HR Tech Update: Treating work as play with gamification

HR TECHNOLOGY: For every HR challenge today, there is a technological solution aimed at tackling the issue.

In the effort to keep employees engaged, tech vendors have turned to gamification to do so. But, what exactly is gamification?

Gamification, as the name suggests, is the use of game-like elements in non-game contexts. It applies the same principles that makes games like Minecraft, chess, and even football so addictive, which is the ability for employees to take charge of their participation, giving them a sense of autonomy and a steady stream of dopamine.

Dopamine is released when something is pleasurable or satisfying, and humans are hard-wired to seek it. A “good job” from one’s boss, for example, releases dopamine, and gamification can help to provide a steady stream of it without the boss’ direct intervention.

A survey by Zippia earlier this year found that 90% of employees say gamification makes them more productive at work and companies that use gamification are seven times more profitable than those who opt against it. Thanks to the release of dopamine, gamification can help workers feel more energised and reduce stress levels.

In the HR technology context, there are two ways for gamification to be implemented in the workplace.

The first is when the business initiates their own game to attract interest in vacancies in their organisation. Hackathons are an easy way to look at gamifying the hiring process, but there are also more interesting examples.

Marriott International, for example, introduced a game called My Marriott Hotel on its Facebook jobs and career page as part of its recruitment strategy in India and China.

Candidates were invited to run their own virtual hotel where they design their own restaurant, run inventory, train employees and of course, service guests. The game simulates the hotel management business.

Players are then directed to Marriott’s official recruitment page to submit their resumes.

While the implementation had its issues, it was nevertheless a success that showcases a candidate’s talents in a role better than any traditional interview process.

There are also gamification tech solutions that companies can adopt to increase employee engagement.

Platforms like Appreiz and feet’s are good examples. Appreiz uses peer-to-peer recognition to help spur an employee’s motivation to perform at work, incorporating points systems and a leaderboard. Malaysia’s feet’s works on the same principle as Appreiz, and points can be used to redeem in-app rewards like vouchers and discounts at brand partners.

Then, there are also platforms that aim to help keep employee training more engaging.

Atiom and Indonesia’s Disprz are built on the basis of bite-sized training, which creates a sense of progress throughout each lesson, the likes that makes games like Candy Crush so entertaining.

Both platforms also offer mini-quizzes following each lesson to give employees a chance to apply their knowledge and tap into their primal urge to answer correctly and score points.

Getting gamification right in an organisation not only helps drive interest, but it also helps to measure performance in real time.

The various leaderboards provide opportunities for a bird's-eye view of how employees are doing in a very egalitarian way, instead of relying on a manager's observation, which risks overlooking certain employees.

Depending on the type of workforce the business intends to foster, gamification can be a significant asset.

HR Tech Update, by Chief of Staff Asia's Technology Editor Ellia Pikri, appears every Thursday from 6:00am.

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