An early analytics firm found it challenging to hire during college campus placements. (Till recently, most people did not know what an analytics job entailed and wondered if it could be a viable career option.) The firm had to help students understand what problems analytics was used to solve and how exactly it was done. Did it involve coding or was it about statistics?  Would it be like a management consultant’s job? the questions were many.

To overcome this challenge, the organization developed a game that allowed students to find solutions to real-life analytical problems. Students across colleges could compete with one another for coveted individual prizes. Participation points and points for winners helped determine a tally board in which colleges competed against each other. Over a period, the firm became popular amongst final year students and participation increased in the recruitment process. But the most important effect was that industry now had a pool of students who knew what analytics was, and had the right skills and capability for the job, and were keen to be hired. Welcome to the effects of gamification!

Gamification for different contexts and needs

“Gamification uses 75% psychology and 25% technology. It banks on the competitive spirit within and creates scenarios that encourage and motivate the user to keep moving forward.” The essence of gaming – fun, interaction, transparency, competition, winning and addiction – is now being used by HR to attract and manage talent. Employee engagement is high on the list of HR objectives.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace,  more than 51% of the employees were disengaged and 17.5% actively disengaged, which meant a meagre 31% were actively engaged at work. A further analysis of this study revealed that younger employees or Millennials were the least interested in the work they do.

Gamification assists in this bleak scenario, getting employees actively engaged at work while allowing them to have fun in the process. It makes learning and development of team spirit an enjoyable task. In Wal-Mart, an online gaming exercise for safety ensured that all the targeted 5000 employees took the learning exercise!

Gamification-led tools can also foster collaboration and knowledge sharing practices across the organization. The tools are designed such that employees who post questions and those who respond both gain points for participation. Employees with the highest participation levels receive titles that are displayed against their names. Similarly, employees are encouraged to share and receive feedback with each other or send appreciation, while gaining points/ stickers that would be displayed against their name. These simple motivational techniques propel employees to collaborate and participate at work.

Valuable clues

What does it mean for organizations and the HR? Apart from having actively engaged employees, organizations now also have valuable employee related data, for gamification tools provide a mine of information about employee behaviour and responses.  Which programs are doing well, which ones need improvement, which ones elicit maximum participation – data shows the answers.  Badges and certificates help nurture desired employee behaviour. They also serve as ‘any time feedback’ mechanisms, identifying team members that need to be reached out to.

Gamification has the potential to be a strategic tool for organizations and can make a difference to multiple aspects of people management processes. If used in a defined and systematic manner, taking into account the organizational and people needs, it can create a stream of benefits ranging from talent attraction and improved learning mechanisms to higher levels of engagement at work. Just what a HR team would want!

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