Friday, 18 January 2013

Gamification - that's the name of the game HR

I have to be honest and say that I am seriously excited about the potential for the use of games in the HR field. Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems. There seems to be the beginning of movement developing lead by the likes of Professor Byron Reeves and supported with some excitement by Gartner, Deloitte, NixonMcInnes etc. etc. Here is a short video by Professor Reeves:

Virtually all areas of business could benefit from gamification as it can help to achieve three broad business objectives 1) to change behaviour; 2) to develop skills; or 3) to enable innovation.

Changing Behaviours
- The most common use of gamification is to engage a specific audience and encourage them to change a target set of behaviours. By turning the desired behaviour change into a game, people become engaged and encouraged to adopt new habits. For example:

• Brands can leverage gamification to engage consumers to better understand their products, and become advocates for the brand to provide product endorsements, and drive customer loyalty.
• Companies can use gamification to improve employee performance and to motivate adoption of new business processes.

Developing Skills - Gamification is increasingly being used in both formal education and in corporate training programs to engage students in a more immersive learning experience. While many approaches are being used, they can generally be divided into two categories:

• Building a game layer (more on what this means coming soon) on top of the lesson material, where competition and/or collaboration between students is encouraged with game mechanics such as points for actions, badges for rewards and leader boards for competition.

• Turning the lesson into a game, where in addition to the game layer of points and badges, simulation and animation is used to immerse the students in the environment and allow them to practice new skills in a safe, virtual environment that provides immediate feedback.

Enabling Innovation - Innovation games are typically structured quite differently than games designed to change behaviour or develop skills. Innovation games use emergent game structures that provide the goals, rules, tools and play space for the players to explore, experiment, collaborate and solve problems. Innovation games generally use game mechanics to create a more engaging experience, but the key is to engage lots of players, solving problems through crowdsourcing.

 As I said earlier, I'm really excited about this new field and about its potential for HR professionals. However, a word of warning; Gamification is not easy. According to Gartner 80% of current applications will fail to meet business objectives largely due to poor design. In the past 12 months I have spent time developing a relationship with games organisation Quota in the delivery of Sales Force Development solutions. The potential results for HR professionals and their organisations are immense but - I promise - so is the learning curve!

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