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The traditionally admin-centric HR department has become a strategic business unit. Gamification can help with this new disposition.

Gamification and HR

The HR department is often mistaken for a complaints department, where employees take their grievances in order to have them ‘kicked up the ladder’ (escalated) to management level. This is true to a certain extent but it is not in fact the principle function of an HR department.

Human resources is defined as “the department of a business or organisation that deals with the hiring, administration, and training of staff”. Traditionally, HR was admin-centric, but these days it’s become a strategic business unit.

So how can gamification help with this new disposition?

By using different gaming mechanics, such as fast feedback, goals, transparency and community collaboration, companies are engaging their employees, enhancing productivity and driving business success.

1. How can gamification increase human performance?

A gamification technique that works wonders in this sphere is goal setting. It’s a given that success breeds success and accomplishment leads to further accomplishment, so by setting reasonable and manageable goals, you are providing a roadmap to success. By breaking large projects down into manageable chunks, employees can work toward a steady goal and incrementally complete the project. Remember to amplify the intrinsic reward of completing a goal with external rewards, making each achieved milestone a meaningful and memorable experience.

2. How can gamification increase employee engagement?

Gamification injects some much needed fun into serious situations or odious tasks. It is human nature to enjoy games, and in a case like this, why not capitalise on our innate need to either compete or co-operate? For employees with a competitive streak, install a leaderboard or similar mechanic to show everyone who’s ‘top of the pops’.

For those that aren’t necessarily competitive, a more social approach might be ideal. Take advantage of your employees’ capacity for cooperation by incorporating a social narrative, like a message board or timeline, where employees can communicate and collaborate with one another and get that feeling they are all working toward something larger than themselves. There’s a whole blog on the topic “How to keep employees engaged with gamification”.

3. How do you enhance performance?

 By creating and implementing appropriate people and organisational solutions as outlined above, the payoff will be an increase in performance. There is direct correlation between engagement and productivity. When people feel they are being treated like individual human beings as opposed to nameless, faceless cogs in some giant machine, their satisfaction translates into dedication and enthusiasm for the tasks at hand. Gamification can inject both fun and meaning into a task or project, which makes people happy – and of course a happy workforce is a productive one! Check out “3 ways to improve sales team performance” for an example.

4. How do you encourage staff buy-in and adherence to company policy and initiatives?

By gamifying the employee onboarding process, making it an enjoyable and memorable experience, new employees will absorb all the vital information and retain it too. You can test this knowledge by holding occasional competitions to see who has retained the information and who needs a refresher course. Don’t forget rewards to cement the experience in the minds of employees as a worthwhile pursuit.

5. How do you tackle high levels of employee disengagement?

Gamification generates a lot of data in the background and gives very fast feedback if you know what you are looking for. By means of data analytics, either done internally or by a dedicated analytics company, you will be able to see what is working and what is not.

Although not a crystal ball that provides absolute clarity on the future, analysing gamification data will alert you to issues before they become critical. Similarly, it will indicate what is working well and where you should focus your efforts. An extremely effective tool in this instance would be the humble survey “Get better survey feedback with gamification”.

6. How do you align the company’s culture with its strategic objectives?

Often strategies fail because companies do not take cognisance of their internal company culture. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a phrase that originated with Peter Drucker, the marketing guru, and was made famous by Mark Fields, the president at Ford – thus it is imperative to take culture into account when strategizing.

Believe it or not, your company has its own internal narrative and if you can tap into that you are already more than half-way there. People need to feel as if they are part of something larger, that they are being called to something that is ultimately worthwhile. There is a story, a narrative, and this is where gamification comes in. If your gamification techniques feed and align with your company’s story you foster not only inclusivity, but also enthusiasm to be part of that story. See the blog on “Why narrative is gamification’s secret weapon?

7. How do you ‘sell’ a gamified solution to your executive team?

More often than not, in this day and age, decision makers are older and don’t ‘get’ the need for gamification. Some may think it’s juvenile, or worry that the workforce will waste time playing games. This is completely understandable and there’s no need to dismiss them with the fatuous ‘OK, Boomer’, you just need to know how to speak their language. In-depth research and demos are your friend. Arm yourself with knowledge by perusing our blogs and be sure to take a look at some case studies.

8. What does implementation look like?

You can’t just drop a gamified solution on your employees like a bomb, timing is essential. The solution must be deployable over a matter of weeks as staff need to be trained and on-boarded into the new solution. Patience is the watchword, as is persistence. Do not expect overnight results, but be sure to analyse overnight feedback. Remember that gamification provides fast if not immediate feedback, which allows you to make adjustments as you roll out the solution. It’s not a ‘fire-and-forget’ situation and the more thought you put into the solution, the more you will get out. By using a flexible approach, you’ll soon see if your strategy starts butting up against your company culture and will be able to take appropriate steps to keep things on track.

9. What about data security?

This is often a sticking point. Any gamified solution that utilises personal information of employees must remain private and where appropriate, anonymous. Remember that gamification, especially digital and electronic solutions, generate a large amount of data in the background and it falls to you to ensure your employees don’t get an Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ vibe from the HR department! Make sure they know their data is safe and secure. Have a look at “Hidden gems of gamification data” for more.

10. It’s all about alignment

Gamification can solve a whole host of HR related issues. The key thing to remember is that your company has a personality and a culture, and asking employees to do things outside of this familiar sphere will seem jarring and unnatural to them. In gamification this is called ludonarrative dissonance, which is just a fancy way of saying the story and the gameplay clash.

By knowing and understanding your corporate culture – the story – you will be able to effectively align your strategy – the gameplay – and drive business results, retain your top talent, and maintain an engaged and enthusiastic workforce.

Want some help with that? Get in touch to talk about how you can get going with gamification in your organisation.