To Gamify or Not to Gamify… HR?

Gamification, the practice of applying elements, tools, and mechanics from games into non-game context, is a growing trend on the global HR technology market nowadays.

Mostly gamification is used in stimulating motivation, enhancing learning, and improving performance of current employees doing their jobs. And generally its application in this domain is described as beneficial and very valuable. For example, Trainingzone in its article “Benefits Of Using Gamification In The Workforce” writes that gamification can improve cognitive abilities of employees, boost their motivation for work, and secure very high engagement and retention rates from them. Another source, HRTechnologist, in the article “Gamification: A Game Changer for HR” lists a number of gamification services that create immersive learning and engagement environment for employees and thus maximize company’s value from them from onboarding process to active team membership. To add to all that, gamification helps the company track the performance and results of its employees and adjust HR processes according to them for maximum effectiveness, efficiency, and, of course, happy workforce.

Certainly, such an approach that works directly with human psychology, as gamification, has its risks. In the article “‘Gamification’ makes a competition out of everyday lifeStarTribune mentions both advantages and dangers of using gamification. The dangers described here include psychological exploitation and manipulation, as well as ethical concerns. Professor Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter in their book “For the Win”, which inspired us to focus on gamification in our business experiments, explore the dangers of this approach further by mentioning privacy and legal issues, deceptive uses, stimulation of unhealthy addiction, etc. Nevertheless, the general agreement among these and other sources is that if applied properly and ethically, gamification can bring the best out of employees and do it in a pleasant, satisfactory, and well-measured manner.

At ENVERACE we experiment with gamification for pre-selection and assessment of candidates applying for jobs related to the domain of environmental research and eco-innovations. Currently we have as our first product the “ENVERACE ME” button, One Button that Pre-selects Them All.

This product represents a button (what a surprise!) that is connected to a job description on the company’s website. The button has an application form with pre-screening algorithms connected to it. When a candidate willing to apply for the job clicks on “ENVERACE ME for [specific company]”, he/she is taken to the application form that asks the candidate to evaluate his/her suitability for the job on 3 levels: as an individual personality, as a specialist in the required domain, and as a potential employee for the job. While going through these levels, the candidate gives all the relevant information to the form, as well as collects achievements and Suitability Points by answering specific questions marked as “Suitability Checks”. When the candidate submits the form, he/she can immediately verify his/her suitability for the job on the basis of his/her accumulated Suitability Score that the algorithm compares with the score of an “ideal” candidate. At the same time the recruiter, who posted the job, receives the leaderboard with all the applicants and their information stored in one place with the applicants arranged according to their Suitability Score into first priority applicants, second priority ones, and so on. The recruiter can then easily approach the most suitable applicants for interview and pool out the relevant data on each one of them for well-argumented recruitment.

While doing our experiments with these gamification elements (progression, levels, achievements, points, and leaderboard), we have noticed that there are recruiters, who understand what gamification is and are benevolent to it, while there are also recruiters and investors, who get confused about the term and consider it to be an on-line fun game that cannot bring serious value. So, we keep struggling in presenting and explaining the use of gamification at ENVERACE, and we are still thinking how to do it clearly, understandably, and attractively… or whether we should really mention gamification in our communication at all and just stick to traditional terms and practices.

What do you think?

We would love to hear your opinion about gamification and its use in HR, as well as how you advise us to present it in our communication.

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