Gamification in HR: Going Beyond the Buzzword

In the recruiting world, it seems there is a lot of discussion about gamification even though gamification is something that’s been around for years. Let’s get this out of the way up front – for almost all companies or organizations, gamification should not be viewed as a solution for attracting candidates (America's Army is one of a few exceptions). However, gamification can be an effective method of encouraging behavior once you are already interacting with a candidate.

Gamification is one of many problem-solving tools you should consider when approaching a challenge. As a general rule of thumb, any discussion about gamification should first start with questions versus answers – it is only through careful questioning that you can then determine if gamification offers an answer. The first question to ask is not "What should our gamification strategy be," but instead, "What are our primary challenges from a recruiting standpoint? Are there aspects of gamification that could offer potential benefits that address these challenges?"

For example, many of you have likely read articles on, or even tested out, Marriott's use of gamification that launched a few years back. Their tactic included the development of an interactive game within their Facebook page allowing players to manage all the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a kitchen within a virtual hotel. [While this game is not currently live, you can view a trailer for it here.] Without knowing the strategic foundation and problem the game aimed to address, it may likely have appeared somewhat elementary. Yet understanding that the target audience was young, international (many having recently moved from a rural environment to an urban one), and lacking the basic knowledge of what happens within a hotel – the simplicity of the game was by design. Marriott needed a way to educate an audience on what working in the hotel kitchen environment was like, and research showed the audience members were using social media channels to discover job opportunities and were also were heavy online gamers. This strategy addressed the questions noted above and was not put into place just to have gamification tactics.

Ultimately, to be successful gamification should never be based on a  "wouldn't it be cool if" idea a client or agency has. Always put your audience first; understand their needs, their behaviors, and their motivations. Then, understand your brand’s recruitment and employee challenges. By doing so you can have the best chance of developing a recruitment strategy that meets your objectives and offers an experience that resonates with your target audience. If this strategy includes some form of gamification, then great!

With that said, while it is critical to first understand your problem before considering gamification techniques, there are certain areas that gamification is often a potentially great strategy for. Because gamification is best used to encourage behavior with an existing audience, the following types of efforts offer great place to focus your initial consideration:

• Internal Employee Engagement
• Onboarding Processes
• Performance/Recognition
• Employee Referral Programs (ERPs)

Written by Pete Price, Experience Planner at JWT INSIDE

Views: 372

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 18, 2014 at 1:00pm


Posting openly offers the poster's services in help with the subject of the posting.

Comment by Jerry Albright on March 18, 2014 at 1:39pm


Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 18, 2014 at 4:20pm

My opinion.  Gamification = mental masturbation and there are a lot of folks trying to sell it.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 18, 2014 at 8:26pm

I think this line is the main take-away on this topic as it relates to RBC

 "Always put your audience first; understand their needs, their behaviors, and their motivations."

Comment by JWTINSIDE on March 19, 2014 at 11:27am

Thanks @Kelly Blokdijk - you're right. That is the main takeaway here. Gamification is certainly not something we sell to clients just to "sell." If it doesn't make sense in the strategy, it's not going to work. Plain and simple.

Comment by Jerry Albright on March 19, 2014 at 11:31am

Are you a real person?  Are you a recruiter?  I checked out your profile - went to your page and found it to be HORRIBLY confusing.  Who are you?

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 19, 2014 at 2:45pm

@ Jerry:

With all due respect to our Blatant Infomercialist:

While it is difficult to be both a real person AND a recruiter, it is sometimes possible, or so I've been told...


Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 20, 2014 at 7:12pm

Perhaps Jerry, as an "Experience Planner" Pete here sort of didn't plan for this experience very well.  Experience Planner, seriously how could anybody type that after their name?


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