Viewpoint: Is Gamification Good for HR?

By Franz Gilbert February 26, 2019
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​You have likely heard about "escape rooms." A group of individuals are locked in a room and given 60 minutes to work together to solve a variety of puzzles that provide clues to help them escape. In 2014, there were 22 escape rooms in the United States, and now there are over 1,800.

Additionally, the video game market has grown from $70.6 billion in 2012 to a current revenue base of $151.9 billion. Board games have also grown into a $9.5 billion industry.

It seems that people enjoy games. The question is: Can HR capitalize on this interest?

Benefits of Gamification

While there is little doubt that playing games can be entertaining, what's less clear is whether gamification detracts from or adds value to professional processes such as HR. HR's adoption of gamification has not seen the same rapid growth as gamification in the consumer market. A 2017 Bersin study on performance management found that just 4.2 percent of respondents use gamification in the performance management process. Only 6.2 percent of rewards practices incorporate gamification to a large extent, according to Bersin's 2017 study on rewards.

I believe that gamification not only provides a different way to interact with workers, but also offers several additional benefits:

  • Millennial appeal. Perhaps the area of HR where gamification use has grown the fastest is in efforts to appeal to Millennials. One research study found that a Fortune 500 company attained a 94 percent adoption rate for its gamification platforms.
  • Increased productivity. There are numerous studies that show gamification can reduce the time it takes to complete tasks.
  • Better long-term engagement. Gamification, if done appropriately, can utilize several techniques to encourage employees to come back to a program and continue to engage. Some examples include using leaderboards and longer-term point systems.
  • Training and development successes. Gamification can create a more engaging learning environment, allowing users to better retain information. Studies show that student retention of information is better in a gamified environment. A particularly pertinent study showed that gamification increased the retention of knowledge for employees who received online training on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • Applied skills. Studies show that individuals can learn both hard and soft skills in a game environment and apply those skills in the real world. Examples of this include teaching veterans how to apply soft skills in a business environment and educating workers on how to apply safety procedures in a hazardous environment.

Franz Gilbert is vice president, solution provider programs, at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Copyright © 2019 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

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