Gamification can improve employee participation, but how can organisations implement it?

Gamification has the potential to help organisations with employee participation and motivation, but some businesses are struggling to put it into effect, says recruiting experts Hays.

Gamification is a term that refers to the use of gaming mechanics, such as achievement badges or leader boards, to encourage engagement or increase motivation among its users. If the user enjoys the experience they are more likely to use the application again or retain their learning.

The term ‘Gamification’ was first used in 2002, but the process still isn’t widely used in workplaces as some businesses have failed to find a practical use for it. Yet its potential, particularly in HR, is wide. For example, organisations could use gamification applications to help onboard new employees, gather employee feedback, create team building events, encourage the use of collaborative tools or implement employee training.

Grant Torrens, Regional Director for Hays Singapore says, “Gamification can be a really effective engagement tool, for example it can help workforces to develop news skills and work collaboratively by tapping into people’s competitive nature and desire to improve. It can give the user control over what they’re doing, providing them with instant feedback on how they are performing and allowing them to earn recognition when they have completed the task.”

Hays shares just some of the ways businesses can use gamification:

Employee feedback
Gathering regular feedback from employees is essential to understanding an organisation’s workforce. Gamification can have a big impact on the quality of feedback a company collects from its employees. By incentivising employees, they are more likely to provide regular and useful feedback on their workplace and their current morale.

Grant explains, “If an organisation is able to harness the benefits of gamification, it can have a real positive impact on their business. For example, by turning something like gathering vital feedback from employees into a fun and perhaps rewarding game, organisations are increasing the likelihood of them receiving worthwhile feedback – which in turn is an effective attraction and retention tool.”

Learning and development
The most common use for gamification in the workplace is learning and development. Research from Harvard Business School in 2019 highlighted the effectiveness of learning at work using gamification. The study found that applying gamification during the learning process had a strong impact on the willingness of employees to not only engage with learning, but to complete the programmes more consistently.

Grant continued, “By using gamification in the learning and development process, organisations can make it more fun. Humans are naturally competitive, so by adding leader boards and making learning a competition, employees are more likely to participate and retain the lessons they learn. Another advantage is that e-learning is also cheaper than traditional training courses.”

Employee wellbeing
Gamification also has the potential to improve employee physical wellbeing, by turning physical activity into a competition. For instance, there are projects which exist that use gamification to encourage activity among the workforce, such as Step Ahead: Zombies. The project includes a walking challenge, where participants have to escape a virtual zombie invasion and those who don’t walk enough are caught by zombies. The developers of the project have said improvements of 20 per cent in employee engagement were common among participating organisations.

But Grant warned that gamification might not be suitable for all organisations or purposes: “Gamification doesn’t guarantee success and it might not be the right approach for what they are trying to accomplish. Organisations must decide whether it is the right approach for them and if it will help them achieve their intended goal.”

This issue is explored further in the latest Hays Journal.

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About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2019 the Group employed 11,500 staff operating from 265 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019:

– the Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million;
– the Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 18% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 32% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA