2013 HRMS Trends So Far: Gamification

Widely touted as one of the hottest HRMS trends, the likes of Forbes, Gartner and any number of other commentators all placed a bet on 2013 being the year of gamification. And it’s not hard to see why. After all, the computer gaming generation is in the workplace, thanks to social media pushing Farmville, Angry Birds and the rest there’s almost no such thing as a ‘non-gamer’ anymore; and there’s buckets of research showing the impact of gamified marketing strategies on customers. But is it really the employee’s turn in 2013?

What is Gamification?

To pinch Gartner’s definition, “Gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in non-game business scenarios and to change behaviors in a target audience to achieve business outcomes.” So that’s taking the common features of games – points, rewards, badges, levels, achievements, and scores – and using them to encourage to interact with your product, service, initiative, etc.

Gamification has been widely used in external-facing business initiatives such as sales campaigns and brand-building to engage with customers, more and more these techniques are being applied on the internal front with employees… which is where HR comes in. Because the most common applications are all traditional HRMS activities.

Retention & Engagement

HRMS gamification can be used to support and drive values and corporate culture, rewarding positive behaviors such as collaboration and innovation (suggestions or actual). The game platform can publicly acknowledge individual actions while maintaining full records of program activity which can then in turn feed into performance management and appraisal.

Career Development

By gamifying job elements such as expenses, returns, lead generation, continuing professional development and so on, not only can a healthy sense of competition enter into the business but the known high-flyers also become role models for the rest of the workforce, demonstrating some key indicators of top performance.

Learning & Development

The use of games in training is almost traditional as course participants are asked to build yet another Lego helicopter against the clock. But gamified online learning programs can turn mandatory (often perceived as “dull”) compliance training such as employment law, harassment, diversity and so on into an interesting challenge while also providing HR with statistics on who has completed the necessary training.

So, Is It Really Taking off in 2013?

Well, recent real-life gamification examples include: an employee referral system that offers points (that translate into prizes) for employees using it, an internal corporate re-branding carried out via a trading card game, a health and wellbeing program in which achievements around physical fitness and better eating are acknowledged, and an onboarding game in which new recruits compete in levels and missions to explore the virtual map of different organizational departments and offices.

Whether gamification will prove to have been a defining HRMS trend in 2013 has yet to be seen (and interestingly, Forbes already have it on their list of predictions for 2014!) but there’s no denying its potential. there’s something about human nature that just gets drawn into a competition scenario; even things we have to do become compelling when points are awarded according to how well we do them. After all, that’s exactly what made Nintendo’s Wii Fit a must-have item in so many households… same principle.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall