Gamification in HR: Use Cases and Best Practices

Aug 31, 2021
Gamification in HR: Use Cases and Best Practices

If you’ve ever used a referral system to recruit new hires, organized hackathons, or introduced leaderboards to boost healthy competition in the workplace, congratulations! You’ve used some techniques of gamification in HR. However, HR gamification doesn’t end up with leaderboards, points, and badges for completing tasks. In fact, there are so many workable and proven techniques to spice up your human resources game a bit.

This post will review gamification examples in HR from renowned companies like Deloitte, HubSpot, and Starbucks. We’ll also learn more about use cases of gamification in HR. Read on!

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Case #1: Recruitment

The recruitment process is a two-way street where you must generate inbound traffic of candidates and develop outbound channels to find highly demanded talents. Some gamification techniques below can help you spice up your recruitment game a bit. 

Rewards and points system

One of the most efficient techniques to discover new talent pools is referral recruitment. It’s proven that referral hires are up to 55% times faster to hire, and they’re up to 25% profitable than the other candidates. 

To motivate your employee to bring fresh blood to your company and convince referral candidates of further cooperation, consider these HR gamification techniques:

  • Sign-on bonuses. In some niches, competition for talents is fierce. That’s why, to attract candidates and increase offer acceptance rates, companies sign-on bonuses paid for accepting the job offer. For example, some of Amazon departments and McDonald’s locations sign-on bonuses to speed up their hiring. 

  • Referral bonuses are paid for successful referral hires. Companies can vary the conditions for bonus pay-out and pay after a candidate successfully fulfills a probation period, completes a project, or accepts a job offer.

Hackathons and events

Hackathons, hiring weeks, and other events are common in the IT and digital industries. They’re a win-win for both potential candidates and employers. Tech events like hackathons allow companies to boost their brand awareness, get valuable contacts, hire top talents in a short timeframe, and even save money on recruitment. 

Quizzes and games

Games, quizzes, and trivia are other types of event marketing to generate talents. Google is considered a pioneer in gamified recruitment. In 2004, the company placed a billboard with a mathematical quiz in the heart of Silicon Valley. The task on a billboard was the first in a series of a tricky quests that eventually led solvers to Google Labs, an R&D center that hired talented engineers. Thus, Google weeded out non-qualifying candidates, engaged with their target audience, and built a buzz around their names.

Unilever is another example of a company that uses games as a part of its candidate screening process. Since 2016, they’ve been using AI-based screening and neuroscience-based games to sift through candidates. Only after several steps of automated and game-based, candidates get a chance to be invited to an interview with a recruiter. Such a complicated yet non-biased approach helps the company hire a diverse workforce and decrease the recruiter’s time spent on application reviews by a whopping 75%.

Case #2: Onboarding

Research from Glassdoor reveals that effective employee onboarding leads to positive engagement and a strong connection with the company’s culture. Moreover, well-onboarded employees demonstrate actionable results within the first week.

No wonder HR managers focus on efficient onboarding to introduce new hires to the company’s internal policies and standards, workflows, employee training, and more. To redefine this process, you can use the gaming elements like:

  • Badges. Stickers, badges, and level-ups help new hires celebrate their success (for example, completing a part of the mandatory onboarding), keep them posted on their progress, and be intrinsically motivated. 

  • Progress bars. They’re widely used in onboarding software to show advancement and highlight gaps in the onboarding workflows that haven’t been completed yet.

  • Games. They help simulate situations and issues related to real-life challenges. Thus, employees demonstrate their logic, problem-solving skills, and professionalism in a simulated environment. One of the pioneering examples in this field was the group of Marriott hotels. They launched the “My Marriott Hotel” video game that tested soft skills like conflict resolution with potential customers and service speed. In this game, players would get points for satisfied customers and lost points when they failed to serve them successfully. The game was launched in 2011 and still is widely cited as a successful example of gamification in HR. 

Case #3: Learning and development

According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, 49% of employees don’t have time to learn at work. This disappointing statistic proves that companies must invest more of their efforts into microlearning, learning by doing, and other time-saving training activities. 

Another challenge of training in the workplace is creating a sense of a seamless, joyful, and rewarding experience. That’s when gamification in the workplace steps in. Check out these proven techniques that’ll make learning in the workplace less routine and more productive:

  • Leaderboards create a moderate sense of competition in the workplace and motivate employees to push themselves and colleagues further. A beauty retailer L’Oréal introduced a mobile application to boost training and knowledge-sharing across their global Beauty Advisor team. The key features include micro-learning courses and a leaderboard system with badges to appreciate the most proactive learners.  

  • Challenges and marathons. Unlike leaderboards that don’t imply any material encouragement, challenges and marathons incentivize learners with prizes and non-material rewards like extra weekends, vacation days, and so on.

  • Storytelling and role-playing are forms of the “learning by doing” approach that makes learners take the reins and become mentors themselves. For example, J.B. Robinson Jewelers use role-playing as a training tool for sales representatives that practice their communication skills, sales techniques, dealing with objections, and more.

Case #4: Promoting a corporate culture

35% of the surveyed American employees will turn the job offer if the corporate culture doesn’t resonate with them. On the other hand, employees that share the same values with their organizations help generate up to 33% increased revenues. 

If you noticed a lack of employee motivation and engagement and mismatch in the corporate culture, you might want to use tips and tricks from Dell to harmonize the working environment. The company admits they have a competitive culture that makes their employees push the boundaries and learn constantly. In 2005, the tech company launched a series of game-based courses to improve compliance with the company’s policies and privacy standards. Employees competed to score the best results, and, as a result, the company received a 94% compliance success rate.

Another uncommon example of gamification in HR comes from IKEA. The company introduced a VR experience to train their employees about eight fundamental rules of their corporate culture: Togetherness, Cost-consciousness, Lead by example, and others. 

With series of the VR-experiences, IKEA managed to promote its values among employees in a fun and engaging manner, keep the event cost-effective, and make it an immersive employee experience.

To follow IKEA’s way, you don’t necessarily need pricey software and technologies. There’s plenty of employee recognition software like Workmates that allows to gather feedback, track team morale, and celebrate achievements together. For example, the application allows coworkers to give digital “kudos” that can be exchanged for gifts. This feature boosts employee engagement rate by creating a sense of belonging to something big and instantly rewarding.

Final thoughts

Common use cases of gamification in HR include recruitment, onboarding process, training, and employee engagement. However, employers implement gamification to foster the adoption of internal standards and policies too. For example, when Ford Motors Company launched a game that trained the staff about new vehicles models, configurations, and financial details, they saw a 417% increase in learning engagement. That’s a brilliant example of effortless gamification at work that improves the adoption of the company’s policy.  

Typical examples of gamification in HR are leaderboards, points systems, badges and stickers, virtual games, role-playing, or bonuses. There’s no silver bullet, though. A perfect gamified HR experience stirs employees’ interest and is compelling enough to participate. 

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About Author: Maryna Zavyiboroda is a Content Marketer at HRForecast, a German HR tech company. She enjoys writing about HR management, recruitment best practices, and more.