HR tech in practice: gamification could prove highly effective for organizations looking to engage their staff.

Gamification is a strategy that, when deployed effectively, can deliver valuable results for various types of organizations.

By introducing elements of game mechanics, design and evaluation into business areas such as HR and recruitment, companies can see results that could be difficult to achieve with more traditional techniques.

So how does gamification work within HR, and what can your business do to gain maximum results from this method?

gamification in action

Gamification can be applied in various areas of business, in a number of different ways.

As far as HR and recruitment are concerned, some of the most common applications of this approach include using specially designed games to assess job candidates, and introducing quizzes or game-based activities to support internal talent development and team building.

Several high-profile organizations have used gamification to improve their hiring and people management. PwC, the professional services network, has evaluated applicants with a game called Multipoly. The game consisted of two rounds, starting with players submitting an application and taking part in a virtual interview and internship. Those selected to progress went on to participate in person in the second stage of the game, which was held at the firm's Budapest office.

Communications technology firm Cisco has also embraced gamification, as have the likes of KPMG, Google and the US Army.

Randstad has contributed to the development of this concept in HR and recruitment through the Randstad Innovation Fund (RIF), a corporate venture investment scheme designed to support growth and modernization in various spaces.

Its portfolio includes Pymetrics, a tool that enables more efficient sourcing and matching of candidates through gamified psychometric assessments. It consists of 20 short games that evaluate individuals' soft skills by measuring dozens of cognitive and emotional traits not directly linked to education and professional background.

RIF has also supported HackerRank, an online community that sources, ranks and matches top programmers with jobs through coding challenges in a range of programming languages.

Paul Jacquin, managing partner at RIF, commented: "Ventures such as this demonstrate the importance and value of progressive thinking in the HR space, and specifically how gamification can unlock exciting opportunities for employers and candidates alike."

the benefits

As the examples of Pymetrics and HackerRank show, gamification can be a productive strategy for organizations looking for a fresh, exciting way to capture the attention of potential candidates and evaluate job applicants.

One of the key benefits of the Pymetrics system is that its games allow employers to look beyond the education, qualifications and experience listed on an individual's CV. It provides an insight into the soft skills and emotional intelligence many companies are looking for.

Another big advantage of gamification is the level of engagement it can achieve with participants. This is highly valuable if you are looking to attract and hold the interest of 'passive' candidates - people who are not actively looking for a job, but could be open to a new career opportunity should an attractive one come up.

The engagement benefit of gamification will also interest organizations looking for ways to maximize productivity by keeping existing employees invested in their work.

In a recent report published by professional services firm Aon, 540 millennial job applicants were asked to share their views on gamification. The respondents universally agreed that game-style elements held their attention, and cited benefits such as immediate feedback and interactive, challenging assessments.

However, the research also highlighted some of the potential drawbacks of gamification, showing the need for employers to minimize risk by planning their strategy carefully.

getting gamification right

According to the Aon findings, it's important to find the right tone and balance when introducing gamification elements into recruitment or talent development. Anything identified too strongly as a 'game' could be viewed as unprofessional and possibly inappropriate, particularly in recruitment situations where the stakes are high for candidates.

The company stated: "The challenge is to ensure that your gamification elements are fit for purpose. Every candidate wants to be taken seriously, so you must ensure that your assessments are justifiable."

There are a number of key steps businesses can take to increase the chances of gamification delivering results and getting a positive reaction from participants. These include:

  • Having a clear objective and designing the process with this in mind.
  • Balancing gamification with other tools and methods.
  • Communicating with candidates or staff to ensure they understand the point of the game and what is being assessed.
  • Collecting feedback from participants to identify elements of the process that are working well or might need revising.
  • Regularly reviewing to ensure assessments are always relevant and appropriate.

Taking a thoughtful, analytical approach to gamification is likely to prove vital for firms that want to gain maximum results from the method.

If you get it right, your business could soon benefit from a more varied and productive recruitment process, increased engagement in the workplace and more effective talent development.