right on the head, its use and benefits extend far beyond recruiting. A number of companies are leveraging gamification as a component of their employment branding and as a way to identify leadership for succession planning. A kick-ass example of this is NTT Data’s Ignite Leadership game, which provides the organization’s leaders with a way to find out more about specific management topics and allows them to see the ins and outs of leadership roles within the company. Not only does this allow employees to receive on-demand training but it also makes succession planning more of an interactive experience, giving employees ownership in the process.
Why it works
Gamification is successful in HR, recruiting and hiring for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the fact that it taps into innate human nature that pushes us to win, succeed and go further. It’s why Candy Crush users spend $160,000 per day in the free game: there’s always one more level you can reach, one more badge to win, one more accolade to accumulate. Gamification in HR plays into this to teach, train or identify skills and knowledge.
The other major component that goes along with this is that gamification does what interviews and pre-employment tests can’t. It can evaluate problem solving, quick thinking, time management and many other leadership-essential qualities that just can’t be measured with a multiple-choice test.
The most obvious, but most often ignored, quality that gamification offers is the Mary Poppins principle: a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. In other words, playing a game is makes reading a careers page less boring, obtaining a badge for completing a training program makes it feel a bit less tedious and the possibility of winning a competition creates an association between going the extra mile and something tangible, even if it’s only the pride of being at the top of the leaderboard.
What do you think about gamification? Passing fad or here to stay? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.
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