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What Is Gamification in HR?

Games are an essential part of the human experience. According to Gartner, “humans are hard-wired to enjoy games and have a natural tendency to interact more deeply in activities that are framed in a game construct.” Increasingly, games are finding use in a wide array of contexts. The business world is no exception, with good reason.

Gamification is becoming an important tool for human resources (HR) management. It makes sense that Pittsburg State University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources focuses on using these tools for employee development, education and performance. When used effectively, gamification can significantly improve these processes through increased employee engagement, intrinsic motivation and collaboration.

What Does Gamification Mean?

Games can engage and motivate people through fun, rewards, social collaboration and competition. Plus, games can be addictive, driving engagement and motivation to deeper levels. Gamification is utilizing games in contexts that are traditionally non-game related. People engage in many aspects of improving their lives through gamified experiences. For instance, gamified language learning apps and fitness trackers use systems of points, rewards and achievement sharing to motivate continued education and growth.

Why Use Gamification in Business?

Gartner defines gamification as “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.” The reasons to use gamification in the business environment may be external, i.e., improved customer relations, engagement, sales and public perception. Or the intended outcomes may be internal, as in improving the employee experience, productivity and corporate culture.

The internal business applications of gamification are of particular importance as Millennials and Gen Z workers become part of the modern workforce. These younger generations have grown up with games integrated into many aspects of everyday life, from social media and video games to educational app-based games in school. Therefore, these workers may be prone to engage more naturally in work processes through gamified experiences.

How Is Gamification Incorporated into HR Processes?

The primary purpose of gamification, to engage and motivate users, is nearly synonymous with a major objective of HR management, to engage and motivate employees. Thus, many companies have effectively incorporated gamification across various HR processes, from recruitment and onboarding through professional development and retention. Research shows gamification positively impacts employee satisfaction, team building and internal communications. These factors drive desirable employee behavior and collaboration, resulting in improved productivity and efficiency.

Four Examples of Gamification in HR

  1. Recruitment

Recruiting talented employees is an essential yet challenging aspect of HR management. Some companies are augmenting the recruiting process with gamified experiences, having potential new hires process through simulations of working with the company in different ways. This sort of gamification can engage a job candidate far longer than an employment opportunity webpage with a job description, generating more interest and investment. Plus, it can provide HR recruitment personnel with more information about the job candidate’s applied knowledge and skills, values and work ethic.

  1. Onboarding and Training

Another application of gamification is educating and training employees both in the onboarding process and in further professional development. Team-based gamified training can promote collaboration and investment in company culture throughout the employee experience. And organizations can apply gamification to develop new skills like learning how to use a new internal mobile communications network or fostering social media literacy and engagement in older employees.

  1. Mundane Tasks

Few employees genuinely love the day-to-day, time-consuming tasks required of them. Paperwork and daily reports are not particularly interesting or inspiring. Injecting fun and healthy competition into mundane tasks can help engage employees in otherwise unengaging activities.

  1. Retention

Retention may seem like more of an intended outcome of gamification, resulting from increased employee satisfaction and engagement. Employee turnover is costly for companies, both in the loss of skilled workers and the cost of recruitment and onboarding of replacements. So this is undoubtedly a critical intended outcome of gamification, but it can also drive retention directly. Gamification can reward employee progress, achievements, promotions and raises. These models can help employees monitor their own development and improvement, motivating them to achieve higher goals and further invest in their work.

Gamification can effectively benefit many processes involved with HR management. It can also offer HR leadership a great deal of actionable data. This information can be useful in evaluating employee performance and the efficacy of various HR initiatives, providing valuable insights into areas needing improvement and modification. And, as younger generations assimilate into the workforce, gamification is poised to become more and more essential to maintaining staff motivation and productivity.

Learn more about Pittsburg State University’s online MBA in Human Resources.


HR Trend Institute: 9 Examples of Gamification in HR

The Balance Careers: How Gamification Can Improve HR Management

eLearning Industry: The Power of Gamification in HR

Forbes : Future of Work: Using Gamification for Human Resources

ResearchGate: Use of Gamification in Human Resource Management: Impact on Engagement and SatisfactionGartner: Information Technology Glossary

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