Tue, Aug 13, 2013
This post is by Katie Loehrke, a human resources subject matter expert and editor with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a nationally recognized compliance resource firm. She is the editor of J. J. Keller’s Employment Law Today newsletter.
From a staffing perspective, employers’ challenges begin with hiring the right person. This task requires being able to get and keep an applicant’s interest while giving him or her a realistic idea of what a position entails. The challenge continues after a hire is made, as many companies struggle to successfully onboard employees. After orientation, it shifts to ensuring employees understand expectations and to keeping engagement levels high. Engagement levels have been a particular challenge for employers in the current economy.
Some companies are increasing their success in these areas by introducing elements of gameplay (also known as gamification) into their hiring, training, and motivation strategies. For instance, through Facebook, Marriott Hotels offers a virtual gaming environment, called “My Marriott Hotel,” in which players manage a hotel restaurant kitchen.
The game is not unlike other addicting virtual applications, but it’s proved to be an effective recruitment tool for Marriott International. According to Francesca Martinez, the company’s vice president of global talent acquisition, about a third of players eventually click on a “try it for real” link within the game, which takes them to the careers section of Marriott’s website.
What Is Gamification?
Gamification doesn’t mean you have to take every work process and make it into a board or computer game. It means adding certain elements of gaming to non-game applications. It can include modifying any workplace practice to entail the goals and structure of a game. It might mean creating levels of progression or a points system, or providing rankings or rewards for employees.
However, the goal of gamification is ongoing engagement, not gameplay, according to Rajat Paharia, founder of the gamification company Bunchball. The concept, he says, “helps change the way people perceive their work in a positive way.”
For instance, a company with data entry technicians could transform this somewhat ordinary job by assigning individuals to teams and creating rules by which teams can earn points. Perhaps each complete and correct entry earns a point, and the team with the most points at the end of each week earns a privilege or recognition. Sometimes gamification of a process is as simple as inserting a level of competition and making an ordinary process more interesting.
This thinking can also be applied to training processes, which are often computer based and can be somewhat dull for employees. Whether you hire a company to gamify a training program or you simply package it differently, applying such principles to training can make it more engaging and effective.
Take Performance to a Different Level
If this is something you and your company think could benefit your workforce, consider a few things. First, what processes are you going to infuse with game thinking and mechanics, and why? Remember that altering a system or process in this manner may be more complex than simply assigning points to an already struggling process.
To truly engage employees, a game must evolve with an individual over time and track his or her progress. For the novice user, a game must include clear-cut and achievable goals and challenges while providing regular feedback on progress. As the user or player moves along, there must be fresh and challenging content and new activities. As they reach the highest levels, players must feel some level of exclusivity or elevated status. This might be related to a bonus structure, or increased responsibility, authority, or freedoms.
Unless you’re confident in your understanding of game mechanics, you may wish to consult with another company that has successfully implemented gamification or hire an outside firm to help you implement the concept around a particular process.
How are you applying elements of gamification within your work structure?