Chances are your next job won’t involve catching Pokemon, but it might include gaming. Why? Because gamification (when applied effectively) has been shown to produce tremendous benefits in non-gaming industries. Xerox uses games to improve employee training, Khan Academy includes games in their curriculum, and game players are solving a decade-long mystery of AIDS-enzymes.
So how does Gamification lead to better results?
First, people love playing games. If the Pokemon GO craze is not proof enough, the widespread availability of games should be; whether on your phone, on your computer, or on TV, games of all kinds are readily available . Today, even your technologically outdated, VCR-owning Uncle is a gamer. The Dutch historian and anthropologist Johan Huizinga, founder of the field of cultural history, went as far as calling our species “homo ludens” - “the playing man”.
Additionally, games are especially popular with millennials. Millennials are the largest share of the American workforce, and game solutions offer a way to engage the majority proportion of the American working population in a way like never before. Finally, games are a powerful tool for studying human behavior. Rather than asking someone what they did, you can observe and measure their behavior. This provides more accurate and reliable data.
The benefits of gaming apply directly to the hiring process in three key areas: recruiting efficiency, workforce diversity, and employee retention.
Recruiting Efficiency The average job opening attracts over 250 applicants, and only a fraction of them are given an interview. Companies widely rely on the resume to make this decision - something widely disliked by both candidates and recruiters, alike. Unfortunately, those resumes seldom provide information that accurately predicts success at a company, but that’s a topic for another post.
Instead of relying on resumes, recruiters can rely on gameplay data. When games avoid elaborate design and stimuli, you can directly measure specific human behaviors. You can also compare those behaviors across candidates. pymetrics uses games based directly on neuroscience literature to measure a wide range of inherent traits, such as an applicant’s ability to understand emotions and facets of their attention and memory. In one case, we found that using these games led to a 4x improvement in recruiting efficiency for a global financial services firm.
Workforce Diversity Men outnumber women in many fields, despite an abundance of objectively qualified women. Countless studies have revealed that hiring processes are still biased, but don’t take our word for it. This bias is well-documented when women are being hired for STEM careers and when women are raising funding from VC firms. For minorities, we see a similar issue; for example, studies have shown that resumes with traditionally African-American names are less likely to be called for an interview than those with traditionally “white” names.
The effect of mitigating unconscious bias is profound. Symphony orchestras who adopted “blind auditions” increased the proportion of women in those orchestras from 5% to 35%.
Gamified assessments can serve as a blind audition by providing an unbiased data point for candidates. By anonymizing applicant demographic information and using statistical tools to remove residual bias from the algorithms, our final predictive model presents a gender and ethnically balanced set of candidates that is pre-screened to be a great fit for the role.
Employee Retention Since attrition can cost up to 2x the salary of an employee, retention becomes incredibly important. As Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin & Associates, argues, the economic value of an employee appreciates over time. But how can companies use games to increase retention? Repurpose the same gameplay solution that is used for hiring to help employees find a more suitable role within the same company. Companies can reduce knowledge and cultural loss by using a gaming system to help employees move around within their firm.
Looking Ahead Unfortunately, 30-50% of recruiting efforts fail. That means the job offer is not accepted or the person resigns within the first year. This is not a consequence of deficient human capital; it is the consequence of using poor data for important decision-making processes. We can change this by using the right game-based assessments in recruiting and hiring. Gamification can increase engagement, get an objective read on behavior, and provide a platform for ‘blind auditions’.
It’s time for recruiters to take a page from Pokemon GO and utilize the benefits of gaming to transform HR.