Step Up Your HR by Hiring a Gamer


Gamification is the next big step in social media and employee interaction.
Gamification is the next big step in social media and employee interaction.

In a webinar today I mentioned to the audience that one direction that the HR use of social media is moving is in the direction of “gamification.” After the webinar I realized that I only had a partial understanding of what that was. So I decided to step up my “game” and learn a bit more. With some reading I came the realization that HR can step up their game by hiring a “gamer”, someone well versed in what it takes to make a game interesting.
Gamification definition
According to Steve Sims, Vice President of Badgeville, gamification is the application of behavior-motivating techniques from traditional and social games to non-game environments. According to the blog Talent Neuron “Gamification is based on the premise that users (especially Gen Y) are interested in interacting, sharing and engaging within a community through entertainment.” In essence it harnesses a person’s drive to be competitive and social.
Application to human resources
Talent Neuron indicates that “Gamification principles are used in HR related activities such as learning and development, recruiting, on boarding, performance management and employee motivation.” Sims, in his article, suggests that HR uses of gamification can include talent acquisition, talent management, promoting corporate culture, employee learning, training and even paperwork completion.  Talent Neuron gives us two examples of how gamification is being used at a couple of different companies.

L’Oreal  has designed a game ‘L’Oreal Reveal’ to attract mid-level talent. Players compete with other potential candidates and are evaluated on skills related to Research & Innovation, Finance, Supply Chain, and Sales & Marketing. The winner/top scorers are recruited by the company. Over 30 percent of the mid-level positions in the company are filled through this approach.

At Deloitte they use gamification in conjunction with learning and development.

As employees’ complete courses and certifications they are rewarded with points and badges and this can be shared on sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn. This helps to create a personal brand for employees and fosters competition among individuals and teams. Through the use of Gamification, HR teams can also now identify talent with specific skills.

Errors to avoid
As with most new things many people have rushed to adopt this new technology. As a result many companies have made errors that have stalled their gamification efforts. According to Siddhesh Bhobe, CEO for eMee, Persistent System’s game-based employee engagement platform, there are 12 errors that many companies make in trying to use gamification in their HR efforts. Here are the ones I consider to be significant.
Awarding points that have little value. I have experienced this myself, not in an HR arena, but the same concept. I use Four Square and I earn points and badges for checking in to various venues. However, other than bragging rights my wife and I have not figured out the value. If you do this with your gamification effort employees may have difficulty with understanding why they need to continue.
Not being in line with the company’s policies, vision and culture. As Bhobe says you will have difficulty with getting adoption “Unless the experience can be fully customized to your specific business and cultural needs.”
Letting it get stale. As with any game if it doesn’t change, doesn’t offer new challenges or new rewards people will get tired of playing it. This means it needs constant attention. Bhope suggests you have enhancements and upgrades planned nine months in advance.
Gaming the game. If people try to figure out how “cheat” or “game the game” they will often be the leaders all the time and others will figure out quickly it is not worth their time to continue to play. There have to be safeguards to prevent this from happening.
And a final error that shoots down many efforts is attempting too much. You need to start small and gain some successes before moving big. This is tried and true training methodology, which is often ignored, much to the detriment of the effort.
The future
I think the future of gamification is a bright one, especially with generations of employees raised on sophisticated games that can be played in the palm of their hands. So think about your efforts and hire some gamers to help you design your HR department efforts.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

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