Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Games HR is Playing

Let’s face it. The HR department isn’t typically filled with the go-to techies in your office. Usually HR lags more than a bit behind the curve on technology adoption – primarily because HR isn’t usually a profit center so acquiring new technology can be an uphill battle from the get-go. But there’s some really, really cool stuff happening in HR tech.  My favorite is gamification.

Gamification is starting to pop up everywhere in HR, and that should be no surprise. With everyone from my 6-year-old to his grandma playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush, new and established companies are finding gaming as a way to transfer detailed information to a wide variety of employees. By using a game, companies can engage employees and potential applicants in something fun and educational. Just like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (and its catchy theme song by Rockapella) taught me geography.

How about using a game like Farmville to attract your next Restaurant Manager? Marriott Hotels did just that.  By placing a game on their Facebook careers page permitting potential applicants to test their restaurant managing skills – complete with purchasing ovens, hiring chefs, and selecting produce – Marriott engaged thousands of potential applicants before they even submitted an application. Plus, applicants could self-evaluate whether they’d even be good at the job. (I’m awful and should not apply.) 

But gamification isn’t just coming from big companies, entrepreneurs are developing games too. Imagine training folks on ever-changing and complex concepts using a video game. Cool, right? That is exactly what VitalSims is doing – using video game simulations to teach doctors and nurses how to treat the chronic disease of diabetes. Because diabetes treatments are evolving, training care givers can be tricky. With gaming, the sometimes tedious task of reading scientific journals can be supplemented with gaming simulations providing richer and more meaningful training. By partnering with HealthPartners and the University of Minnesota, VitalSims has developed their gaming simulations to be as up-to-date as possible so patients receive the best possible care.

If you think gamification will only work on your young, male employees, think again. Video gamers are much different than you think. The demographics are astounding: 45% of gamers are female and 68% of gamers are over 18. In fact, almost twice as many females play than teenaged boys. Female gamers are not mythical creatures!  While not everyone may be tracking down drug dealers in Grand Theft Auto V, you may hear your HR department advocating for some gaming soon.

A Post by Kate Bischoff, Guest Blogger

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