Gamification: A New Trend in HR

gamificationOne of the many clichés about dealing with millennials in the workforce is that while they may be driven and tech savvy, they have an exceedingly short attention span. Whether it’s a result of children’s television programming, access to personal computers, or personal gaming, many people today will exert more energy on activities that keep them engaged and provide incremental rewards. This is where gamification comes into play. Gamification refers to the attribution of game qualities to non-game contexts. Gamification can be used in Human Resources to encourage people to participate in a number of activities from recruitment to employee satisfaction surveys.

The most commonly applied aspects of gaming in the realm of HR are in the design of the “game” and the inclusion of levels. Design elements that would be applied when gamifying a process would include requiring people to do an interactive task, as opposed to simply receiving or providing information. For a recruiting example, a coffee shop chain may provide a game which requires players to fill complicated coffee orders, wherein the player must guess which ingredients should be included. In this same example, players might be allowed to move on to higher, faster paced levels only after completing a certain number of perfect orders in a row. This very simple game concept serves as a recruitment tool as it allows candidates to self-select into the process based on their existing knowledge of coffee, and also provides the hiring company a method to screen candidates for their knowledge of the core business without spending additional time interviewing or testing each job applicant.

Do not be mistaken; gamification isn’t only applicable to pre-hire processes. It also has a wide range of applications in organizational development, as almost any process that requires employee participation can be gamified - as long as the concepts of design and progression are applied in an enticing and effective manner. Gamification can be used to elicit employee involvement in initiatives such as employee recognition programs. A simple game can be devised to provide simple rewards, be they “in-game” rewards such as listings on a leaderboard, or tangible ones, such as gift cards. Games can be as simple as distributing points to colleagues, along with a brief explanation as to why they are being recognized. In such a game, rewards can be provided to both the rewarded employee, in addition to the “rewarder”, providing management with additional information on the performance of their staff, as well as boosting moral.

The goal of gamification is to entice people’s attention to whatever an organization views as important, and then to have these people participate in whatever task is required. Whether it’s locating and identifying potential talent, or getting employee feedback, gamification can be applied to make tasks, which are generally considered boring (such as reading about a company), more entertaining (like playing a game in order to learn about the organization).

But not all gamification is created equal, just like not all games have the rabid following we’re seeing with Pokémon Go! In order to properly apply gamification, organizations must have a user-friendly interface and game design, as well as a game flow that provides them with the information required. By working with game developers as well as HR professionals, organizations can create tools which are mutually beneficial.

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