Startups are on the rise, making entrepreneurship as fashionable as rock stardom. The best side of this development is the huge role startups are beginning to play in the job market. Once perceived as unstable, risky and low paying, modern startups are offering the best salaries and job conditions out there.
Because of that, it is not strange that newly-graduates seek their first job in the startup market, leaving big, traditional, companies as a second option or a last resort. The dynamic and work-hard-play-hard attitude is perceived as appealing among the youngest job-seekers. Thus, companies with a more traditional mindset will have to adapt to the market lest they run out of candidates for their openings.
On August 27th, we hosted Dr. Oscar García-Pañella at Startup Grind Barcelona to talk about gamification, and learned three ways gamification can help companies overcome hiring and retention before it's too late.
Gamification is, according to Dr. García-Pañella, making an experience evolve from miserable to memorable to make people voluntarily achieve their goals. Here's how it can help companies:
Connecting with Millennials
Call them millennials, digital natives, or Gen Yers, but they uniformly have a different concept of life and work balance. Because they belong to a different generation, we can't treat the same way we've treated 30 year industry loyalists.
Millennials are much more tech-savvy and are deeply familiar with gaming. They grew up playing or being around people who played video games, many first being exposed by their own parents. They've been hands-on with technology since the early stages of their childhood. The adoption of mobile phones in the middle of the 90s, video-game sets and now tablets have made millennial exceptionally savvy with technology.
Millennials are used to exploring virtual worlds through the Internet, whether in World of Warcraft or Minecraft; collect rewards and badges from gamified apps like Swarm or Fitocracy; and they know how to keep up with technology changes.
Thus, companies can use gamification in HR to attract them as early as in their selection processes. Career plans, company perks and other great traits of company culture can be explained through gamification, increasing talent retention and employee happiness.
Quoting a conference Dr. García-Pañella attended while his stay in the USA, he exemplified how gamification helps our learning process:
During our school days, we are forced to learn the periodic table. A hundred and fifty elements of very important stuff. After all, we're made of that stuff, and so is the Universe. However, because we are forced to learn it, we vomit it in the final exam and never get back to it unless we pursue Chemistry or Bio-Chemistry degrees. All in all, a very unpleasant experience.
On the other hand, take a look at the Pokémon game series. There are over 800 creatures there. Each one has its own evolutions, skills, attack moves and they can be mixed to create new species. Pokémon is way more complicated and complex than the periodic table, but we learn them all by heart by age seven.
Isn't it strange that by age fourteen a teacher must point a gun to our head to learn 150 elements? Obviously, we are doing something very wrong.
Engage through the Heart
Dr. García-Pañella added that gamification offers a way to connect with your employees through untraditional methods:
While in the traditional companies a more conservative and rational approach is taken, where they try to engage with us through the brain - salaries, big projects, and career plans - gamification does it differently - through the heart.
Gamification allows people to express themselves more freely, through a fictional character or their own accomplishments. This, when combined with a good plot, strong audiovisuals, and serious games, can empower self-expression for a more genuine communication.
As Dr. García-Pañella put it: "... when combined with cinema, we found that people engage deeper with our gamification projects. Cinema is a universal language, and everybody is alphabetized in cinema. Everybody speaks that language".
This way, employees can feel more attached to the company's mission if gamification is applied properly as an integral part of the HR strategy for employee self-realization.
"When we understand something through the heart, we do not forget it. We're in the so-called suspension of disbelief. We feel like floating in space, and time does not matter."
Revitalizing the Old School
If what we've been doing for years is falling apart and companies are losing their best employees regularly to risky ventures, we need to try something new.
Breaking the mold of traditional HR practices can lead to unexplored grounds. Cookiebox, where Dr. García-Pañella is a Partner, specialise in transmedia. They create complete gamified experiences using cinema, audio, storytelling, comics and video-games to innovate.
"Companies are desperate to try new stuff. Old methods do not work anymore, and that's where we come in" says Dr. García-Pañella, implying that a generational change is happening now.
Are you part of that change? How is gamification influencing your life? Let us know in the comments section below!