Gamification continues to be a trending topic in the HR industry.
Already a multi-billion dollar industry today, research firm MarketsandMarkets predicts the global market will be worth US$11 billion by 2020.
Most industry practitioners agree that in this era of digital disruption and a younger workforce, innovative talent management solutions like game-based and simulated learning platforms can really add value to organisations by appealing to people’s competitive and result-oriented natures.
Studies show that millennials now form the largest part of the global labour force.
An independent survey from Pew Research Centre showed that the number of millennials in the American workforce surpassed that of Generation X in 2015, becoming the dominant generation.
In Singapore, millennials are also the majority generation in the workforce, according to estimates from HR firm Adecco. This is set to increase further, with Generation Y workers on course to make up 75% of the Singapore labour market in the next 10 years.
Experts agree that an unconventional approach is needed when it comes to managing these millennial employees, because they are also the most disengaged demographic in the national workforce.
A Gallup study in 2015 showed that 32% of millennials, or Generation Y workers, said they were disengaged at work, as compared to Generation X, where only 28% shared that they were disengaged.
“As the influx of young, ambitious employees join the workforce across Asia-Pacific, it is critical for companies to recognise that their talent management practices and policies will need to evolve,” said Adaire Fox-Martin, President of SAP Asia-Pacific.
“Companies will be better equipped to invest resources in the right people and programmes that will drive retention and help meet business objectives. As millennials shape the future of work, every company must transform itself as an employer in order to compete for talent,” she adds.
See: Talent Management Strategies for SMEs
Innovation through gamification
At the recent HR Summit, Susan Chen, Chief HR Director of Indonesian healthcare provider Viva Generik, reiterated how important it was that HR departments become “innovation-enablers” to bridge the gap between technologically-savvy employees and their often less sophisticated employers.
“Technology is letting people do things they could not do before. But innovation is not just about technology, it’s about solving business problems. Gamification does that,” said Chen.
It is for this reason that game-based training continues to be relevant today, and is sometimes even unavoidable in a contemporary development programme.
While the use of these techniques is not a new concept, they are now being used to target a wider range of organisational objectives, including HR goals like talent attraction, and employee learning and development.
Kulwant Singh, CEO of Knolskape Asia-Pacific, a gamification and simulation software developer focused on talent transformation, says gamification tools are steadily gaining traction among HR practitioners.
“Rather than using the word ‘hot’ (to describe the trend), it’s better to say that the implication of gamification in learning is gaining much more attraction now,” shares Singh.
“But it is probably new for HR when you apply these concepts and elements into learning,” he adds.
Gamification, according to Singh, is “the concept of applying badges, rewards, or points and creating a competitive environment to increase engagement”.
“Anyone who is in that environment will enjoy competing and try to go up to different levels,” Singh elaborates.
He believes gamified employee programmes are more appealing to millennial workers in particular because they often have lower attention spans and enjoy seeing immediate results.
He says his own children, as an example, “want to move very fast and have very little patience”.
Furthermore, the closeness of these simulations to real world situations makes it easy for participants to relate to the content.
“The storylines that they create in the simulations are very realistic, as all the actions and behaviours are based on scenarios that occur at the workplace,” says Singh.
This growing use of game applications to ensure millennial workers stay engaged and interested is especially evident in the expected global revenue growth rates of gamified learning products.
Innovation is indeed the name of the game at DBS Bank Singapore. The company’s HR strategy has been based around its corporate values of being: purpose-driven, relationship-led, innovative, decisive, and “everything fun”.
One way the bank embraces these values is by employing game-based learning programmes.
“Our strategy is to reimagine the HR function to support DBS’ goal of creating ‘joyful’ banking experiences,” says James Loo, Executive Director, Group HR, DBS Bank.
“Looking at the journey of job candidates and employees, we asked ourselves how we could utilise digital technology to transform their experiences, especially for millennials who form the largest proportion of our workforce.”
He adds that DBS implements gamification by applying data analytics and neuroscience to a social platform, of which the end-result is an online recruitment game it calls “Joyful Journey”.
Loo says the game is designed to identify talent who have the characteristics of high performers and who are likely to embrace DBS’ corporate values.
“We were looking for solutions that engage candidates and employees in a fun and differentiated, yet meaningful way,” Loo explains. “With ‘Joyful Journey’, we wanted to create a great recruitment experience as top graduates are looking for more than just a place of work.”
“Joyful Journey” takes job candidates through a series of personality tests and scenario-based questions, including a behavioural quiz. Upon completing the quest, candidates can use the points collected to redeem rewards, such as an invitation to a networking session with the DBS Singapore Country Head.
More than 18,000 applicants across the region have played the game, and it has proven to be beneficial for both the bank and the candidates.
“So far, anecdotal feedback from employees and candidates has been very encouraging. We have found that candidates who complete the game are better prepared for interviews, and for work in the company,” says Loo.
“Joyful Journey” has been extremely valuable for DBS recruitment managers.
“It has helped us to identify the right talent faster, as we receive an average of 80,000 résumés each year,” he explains. “Actions such as repeat visits and plays indicate commitment, competitiveness and aptitude – characteristics we look out for. Often, you cannot uncover these qualities from just doing interviews and reading résumés.”
A TalentLMS survey on the effects of gamification supports Loo’s positive assessment of game-based talent programmes.
The study revealed that 79% of its respondents said that they would be more motivated and productive if their learning environment was built more like a game.
Additionally, 89% of participants said that a points system would boost their engagement levels, while 62% stated that they would be more motivated to learn if non-static leaderboards were introduced, and if they were given the opportunity to compete with colleagues.
The study also showed that these programmes have a positive impact on employees’ productivity. Forteen percent of respondents scored higher in skills-based knowledge assessments, 11% performed better in factual knowledge tests, and nine percent noted an increase in information retention.
Knolskape’s Singh seconds these results, using the word “sticky” to describe the effectiveness of simulations on employees.
“It is really funny when clients come back and tell us the stories in the programmes because of the stickiness of the simulation. If you repeat a simulation two or three times, it becomes stickier,” he shares.
“Now what that means to the HR industry is that it actually increases the retention rates, as compared to a one-day traditional classroom workshop with lots of PowerPoint slides and activities.”
Loo concurs, saying that games do help to make the overall training experience more fun and memorable for employees, which in turn aids their retention of information.
In 2015, DBS held an open-house event in conjunction with the launch of DBS Academy, where employees got to learn about the digital resources available to them. The event was gamified through the introduction of a mobile app called “Power Your Future @ DBS”, which integrated learning with play – staff collected points to redeem prizes.
“The app recorded over 800 unique accounts in Singapore with up to 18,000 challenges completed over the two-day open-house. Employees gave positive feedback about our showcase and how learning was fun throughout the event,” he says.
Simulated applications, Singh says, also allow for a more inclusive training experience. For example, only one storyline or scenario is given to participants, unlike in a traditional classroom setting, where each person might have a different story for the given task.
“With this, we create one story and everyone has to work in that simulated environment. It’s a common story, hence when you do debriefs and reflections, it is regarding the same story,” describes Singh.
He adds that another benefit of the simulated platform is that it optimises and condenses content into a half-day workshop, unlike a traditional workshop which typically lasts a whole day.
“Our fundamental philosophy here is that you don’t create leaders by asking them to look at 80 to 100 PowerPoint slides in a day, listening to only one facilitator and having lots of discussions through role plays and playing some activities to keep them engaged,” shares Singh.
Singh says the success of gamification for businesses is further highlighted by that fact that Knolskape has a 97% client retention rate. The gamification software developer counts Microsoft, Accenture, Ernst & Young, Insead, Kellogg School of Management and Cisco among its portfolio of clients.
“While we thought millennials would be the ones who hooked on, we were really surprised to find that even the mid and senior level employees took on the gamified simulations tremendously well,” Singh adds.
The article first appeared on HRM Asia.
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