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Recruiting and Talentmanagement – Gamification in HR

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Is gamification the next ‘big thing’ in human resources management or just another nice-sounding buzzword? Can the playful approach provide real value, or are they just superfluous bells and whistles? Does gamification provide completely new ways of interacting with employees? These are just a few questions that need to be clarified in our series “Gamification in HRM”.

Simplify → play → motivate!

But from the beginning: Gamification brings, as the name suggests, a playful approach to represent a complex issue for each user and to fuel the debate with just that fact. In terms of human resource management, this can happen in all sorts of disciplines. In recruitment marketing colourful quizzes attract new employees or sellers in B2B sales are motivated by interactive leaderboards.

And that’s what the gamification world is all about:

Motivating employees to work in a specific way and making it fun to accomplish these tasks. In recruiting, further aspects can be worked on, such as: Applicant profiling for example. HR professionals use a quiz to test whether the candidate fulfills the requirements for the position and what qualities he / she has in addition. After the answers of the candidate, a profile of the candidate with information about soft skills and general suitability is completed in the background.

Gamification can start here.

Gamification is often used in these disciplines [more about gamification in practice in the next part of our series]:

  • Motivation of employees for training and further education purposes
  • Make repetitive processes more appealing / attractive
  • Promote and spread corporate culture Improve talent management & acquisition.

Now, at first glance, this may seem foolhardy: games should deliver a better outcome, and that at the main corners and ends of HR? Why do HR decision makers rely on such ‘easygoing’ methods, in the serious, fast-paced world of work? Exactly because easygoing is usually much more fun than dry work according to regulations. Motivation finally comes from inside (or should it not?). Because money and other extrinsic incentives can never trump the intrinsic motivation. Finally, wages, bonuses or other benefits are given for doing something that you do not (necessarily) want to do. Tasks that are tackled because of intrinsic motivation are consistently fulfilled by conviction, which usually leads to better results for the employer.


If work and play can be combined in a symbiosis, this is called successful gamification. In fact, one encounters quite rarely on gamification in everyday work. So, what is the reason for the increased use in personnel management? Especially in recruiting and even more specifically in the recruitment process with the help of e-assessments, there is a weakness of gamification (as with most e-assessments): In the end, it can not be ascertained whether the candidate actually completes the online assessment himself. But companies must be able to ensure that the gamification approach is not abused. Otherwise, the complete screening mechanism of recruiting does not work anymore.

What about gamification in DACH and Europe?

In fact, in the study “Recruiting Trends 2016”, seven percent of jobseekers admitted that they had used third-party help in e-assessments. The fear of companies against the misuse of such tools seems real. This is another reason why the spread in recruiting has made little progress. Just 2.5% of the surveyed companies include playful aspects in their recruiting process, even though just under a third sees an instrument for better screening in gamification.

It also becomes difficult for games and fun when it comes to take drastic measures. A quiz may not be able to move a poorly performing employee. Sometimes ‘to drop a hint’ is more in the way than it helps. Just then personal conversations are preferable to an online game and can not be replaced by anything. Developer An Coppens, who also voices concern that no employee can (and should) be forced to play. Because “only those who play voluntarily are motivated”.

Have you ever come into contact with gamification or are you already using playful approaches in your human resources management? Let us know your comments.

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