Article: Gamification at the workplace: Is it a reality or myth?

Learning Technology

Gamification at the workplace: Is it a reality or myth?

Games can be used to cultivate better strategies and better performance with a way of feedback and scoring and can track an employees’ skill set.
Gamification at the workplace: Is it a reality or myth?

Gamification is a comparatively new concept developed by companies to recruit, select and maintain employee engagement in the job. Use of games in recruitment helps the employers judge few aspects of interviewees which wasn’t possible with the traditional recruitment process. Whether or not one is a team player cannot be judged by traditional interview process but putting two teams against one another helps the management see who is able to manage the team. Not only that, but most of the out-of-box thinking happens while playing. It helps them screen more than one candidate at once. Artificial intelligence plays an important role too. 

The research shows that playing games is forbidden in organizations but that’s because of a few employees playing games on the office computer to steal time. But games can be used to cultivate better strategies and better performance with way of feedback and scoring and can track an employees’ skill set. There is a need to do things differently and learn new ways of doing things in this dynamic and ever-changing business environment. The sophistication of strategic games has risen tremendously. Early strategic games were dull and boring, however, with the rise in AI, such games have become well-designed and interactive. Games can create an experiential, interactive and tailored understanding of strategies at low cost.

The user of the game i.e the candidates for the job gets insight on the tasks and skills that are required for the job. He can make a choice on whether the job is really going to be of any interest to him and does it use all his skills. It creates a sense of goodwill towards the brand, the candidate can see that the organisation believes in innovation and creativity and doesn’t just focus on the traditional way of working. The candidate gets deeply invested with the brand and gets to coordinate with people who may be working with him in the future. The games engage the candidate and they test skills based on different areas like cognitive, strategy thinking, coordination, and collaboration within the team. It enables recruiters to assess candidates’ drive for innovation, their ability to problem solve, and their capacity to perform under pressure. It can test aptitude for the job, increasing the likelihood of finding candidates with the right skills, and a good fit for the job. The hiring managers can easily test specific personality traits which becomes harder with pen and paper test as the results may be baised. It personalizes, humanises and adds fun to the recruitment process.

Google has been organizing a Google Code Jam software-writing competition for 12 years as a way to find fresh, new talent to work for the company. Not only the winners are given prizes upto $50,000 but Google also use this platform to attract right talent to the company. Shell has developed a game called “The ShellExplorer Game” to enhance its recruitment process. It works by inviting potential employees to tackle various problem-solving quizzes and challenges that reflect the type of work the successful candidate would be expected to perform in the role. Domino’s Pizza Mogul game motivates the customer to design their own pizza and chose the toppings and create brand awareness amongst young people as a fun place to work. Marriott, a hospitality giant, had introduced a game called ‘My Marriott Hotel' as part of its recruitment gamification strategy on its Facebook jobs and careers page. Seimens introduced Plantsville –that puts the player in the shoes of the plant manager at Seimens. It was very helpful as a player who has spent hours in virtually running a factory would perform better in real terms as he is already familiar with the whole process. PwC created Multipoly, which allows candidates to work in teams and solve real-world business problems. Multipoly give task based on competencies they have selected like building business knowledge, digital skills, and relational skills.

Gamification are also used for employee engagement like Employee pulse check survey is a  very short and specific survey. It consists of small questions like “how happy are you with your role”. It is a great way to get real-time insights into the day to day routine of employees and their moods while performing a certain task. Employees feel like they are being given importance and are more productive. These are very subtle questions but they reflect greatly on a person’s behavior and relationship with co-workers. Amber is an AI assistant which talks to the employees in a humanized, personal way. There are two options, one is to chat with amber and other option is to chat anonymously which is called “anonymous bat” in which employees can mention their issues without revealing their identity. It is helpful as it doesn’t jeopardize anyone’s job. The report that is generated helps the managers figure out why employees are unhappy with their jobs and how can that be rectified.

Learning and development at the workplace can also be promoted through gamification. Schneider Electric e-learning platform has key features like Courses, Videos, Quizzes, Ask an expert, Scoreboard, Leader Board & Expert answers. The participants are ranked within a learning group based on their overall performance and badges are assigned. Walmart began using gamification two years ago to deliver safety training for 5000 of its associates across its distribution centers. They found a way to improve worker training and reduce workplace injury through gamification. They hired a startup company Axonify to provide a 3-minute game that provides safety information and multiple-choice questions that are spread throughout the game. 

Employee well-being is yet another area which is being explored by organizations for gamification. Stepathlon: Walk your way to health is a pedometer-based event meant for mass participation. In the 100th day, race program participants are urged to complete a daily goal of 10,000 steps. With increasing mobility in the workforce, employees are moving towards more smaller, portable and mobile devices. Yammer mobile application helps the employees to be well connected to everyone with ease without using desktop or computer.IBM believes in social engagement through employees. It believes not in mass communication but in masses of communicators. It encourages open exchange of ideas by using ‘blogosphere’ a platform for social communication.

Gamification is still in its nascent stages and needs lot of improvement with respect to how it can be implemented. Most of the games that were discussed were to make the users aware of a particular policy or vision of the company. Once the user has finished the gameplay there is not much motivation to use it again. There is a limited time frame for which the game remains relevant. Gamification can sometimes send a wrong message to top management as they think it as a mode for lost profitability. It is very much needed to explain to the leaders the difference between gaming and gamification as to gamification uses concepts of games in the current business environment to drive motivation, engage employees and influence behavior. While games are only for entertainment without any specific purpose. It also requires hiring professional coaches or agencies to acquire strategies for gamification to be designed which are not affordable by “SME”.

Companies are trying to be innovative but still there is a gap between planning games and implementation of those plans. To successfully apply gamification, the game must be appropriate to your domain, it should also be relevant to the job profiles. The same game cannot be used in two different organizations as the context may change depending upon the workforce and goals of the organization. Apart from this the company also need to see ROI of using gamification with respect to cost-benefit analysis.

Topics: Learning Technology, Life @ Work

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