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HR Trends. No.4: Gamification

While spending some time at HR conferences and listening to presentations about recruitment trends (including my own :-D) it was obvious that gamification is another major driver everyone is looking into. If you look for best practice examples in the market, most of them are built for recruitment. And they are games (not necessarily synonymously for ‘gamified’), e.g My Marriott Hotel:

Great integration of learning about possible job contents as well as potential assessment. I also like fliplife, as it offers corporations the chance to present themselves in a ‘relaxed’ third party environment.

The use of games for employer branding and recruitment seems logical, considering the developments in demography and technology. And it is also the most intentional one in the HR toolbox. But there should be more applications, corporate learning might be next to be gamified.

But let’s have a look into what gamification is at all to better understand where it will add value.

I talked to Roman Rackwitz, founder and CEO of engaginglab – I would also call him my personal gamification guru… Because I am lazy by nature I asked Roman to introduce engaginglab himself: “Engaginglab enriches ‘user behavior’ by implementing fun into activites. How? By using what is build into our DNA –> ‘Play’. Play is nature’s learning engine and so it touches our innerst habits. Engaginglab achieves that by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by combining behavior psychology with game-design-thinking. We are reverse-engineering what makes games effective and graft it into a business environment.” Well, he is clearly not a friend of binary answers 🙂 Need more proof of that? Enjoy his answers below:

1. We know corporate games like L’Oréal’s Reveal or MyMarriott. Is that what gamification looks like?

Let’s look at the official definition of gamification: “…the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts.” So, from this point of view it is gamification because they use these games for a non-game-context, as to say: Recruitment.

2. How would you define gamification?

Taking your first question into consideration I distinguish between two conditions:
If you take a problem related to real life and put it into a classic game like MyMarriott or Reveal, than I call it “serious game”. And the more social the problem, the more related to a huge community or even society, the more serious it is.

On the other side, if you want to get people engaged in real life activities and you think about games as a role model – because games can really be engaging, right? – than you use game design thinking and put game elements at these real life activities. It is the other way round than serious games. And in my opinion this is gamification.

If gamification is done well you never think about playing a game. Yes, you feel challenged, engaged, focused and involved into your activity the same way you feel it when playing a game. But you would never characterize it as one.

3. Most people think of gamification in recruiting. Where else could gamification be applied in an HR context?

For HR I believe that gamification can be applied for the whole employee-life cycle.

  • Attraction: For example by using gamified crowdsourcing activities, open-source projects or – like mentioned above – even serious games to increase the brand awareness and so also its attractivity as an interesting potential employer.
  • Recruitment: For example by using game-elements to get people to solve different problems and challenges that help the HR-department to find the right people for the right job.
  • Expectancy: For example, by using a game-like environment like simulations that let new employees learn the company’s processes without the risk of failure. At the same time the employer could use these simulations to get some new approaches to solve an old problem.
  • Development/Education: For example by using game-elements like clear goals, rules, missions and challenges that help old and new employees to find their own ‘path to mastery’. This way people know better what is being expected from them , what are possible ways to do so and where to start.
  • Knowledgemanagement/Collaboration: For example by using (almost) real-time feedback as we know it from board- and onlinegames to provide fast and individual guidance through complex and abstract work processes. Such a ‘feedback-loop’ combined with goals, rules, missions and challenges enhances people to collaborate and to share knowledge in order to achieve a common goal.

Looking at gamification for the HR-Department from a meta level experienced that it supports also to create a transformational leadership inside a company rather than a transactional leadership. We still have to wait for longterm results (Gamification is a young discipline) but this already indicates a more effective way to hire the right people, to benefit employee satisfaction and to decrease workforce fluctuation.

4. What would you call best practices?

Great examples for different sectors are:

  • Serious games: In 2011, players of Foldit helped to decipher the crystal structure of an AIDS-causing monkey virus. While the puzzle was available to play for a period of three weeks, players produced an accurate 3D model of the enzyme in just ten days. The problem of how to configure the structure of the enzyme had stumped scientists for 15 years.
  • Gamification in CRM: Nitro for salesforce. It engages and motivates sales teams by adding challenges, points, levels, status, achievements, and rewards.
  • Gamification in Education: Duolingo  & Codecadamy
  • Gamification in Finance: Playmoolah (for kids), Payoff , SaveUp, Mint
  • Gamification in  Health: Contrex, Piano stairs, Sex for health, HealthMonth, S2H
  • Gamification in Innovation: Starbucks, Innocentive 
  • Gamification in Production: Siemens (simulation)
  • Marketing&Branding: SAP
  • Gamification in Projectmanagement: Propstoyou , RedCritter

5. Which cool stuff will we see in 2013?

Gamifcation needs the possibility to interact with its users to provide real-time data & feedback within the activities. The development of new technologies like ‘augmented reality’ and gadgets will enhance agencies and providers to create more intuitive and individual programs. Tools like Google glasses will create huge opportunities for gamification companies to develop new applications. This video “Sight” shows its possibilities. Even if the movie focuses rather on the risks of bad gamification than its positive potentials, it is a good insight of what could be possible in the future.

I think that in 2013 we will have an increased awareness and some great examples of how to build processes that take human behavior more into consideration. The number of companies implementing gamified processes in Europe will double and by 2015 more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.

6. Some businesses think that gamification means to let their employees play games at work. What do you tell them?

Unfortunately the term gamification is a little bit misleading but now we have to stick to it. Gamification is not about creating games but about reverse-engineering what makes games so effective and graft it into a business environment. Games are awesome at creating engagement, focus, and involvement for its users. While playing a game we are more concentrated, open to changes, more open to solve problems, and to tackle challenges. We are more collaborative, goal orientated, less risk-averse and it is not demotivating if we fail. Imagine you would have a workforce like this within your company.
So, gamification uses game-design-thinking combined with the upcoming science of behavior- and motivational psychology to re-design work processes to engage employees in a deeper way.

7. Why is Gamification especially for HR such a ‘hot’ subject?

The last century proved that services and products that are implementing social aspects are often better prepared than those without. And it is obvious, right? We are social and so products/services should adopt this fact to become more intuitive for us. And of course we use new technologies to make this happen. Od do you say: “Hey, we humans should adjust ourselves to technology.”? No. It doesn’t make sense this way.

And I think that we are experiencing something similar with Gamification and HR. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we thought about how to make everything more efficient. How to make everything faster and bigger or even smaller. It was a question about technology. A question about equipment and units. It was about technical-design and no one thought about the consequences for the employees. They just had to get comfortable with that or leave.

But time changed and now and globalisation and other developments created an unbelievable demand for tasks that depend totally just on human performance. Research, creativity, innovation, complex problem solving, and so on. It changed from a question about pure technology to a question about human-centred-activities. So, after decades of technical improvements we are looking for ways how we can create an environment that enhances us humans. And it makes sense to look at Evolution and how it manged to get us this far. And I think that one of its secret was the possibility to let us perform on a higher level of engagement while playing around. But of course we can’t say: “Ok, let’s play some games at work.” And here starts the idea behind Gamification: “Reverse-engineering what makes games effective and graft it into a business environment.”

HR (at its best) is the development department for the most valuable asset of a company, and Gamification their instrument for fine tuning.

So way to go for HR. Let the games begin!


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HR Trends. No.3: ‘Virtual Storytelling’

Recently I saw some informative and nonetheless not-boring videos about HR topics. Why haven’t they been boring? Well, they integrated some active drawing while telling the story. Here is an example by The Talent Project:

There are a lot more out there, so it seems like another trend 🙂 Well, not only because of the growing number of examples; changing ways of learning and communicating ask for more entertaining tools. And storytelling has always been one of the most powerful tools of communication. By the nature of what it looks like, let’s call it ‘virtual storytelling’. Saatkorn recently blogged about it too (German!).

And, co-incident had it, that I recently met someone who is actively working on adding value to HR by using virtual storytelling. So let’s hear what Susanne Ambros, has to say about it:

HR Factory are a medium-size service provider with 80 people of staff and affiliations in several European locations (actually we worked with them during my time at Microsoft). The company is focused on services of Business Process Outsourcing. With over 10 years of experience in the field, HR factory provides a range of services from recruitment administration to consulting and tailored solutions for personnel development and HR management.

susanne.ambros AT

1. Could you describe the basic idea of Virtual Storytelling (VS) and Scribicon?

People have always been captivated by good stories and storytelling unites people regardless of their age or cultural background. A story can be told through words or pictures or combining both. An engaging story nurtures the imagination and is easily remembered. We have taken the idea of storytelling and converted it into a smarter, more modern format. Virtual storytelling combines the essence of storytelling with modern media, using animated video clips. Once created, the story is recorded and can be revisited whenever and wherever desired without having to worry that some parts may have been altered or lost by word of mouth. We have created Scribicon to capture the idea of virtual storytelling and make it accessible to everyone who wants to communicate their message effectively. Scribicon not only allows you to simultaneously see and hear the story being told, it brings you closer, as you watch the tale unfold with each stroke of the pen. It is a highly captivating and, therefore, memorable process, which leads to better retention of the information conveyed.

2. Why do you think that there is a need for these kinds of visualisation?

Much of the information that is given out on a daily basis, never actually gets read because people simply do not have the time or energy to do so. Getting one’s message across is the responsibility of the message owner. It would be unwise to expect the audience to make an effort to find and understand a message that you want to communicate. It is in the interest of the communicator to make his message as attractive as possible to get the attention and results desired.
With VS, video, audio, text and animation are combined and this combination catches the attention of people with different dominant sensory channels.

3. What would you say are the main advantages of VS in comparison to ‘old fashioned’ communication tools?

Old fashioned communication tools are often boring and are unable to hold the interest of audiences. Plain text is commonly used to convey a message in cases where direct interaction between individuals is not possible. There can be a number of downsides to this sort of communication. For an example it may not be possible to squeeze the message into a sentence or two that would most likely catch the audience’s attention. Or it can also leave too much space for interpretation and we cannot be sure that our message got across the way it was intended to. A long text may seem boring and people may not have the time or energy to read through it. Also, long texts leave too much room for interpretation, so we can’t be sure that the reader picked out the message that was intended. It is of course possible to animate text in online presentations, the downside here, however, is that it is still text, and it may be difficult for the reader/viewer to put it into a right context.
A speech is often more attractive than a written text. It is complimented with changes in intonation, pace and timbre. However, it lacks a visual anchor that is often needed for the audience to memorize the information and relate it to their own knowledge and experiences.
In case of a video the emphasis is on visual perception channels and there is a risk that the message gets lost in the large amount of visual action.
The main advantages of video scribing, therefore, are an optimal level of complexity and a combination of different communication channels (i.e. audio, video and text). As important as the technical implementation of a VS clip is the story behind it. The information is placed into a context and different bits are connected to one another. This form of storytelling enables a better understanding of the information received and leaves less space for misinterpretation.

4. Could you give some examples of this?

An employee receives an email with written text only or it has a presentation attached to it. The employee has to read and click through pages, which is time consuming, not very engaging or entertaining and therefore most likely the core message will be lost or, in the worst case, not even read at all.
If the employee receives an email with a link to a VS clip, they click on it and they can immediately watch and enjoy the message that is being told. It is more likely, they will view the clip again and the information or message brought via VS is more memorable.

5. How elaborate is VS for the client?

VS is very flexible and adaptable. Depending on the nature and volume of information that the client wishes to communicate, it is possible to create a VS clip to exactly match the client’s needs. It is possible to make short influential clips to communicate one specific and clear message. However, it is also possible to successfully convert a complex strategy overview into a VS clip.
The VS clip format is very versatile. In style, it is possible to opt for anything from simple monochrome line-art, up to vibrant, full-colour images. Animation options range from a sequence of stills, to a full animation that looks like a small cartoon. We can add music and a voice-over, using the ideal speaker to suit the mood of the clip.

6. Where do you think is the biggest future potential of VS?

VS can be used everywhere that information, knowledge or ideas need to be communicated. The possibilities are endless – VS can be used to further illustrate any kind of message. Using Scribicon can make the client stand out and really attract attention. So it can be used for marketing purposes, to communicate memos or company policies, to liven up learning material or any other purpose you can think of. Video is the fastest growing medium on the Internet (YouTube is now ranked 4th in the world in terms of traffic and it is the second largest search engine on the web) so the potential of VS is virtually limitless.
While advertising and marketing are already very diversely managed and the limit there is only one’s creativity, we see a lot of potential in learning and knowledge management. Online and distance education has become incredibly popular. We also see a vast potential in mobile learning. VS can be built into online and interactive learning courses and can be combined with other types of media to refresh or test one’s knowledge. The learner can visit and revisit the short VS clips when and where he finds suitable either on his computer, tablet or mobile device. We would encourage teachers and lecturers to explore the possibilities of mobile learning and VS to enhance their training programmes and offer their students a more enjoyable way to learn.

7. Do you know some examples of where VS has been successfully used for employer branding or talent acquisition?

VS has already been taken advantage of by many different clients for various purposes. In several cases VS has been used for internal company communication, marketing and branding.
Our own company strategy and vision for the next period was communicated via Scribicon and up until now we have recorded 480 views of the clips, whereas we ‘only’ have 80 employees in our company. We usually would have had a few company meetings where the new strategy would have been communicated and all of the downsides of a usual presentation or speech would have applied. Instead we now have people revisiting the clips again and again. The strategy was published in Q1 this year, but if you ask any of our colleagues now at any point of time what are we here for and what we aim for, you don’t get a blank gaze, but an actual answer. The message has stuck!


Yelp me!

Please find an English interview below. If you cannot read the German part, don’t worry: Yelp is new in the German market and you won’t find anything spectacular for an international audience there 🙂

Nachdem vor einigen Wochen Pinterest im deutschen Employer Branding Markt entdeckt wurde, versuche ich mal bei der nächsten Sau, die durch’s Dorf getrieben wird, auf dem Rüssel zu sitzen: Yelp

Zugegeben, im Vergleich zu Pinterest wird Yelp erstmal eher ein Ferkel denn eine Sau sein, zum einen weil es mit Qype bereits einen ähnlichen Dienst gibt, der vor allem in Mitteleuropa erfolgreich ist – also quasi das LinkedIn vs Xing der Bewertungsportale; zum anderen, weil bisher noch keine wirklich durchschlagende Idee exisitiert, wie diese Portale effektiv fuer Employer Branding genutzt werden können.

Im Gegensatz zu kununu, dass sich mit langem Atem erfolgreich am Markt etabliert hat, liegt der Focus bei diesen Portalen nicht primär auf arbeitgeber- sondern business-relevanten Themen. Ich bin mir aber sicher (und viele Daten deuten darauf hin), dass sich diese Trennung immer weiter aufheben wird. Wer möchte schon für jede ‘Special Interest’ (inkl. Jobs) ein eigenes Portal aufrufen? Die Herausforderung des Personalmarketing liegt eher in der mobilen Nutzung dieser Dienste.

Man informiert sich in der Regel nicht im Vorbeigehen aktiv über Arbeitgeber und Jobs, so dass der mobile Aspekt hier sicher ein Stück zurücktritt, aber andererseits bietet Yelp den vollen “Genuss” nur in Kombination von Website und App an. Und wer weiss, wie sich das Nutzungsverhalten diesbezüglich in Zukunft ändert. KLM hat hier im Produktbereich ein exzellentes Beispiel kreativer Nutzung geliefert: KLM Surprise und eine Meinung dazu.

Zurück zu Yelp: Viel Wert wird auf die Community und das aktive Management der Bewertungen gelegt (daher gibt es Yelp auch nur in Ländern, in denen eine entsprechend Yelp Infrastruktur besteht). Wie bei anderen Portalen auch, kann man sich Awards verdienen, Deals finden und hier ggf. in eine “Elite” (aka Power User) aufgenommen werden. Dieser “Elite”, aber auch anderen Nutzern, werden regelmäßig Yelp-Offline-Events angeboten.

Diese Events können beispielsweise eine Möglichkeit bieten, aktiv Employer Branding zu gestalten. Und die über die Nutzung der Yelp Community als Markenbotschafter lässt sich sicher auch nachdenken.

Hübsches Feature der App: das “Monocle”, die augmented reality Version von Yelp. Wenn auch viele Businesses noch in die deutsche Yelp Datenbank integriert werden müssen…

Ich hatte die Gelegenheit mir von Yelps Münchener Community Managerin, Vee, ein paar Fragen beantworten zu lassen:

The business model behind Yelp – how are you generating revenue?

Yelp offers local advertising for the highly reviewed businesses on Yelp. Also, from time to time you’ll see ads from brand advertisers who sponsor sections of the site. We currently only offer advertising for businesses in North America and the UK. This is broken down into two kinds of advertising:

  • Local advertising from local businesses that want to be featured on Yelp
  • Brand advertising, i.e. display and text ads on Yelp.

What is the unique selling proposition of Yelp for users and for businesses?

The Yelp Community and our unparalleled mission to connect people with great local businesses is what sets Yelp apart. Yelp has a very engaged Community worldwide that is comprised of passionate locals that want to share their experiences and give readers the inside scoop, street-by-street, city-by-city. They are on the ground exploring and talking about their experiences at local businesses. Yelp has always made a very strong commitment to the Community, hiring a Community Manager in each Yelp market (over 90 different markets worldwide now) to nurture
and engage with local people, ultimately to deliver on Yelp’s overarching mission: to connect people with great local businesses.

I am already checking in on Facebook and foursquare, sometimes check reviews on Qype,
why should I add Yelp, or even replace these services?

There are a lot of social networks out there and we believe they all serve their particular purpose:
Facebook for example is where people go to share information about their lives and see picture of babies and puppies. People come to Yelp to help them make an informed buying decision.

The check-in feature is not only a great fun way to keep track of where you are, where you have been and with and with whom, it offers credibility to the review content already on the site. For example, if you are reading a review that give a restaurant 5 stars and you see that person has checked-in 15 times, you can be pretty sure that this person really does like the business and goes there often, giving that extra level of credibility.

This is just one of the reasons that over 71 Million unique visitors come to Yelp each month (monthly average in Q1 2012) to decide where to spend their hard-earned money and free time.
Now, as an extension of our content-rich mobile apps, our Community can check-in, but also write tips/advice, upload photos and edit/update business info without having to switch over to another service.

How can businesses most effectively use Yelp?

Businesses can most effectively use Yelp by joining the conversation and being active with their Yelp page! How do they do this? The first step is to claim their business listing page on Yelp, which will gain them access to an entire suite of absolutely free business owner tools. Among other things, this will allow them to update their listing with the correct info, photos, web address, engage via messaging (public and private) with users that write a review of their business, check page stats, post check-in offers, and much more. Yelp has built an entire section of the website dedicated to business owners: Yelp For Business Owners.

Are there already examples of businesses that already yelp for branding or recruiting purposes?

Unfortunately, this isn’t something we’ve seen in particular…but surely, Yelp is a great platform to display one’s creativity, writing skills, and commitment and passion for their city as an avid “Yelper.” It’s an added way to contribute to the community, and build one’s personal brand as a local expert, urban explorer…or just someone that really knows a lot about restaurants, bars, shopping, the best places to take kids, or who to visit when you need a mechanic!

Schauen wir also mal, wie sich Yelp im Markt platziert – und ich bin sicher, das bald jemand einen kreativen Weg finden wird, Bewertungsportale für Employer Branding zu nutzen. Das Beispiel Pinterest hat vorgemacht, wie sich aus Ratlosigkeit zumindest aktive Nutzung entwickeln kann: “Dabei sein ist alles.” 🙂

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Optimizing Social Media along the Employee Lifecycle

Some days ago I came across an interesting post on – all wrapped-up in a simple graphic:  

I like the concept very much, but also started to think about how this would translate into the employee lifecycle (ELC). Frankly, after having this idea I googled first instead of wasting brainpower, but I couldn’t find anything similar related to the ELC. So as a first result from these thoughts I put together another simple graphic:

It’s still very conceptual and I don’t claim to have the one and only version of the ELC, but for a start and as a visualization of (my) professional common sense it works well.

Nonetheless this graphic is missing a proper conceptual background. I started thinking about how to structure the social media along the ELC based on certain criteria, e.g. internal or external recipients, what you can see in the middle circle. There would be a larger number of criteria though, which makes the whole too complex to aggregate in one simple graphic (maybe an infographic would work better). And even as a theoretical construct it will go beyond the scope of a blog post:

  • Spread: one to many, many to one, many to many, one to one
  • Content: individualized vs. generic
  • Content: user generated vs corporate
  • Content: details/Facts vs broader picture
  • Frequency: continuous, on demand
  • Purpose: motivation, education, administration, sourcing,…
  • Goal: information vs call-to-action
  • Recipients: internal vs. external

So, lots of work to do. I like to encourage everyone to contribute his/her thoughts or, be my guest, take this and develop it further. If someone already knows where to find an existing concept – this would save some brainpower…

Update: If you like to have a discussion about this (or any other topic) personally, I will be speaking about this at the Social Media @ HR Summit 2012 in Dublin. @carlssons will join there too.

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FINS Technology: Facebook To Launch Job Board

“Facebook is planning to launch its own job board later this summer, said people familiar with the matter. The job board will aggregate the job postings of third party providers, making them available for search by Facebook users.”

This does sound like just another job board without any “social” in the media.

But I would like to convey my best wishes to facebook. If anyone could finally build a successful job app/page ever on facebook, it’s them. Let’s observe the further development.

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eBay’s Social Recruitment Strategy

Just before the weekend, I found this interesting example of an integrated social media recruitment approach at eBay on Business 2 Community. The article is obviously not my piece of work, but I want to share it as it’s a nice example of what practices are out there in the market today.

It might be a bit of promotion for selectminds but hey, if they own some good technology why not appreciate it?

The ROI calculation seems some kind of theoretical/vague to me. But bulletproof ROI calculation is still the weakest part of all social media recruiting and branding concepts.

So enjoy, and have a great weekend 🙂

eBay Social Recruitment


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