Gamification & the Candidate and Employee Experience

June 10, 2014

Gamification is the cultural phenomenon that has the potential to revolutionise the way that recruitment and employee relations are defined, but why has this concept come about and what’s all the fuss about?

Gamification: what is it all about?

Games have seen a cultural shift in recent years. As gamification begins its slow infiltration of society, it makes sense that it is going to progress beyond simple forms of entertainment.

As a result, an increasing number of businesses are choosing to integrate game mechanics into their processes, including within the recruitment industry. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2014, 70% of the world’s 2,000 biggest companies will have deployed at least one gamification application. The global marketplace will be worth an estimated $5.5 Billion by 2018. In the Future of Gamification report 53% predict there will be significant advances in the usage and adoption of gamification in the workplace by 2020 with uses ranging from education, to wellness, marketing and communications.

The reason why this is an attractive proposition for many businesses is that, if done well, it can improve both candidate and employee engagement. The reasoning for this may be down to traditional application practices becoming dull:

Studies show that over 70% of employees are not engaged at work, and job applications have become more tedious than ever…When everything else has failed, businesses need to look at industries that successfully manage to engage their users. One of them is the game industry. - Mario Herger, Enterprise Gamification, Mashable

How is gamification changing hiring and retention processes?

The use of typical interview questions such as ‘Why should I hire you’ don’t give any form of indication on the candidates future performance. According to Professor Allen Huffcutt, a job interview expert, the traditional recruitment process is currently fundamentally flawed. He argues that you don’t actually need job interviews at all.

Innovative recruiters can create game methodology’s that simulate the type of work environment as well as testing the candidate’s capabilities. Then, when you have used this process to identify the most suitable candidates, you can then invite them in for an informal interview to sell them the brand and company values. It will also avoid the risk that the candidate is ill-suited to a job of that calibre or skill set.

In the Tech space, companies have been challenging software engineers and developers to compete for jobs by showcasing their technical and creative skills.

Google has launched a global software writing contest to attract talent, likes moths to the proverbial Google flame. The Google Code Jam predominately targets students, with Round 2 of the 2014 global contest starting at the end of last month. The stipulations of this contest are that you are over 18 (at the time of the Onsite World Finals in August), are not a Google employee, or an immediate family member of a Google employee. Although there is no guarantee of a role at Google at the end of it, making the top 25 will secure a trip to the HQ in Silicon Valley and the winner will take away $15,000. Additionally, by quantifying the skillset that Google are looking for, the likelihood that the individual will be considered as part of the future talent pool is higher than for someone who emails through their CV. The candidate also has a unique insight into the Google brand and are well informed about the work environment. For Google, it improves efficiency as the candidate is putting the time in up front (once the front end has been developed) rather than HR and ultimately they end up recruiting the best pre-sifted talent out there.

The implementation has not only penetrated tech companies. GCHQ, the UK intelligence and security organisation, launched a recruitment marketing coding challenge back in 2011 called ‘Can you crack it’ to target hackers, promoting the task through social media. The prospect of fulfilling a fun challenge together with the chance to become a real-life spy at the end of it really upped the ante in the ‘cool employer’ stakes.

Gamification is an approach that is being used at all stages of the employee lifecycle, no more so than for employee engagement and retention. Stimulating existing employees within their work environment is a process that has also seen change due to the influx of gamification. Xerox use gaming mechanisms for their internal training modules with inbuilt integration with the internal social network Yammer. Empowering employees to share their success and make training appear more fun than procedural.

Implementing benchmarking scenarios can reduce ‘diagnosis bias’; the human propensity to label people based on our initial opinions of them. Determining real talent from perceived talent, whether that be at the attraction, assessment or during employment stage, is a game changer in terms of HR processes.

The application of gamification

The use of gamification techniques, when done well, never reveal themselves as a serious game. Roman Rackwithz, CEO of EngagingLabs says that games that relate to community or society engage people in a way that makes them feel like they are never actually playing a game at all. Under the notion of a game the gamer may feel like they are just having a bit of fun, doing things they might not otherwise wish to do, or know they could do. Their results could either lead to a challenge either being completed or in the generation of new product ideas.

Meeting the expectations of your target audience is vital in the design of gamification. Gabe Zichermann, author of ‘Gamification by Design’, suggests that effective applications are 75% psychology and 25% technology. An effective user interface, ranking/reward mechanism and social participation can result in the greatest levels of engagement. If your developer can build an enterprise application that is as addictive as Angry Birds and solves real business problems, you’re probably on to a winner.

Garnter’s four principle means of driving engagement using gamification are as follows:

  1. Accelerated feedback cycles
  2. Clear goals and rules of play
  3. A compelling narrative
  4. Tasks that are challenging but achievable

The rise of gamification is also a win for the tech industry as it is self-perpetuating. As more employers want to introduce these techniques into their business, they will require technical expertise to design and manage the application, thus creating more technical jobs.

Challenge-based recruitment and recognition is the buzzword for the age of talent sourcing in Recruitment 4.0. So is it inevitable that games will become commonplace in the recruitment, development and engagement of employees in the near future? With early adopters reaping the benefits, all signs seem to point to ‘yes’ so there is only one apt conclusion for this blog – it’s officially ‘game on’ for gamification.

To chat more about how ShowTech tech assessments can level up and gamify your recruitment process, get in touch with the team today.

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