Gamification – using game-play elements in a nongame activity – is trending across a range of industries. For a while, HR professionals were excited about its potential to improve employee engagement and training, but adoption rates have been slow. Isn’t it time for HR to “level up” with gamification?
In January 2016, U.S. employment engagement rates remained sluggish at 32.5 percent, and 67.5 percent of employees were not engaged or were actively disengaged from their work. And the numbers on engagement have largely remained the same since 2012. Gamification might just hold the key to improving corporate culture, commitment, and drive.
Use Gamification to Change Information Acquisition
Educators are using gamification to make learning fun, and marketers use gamification to encourage prospective customers to interact with a brand. Small and large companies are using it to increase workplace efficiency, offer training, solve problems, and retain top talent.
Gamification works because it changes the way people look at information.
At a very basic level, you can think about “Leapfrog,” the children’s learning game. Sitting at a table working through equations isn’t always fun or motivating, but trying to get your favorite character from one stage to another is exciting to kids. If a child has to do a little math along the way, so be it. The same principles apply to adult consumers and employees. Gamification changes the framework so that individuals engage with a problem, data set, or situation—in a different and often entertaining way.
Connect Gamification and HR
In HR, gamification has implications for recruitment, benefits administration, health and wellness initiatives, and employee engagement. While the applications feel deceptively simple and fun, the organization benefits from tangible return on engagement. Gamification occurs most often at the digital level. Every interaction creates data sets for adoption and performance that employers can use to modify the environment or better support employees.
It’s a win-win situation.
Large companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, GE, Ford, Google, and Microsoft are using gamification principles to change the way they work. I believe adoption rates will start to increase as companies demonstrate real employee engagement levels that directly correspond to gamification principles. Still not convinced? Here are a few of the ways major companies have successfully integrated gamification into HR functions:
- Google Code Jam – This competition, focused on software writing, helps the company recognize new recruits. With prizes up to $50,000, the approach attracts talented engineers and developers who are interested in testing their skills within a crowd.
- co.uk – The British equivalent of the National Security Agency uses this website to attract qualified candidates. Individuals applying for certain positions must crack the code to move through the recruiting process.
- Badgeville – Deloitte’s executive training program uses gamification to improve learning pathways, real-world simulations, and offer feedback. The program has resulted in a 50 percent increase in course completion and 36 percent higher weekly retention rates.
- REVEAL – L’Oreal uses a gaming platform, complete with avatars and rewards, to test candidate knowledge and skill sets. The game offers much more than a vetting system, however. It also teaches individuals about the business, the organizational structure, and team members who work on new products.
Avoid Barriers to Gamification Adoption
Somehow, despite promising success stories, many companies have not embraced gamification as a meaningful solution to industry challenges. Some of the most common barriers to adoption include:
- A belief that gamification is too expensive. However, companies do not necessarily need to develop a full-fledged game or gaming software to take advantage of gamification. Leadership can apply the basic principles to existing processes to improve engagement rates.
- Older executives do not buy into the strategy. Whether your company operates under board management or a chief executive officer, some old-school managers may not understand or approve of gamification in the workplace. Check with the Millennials in the company and get their help in making the case for gamification to the older folks.
- Lack of understanding about gamification. What is gamification and why is it a good idea? Many businesses today still don’t understand how it works or the range of benefits that accrue to incorporating game-like incentives into workplace activities. However more and more companies are using it and talking about the benefits—so it is becoming easier to explain gamification and to demonstrate its value to those who still don’t get it.
Gamification is not one-size-fits-all. Every company must design a strategy that addresses individual business challenges. The technical programming and game concepts must align with company goals. An organization needs to understand rules of the game, and tie those to the goals, player motivators and fit, to achieve real-world results.
It’s Time to “Level Up” With Gamification and the Future of HR
Gamers like to talk about leveling up, meaning moving up to the next level. HR? Are you listening? Gamification is more than a passing trend, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way human resources professionals conduct business on a daily basis.
The benefits of incorporating gamification into HR activities are becoming increasingly clear. And, as more companies gain an understanding of its uses and benefits and see examples showcasing ROI, adoption rates will start to rise. It’s time to see where you can apply gamification to make valuable changes for your company.
Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture and Founder of #WorkTrends, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.