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It’s time for HR to get in the game



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Gamification is something HR is just scratching the surface of, but Anthony J. James, global CMO at PageUp, explains why companies need to incorporate gaming into HR practices before it’s game over. 

Is it just me, or have we all been talking for a long time now about how gamification is going to revolutionise HR?

While much of the research indicates more businesses and brands are using gamification to drive greater engagement than ever before, most folks in HR are just scratching the surface when it comes to applying gaming techniques and methodologies to traditional HR functions.

Don’t get me wrong – I do think gamification has exciting applications for the HR industry. But enough already of just talking about it. In gaming parlance, I do believe it’s time that we “level up.”

Gaming rewards for recruitment

Take recruiting, for instance. Games offer a natural and fun way for people to explore and learn more about a company and its culture. Novel and stimulating technology is enormously attractive to today’s growing and highly sought-after Millennial workforce, many of whom were brought up on a steady diet of rewards-based video and computer games.

Advanced technologies can turn something like a potentially dull application proces into an exciting, interactive experience that can assess candidate skills in a fresh, engaging environment. What’s more, pre-hire assessment games can give recruiters deeper insight into how candidates think and ultimately, how they will perform on the job.

The recruiting and talent acquisition arenas have experienced the most success to date with incorporating gamification to engage with potential candidates. Organisations like Marriott, Deloitte China and even the US Army have developed gamified methods to identify and connect with potential candidates.

Novel and stimulating technology is enormously attractive to today’s growing Millennial workforce, many of whom were brought up on a steady diet of rewards-based video and computer games.

Gaming the learning management system

It’s not just recruiting, though, where HR can get into the game. In the sometimes staid landscape of corporate learning and development programmes, gamification has the potential to turn employee training on its head.

Interactive games drive employee participation and enable the transfer of educational content in a fun and appealing way. Gamified learning can reinvigorate old content and create new, imaginative approaches to teaching,which often lend themselves to the latest in social and mobile technologies – another sure-fire way to break through to Millennials.

Learning by playing and doing taps into the brain’s novelty and reward mechanisms. Gaming is especially good for first-hand experiential involvement; immediate feedback; fun, colorful and challenging formats, and the ability to compete, compare performance and earn rewards.

While more companies are incorporating gaming strategies into their L&D programmes (see NTT Data and Deloitte, for example), this is one area where HR continues to lag behind.

All work and no play makes for disengaged workers

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, more than 60% of today’s workers are not “engaged”. In addition to sending every business owner into a tizzy, these findings are also forcing organisations to look for new and creative ways to make positive changes that affect employees’ outlook.

That’s where gaming can help. It turns out, the inherent rewards and incentives built into gaming plays well with performance management, which is a key factor in keeping employees engaged. Companies can employ gamification elements when designing performance plans, to entice employees to participate more fully in their own performance planning and development.

Gamification can provide useful data throughout the employee life cycle to give companies insight into what is working – and what is not.

What’s more, the recent trend toward badging and credentialing provides a way for companies to not only track employees’ progress toward individual goals, but also for employees to receive tangible – and, in some cases, public – recognition of their achievements. The badges can often be shared on internal and social networks for further visibility and motivation.

This level of HR gamification in performance management is still in its infancy but has the potential to drive high performers to new heights and ultimately enhance a company’s business performance.

Playing the HR numbers game

All of this gamification, badging, credentialing and tracking leads to the one thing HR just can’t get enough of – data.

The increased data generated from gamifying these HR processes means that HR professionals will have more ways than ever to measure the effectiveness of their programmes and to make real-time adjustments when warranted. Gamification can provide useful data throughout the employee life cycle to give companies insight into what is working – and what is not.

A long way to go

While it remains to be seen how much of a real game-changer this trend will be for HR, I believe gamification has potential as an important component of a company’s overall HR strategy. The fact is, companies that don’t incorporate gaming principles into HR practices risk it being “game over” as the competition passes them by.

Tell me in the comments: What is your company doing to incorporate gaming techniques into your workplace?



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