“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.”
(Alan W. Watts)
Work and play find new synergies.
Gamification of learning associated with HR Management describes the adoption of elements and principles borrowed from games and game design within contexts which differ from those traditionally known. When applied to the HR world, such elements and principles are considered as tools capable of supporting company processes.
“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves and more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play” (Charles E. Schaefer)
Being engrossed in something, being enchanted: this refers to the state of concentration resulting from playing games. The bewilderness caused by a situation that is both enjoyable and challenging at the same time, causes the level of attention in the individual who is both involved in and emotionally engrossed by the game context to increase. This allows the individual to be guided along new paths, so as to reach his/her target.
What advantage could a similar state of concentration bring to on-the-job learning processes?
Brian Sutton-Smith has no doubts: “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression. To play is to act out and be wilful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one’s prospects.” “Play is a subset of voluntary behaviour involving a selective mechanism which reverses the usual contingencies of power so as to permit the subject a controllable and dialectical simulation of the moderately un-mastered arousals and regulations of everyday life, in a way that is alternatively vivifying and euphoric.”
There are several advantages of introducing game principles into business contexts and they transversally map all the areas of competence in the management of company processes. The Human Resource world is no different: gamification is capable of supporting recruitment and talent attraction, the induction of new employees as well as the engagement of senior members of staff, the review of performances and on-the-job training. Each interaction with personnel can take on deeper forms of involvement, improve training processes, support selection procedures, involve employees by giving them challenges, targets, victories and prizes. Experts maintain that the improvement of performance and company ROI are guaranteed. The experimental and simulative dimension make it possible to get straight to the heart of the problems and company challenges before these occur, guaranteeing experiential learning paths, at the basis of the pedagogy of education (Jerome Seymour Bruner).
Here is some quantitative data taken from the M2 Research report:
“• The size of the gamification market, currently estimated at around $100 million, will grow to more than $2.8 billion by 2016.
• The enterprise represents the largest vertical segment of the gamification market, accounting for nearly a quarter of the market.
• Top Gamification vendors are projecting 197% growth in 2012, up from 155% in 2011.
• Gamification vendors report that 47% of client implementations revolve around user engagement, with brand loyalty accounting for 22% and brand awareness 15% of implementations.
• Vendors also report that more and more clients are renewing subscriptions and are looking to add more features focused on motivation and training of employees.”
In 2011, JWT Intelligence, confirmed these trends.
Gamification principles, now increasingly popular within HR sector, have been adopted first of all within the marketing sector with the aim of attracting consumers. The term “gamification”, coined by Nick Pelling (programmer) has, by now, become fully entitled to be used also within heterogeneous sectors. Gareth Jones (Partner & Head of Technology at the Talent Management Consultancy The Chemistry Group) tells of how the first concept of gamification referred to the insertion of game software within other systems, so that the employees could acquire points, badges and prizes for having reached certain targets. The software would have encouraged individuals to complete a particular task, increasing the degree of competitiveness among the team members and improving their performance.
“The value in gamification is not in creating games, but in taking game mechanics and blending them into workplace processes to create stickiness” (Gareth Jones)
However, there are barriers: according to the report entitled “Executive Summary Big Game Hunters, Why HR Directors are Missing the Target, di Gary Browning, CEO at Penna Plc” more than 1/3 of the 100 HR Directors interviewed have affirmed that the concept of gamification was certainly interesting, but difficult to put into practice. How could it be used at best? Could gaming actually bring about return on investments (ROI)? Are the implementation costs sustainable?
Among the questions submitted to the target participants, particular attention was paid to the understanding of the gamification concept, to the perception of barriers during implementation, to the reasons for acquisition/non-acquisition and to the potential uses of gamification within their own organisation.
• 52% declared that they were interested.
• However, 44% replied that, when taking into consideration their own organisation, they wouldn’t know how to use the tools (36% due to the company culture, 27% due to cost constraints).
Despite the fact that the HR Directors perceive great barriers in helping their employees in the training processes and in selecting the best talents, often they are not able to consider gamification as a useful tool to overcome such obstacles.
According to Gartner’s parable, the stage of innovation started some time ago. However, many HR Executives are still on stand-by. Take a look at the example of colleagues and competitors who prove the positive impact of game tools who state that for them, these would represent quality assurance.
“Gamification doesn’t have to involve a large investment either, as we know that gaming elements are present in our everyday lives which we can apply to the workplace. Once set up, it can continue to run with minimal impact on time – helping to on-board new starters for example. The beauty of technology being that it can be tweaked over time, ensuring that it remains up-to-date and relevant. As we see gamification gradually taking off with organisations, stronger business cases for its development can be made as more and more ROI figures come to light.” (Gary Browning)
Gartner estimates that in 5/10 years’ time, gamification support software will be a widely recognised tool within the HR field.
Here are some examples:
• Waitrose has developed an innovative e-learning game regarding the laws relating to the sale of tobacco, alcohol and other products subject to restrictions. After having been implemented on over 50,000 users (staff, partners…) the module is now part of a broader training project in order to ensure that corporate compliances and best practices are respected. “Games are a powerful tool for teaching decision making skills in the workplace” (Louise Pasterfield)
• In 2011, Nike+ has witnessed a 40% increase in the number of members enrolled, with a 30% increase in company revenue in the running category
Gamification fully falls within the category of agile learning forms, capable of supporting on-the-job training.
Together provides useful tools to fulfil the training needs of Enterprise Companies and Corporate Universities.
“Gamification provides a real opportunity for individuals to continue with their personal career development in their own time and in a way that doesn’t feel too laborious. Rather than taking a training day out of the office, gamification means that individuals can top up their learning as and when they want to engage in gaming. For example, setting a management question and scenario each day will encourage users to log in and challenge themselves to learn about how to manage certain workplace situations. This has the added benefit of employees taking control of their own career and development, where they previously may have relied on over stretched management to provide all the answers.” (Bev White, MD of Penna)
“There is a level of resistance to taking gamification further in eLearning modules because it’s seen as frivolous and not sufficiently serious. There has until fairly recently been an issue about the cost of developing eLearning that employs gamification but that barrier is diminishing.” (Richard Billingham, Director of Human Resources at Bristol City Council)
What do you think about that? Do you believe that also adults can play within the workplace?