When Recruitment, On-boarding & Learning meets Gamification & Work-like Reality, exciting things happen

Written by Allan Cottell

Allan has worked in the Learning Industry for over 20 years. Working at Senior Management Level and Board Level before becoming an Associate Partner for Games for Business. Allan is passionate about increasing both candidate and employee engagement; whether to support organisations to attract the best new talent through interactive recruitment or implementing new areas of learning for existing employees. Allan believes that corporate organisations can do so much more to engage employees in ways that ensure their learning and development is interactive, fun and incorporates the very latest technologies. Allan’s approach is cutting edge and includes areas such as Gamification and Virtual Simulation, designed to give users a truly immersive experience. Allan is a ‘gamer’ at heart and often talks about how games can have a positive impact on performance if used in the right way. He believes that enjoyment is the key and organisations need to look at what actually motivates their workforce.

There are many reasons why Gamification & ‘Work-like’ Reality Simulation enhance Recruitment, Onboarding and Learning but I thought I’d highlight my top 3; which was difficult in itself:

  1. Increasing Brand Appeal – Top organisations want to attract top talent and know that providing an interactive and cutting-edge Recruitment and On-boarding platform engages potential candidates and generates the immediate ‘WOW’ Factor they are looking for.
  2. Eliminate the Boredom Associated With Recruitment & Learning – Let’s face it, the application process can be boring and time-consuming, add to this the amount of corporate learning I’ve sat through where I’ve drifted off into a world of my own……. you get the picture. Gamification and Work-like Reality Simulation personalises the process and makes it fun.
  3. Candidate Expectation – In our modern world candidates expect to be engaged and excited about their new company and their development opportunities. Leading organisations know candidates demand the latest technologies to be an integral part of their workplace environment.

At this stage, it’s important to highlight what I mean by Gamification for Recruitment and Learning; as it’s easily misunderstood. Simply including ‘game style’ questions to evaluate a candidate’s or employee’s understanding, or identifying which questions have been answered correctly is far from the goal many companies are trying to achieve. You must go beyond interactive candidate assessments.

Let’s take the first two out of my top 3 reasons; Increasing Brand Appeal & Eliminating Boredom. Whatever Work-like Reality Simulation & Gamification project you implement, it shouldn’t be a simple game based exercise to assess candidates’ responses or teach them new skills.

The virtual workplace environment should make your organisation stand out as a leading organisation in whichever sector you belong to. To do this, you need to incorporate high-quality visuals that are appealing and promote a place of work the candidate would be proud to represent. The candidate experience must be immersive, engaging and ultimately capture the employee’s imagination. For candidates, it should showcase what it could be like if they were lucky enough to be successful in their application.

Let’s start with Recruitment and Onboarding

It’s no surprise to most of us that there are issues with the more traditional recruitment methods and in many cases the interview process itself. I recently saw a LinkedIn post which went something like:

Hiring Manager – ‘Looking for a Senior Ops Superstar who’s looking for a challenge’.
Candidate – ‘Could you provide a Job Description, please? I am interested in exploring this offer’.
Hiring Manager – ‘There is no job description. I’m interested in the person and what they can do. No job description, no competency-based interview process – that’s BORING, and this business is NOT boring’.

I loved the response! The simplicity of not having a Job Description and being interested in the person and what they can do resonated with me. Now I’m not saying that Job Descriptions don’t have their place and I know they’re a valuable tool for many organisations; however, that quick exchange summed it up for me.

Individual organisations are unique, and recruitment has to adapt, progress and venture into new areas where CVs, JDs and KPIs may not be the first thing asked for when contemplating a new role. NA work environment where employee one to ones with ‘tick box’ reviews may not be how organisations develop their employees.

With this in mind let’s talk ‘candidate experience’…

Job Boards, Careers Events and reviewing company websites are not the most exciting pastimes for your future superstars. As our social experiences and exposure within our global community grow, so do our expectations. We know the world is a small place and connecting, learning and exposure to innovative ways of working are easily accessible; is it any wonder candidates’ expectations are so high? Is it a good thing to have such high demands from friends, family, employers and future employers?

For me with two children both striving to be the best they can, the answer is yes. I want them to not only experience the world around them but to engage with it and be inspired.

So, what does this have to do with Recruitment & Onboarding? Well, if we know and accept that expectations are higher; which in turn drives competition for top talent, we have an advantage. Recruitment for the next generation of employees needs to not only engage them but capture their attention and imagination and ultimately inspire them.

Candidates want to have fun, they demand progression and personal development. They don’t want to see Recruitment as a long-winded task. How many of us have groaned at the thought of finding a new role and the arduous and mundane task it can be?

Let’s also look at the task ahead for Hiring Managers; it’s hard to determine how a candidate has performed from a snapshot, pressure-filled interview. Second and third interviews can help, along with a carefully structured presentation challenge for the candidate; but how many of us have left an interview thinking, ‘damn, why didn’t I say that’ or ‘I can’t believe I didn’t mention that’. I know I have.

In summary it’s hard for candidates to show their true worth in this environment and possibly even harder for managers to identify which candidates are the strongest, which ones will grab the opportunity with both hands, embrace the company culture and most importantly be a great ROI, at very least for the medium-term future.

This is where a high-quality Gamification and Work-like Reality Simulation comes into its own, and the benefits can be ENORMOUS. Not only can you showcase your organisation and set yourself apart from the competition, but you can also open a virtual world of intrigue, fun, industry challenges, development opportunities, company related quests and of course fun quizzes. All of this with your organisation at the heart of the candidate experience.

Gamification personalises and adds a fun element to the whole boring recruitment process. It encourages the candidate to engage with your company by providing simulated work and interaction with real colleagues. Work-like Reality speeds up the process of elimination and not only do you get an insight into skills such as time management, product knowledge, communication and leadership. A well-constructed platform can offer insights into creativity, critical thinking, innovation, problem solving and motivation.

The benefits of reviewing a candidates’ actual behaviour when presented with tasks can give a Hiring Manager some powerful knowledge. Additional benefits can be incorporated into the journey such as disseminating your company information and policies. Who really wants to be given pages of policies that will hardly ever be read, let alone digested. Surely it makes more sense to incorporate them into a fun recruitment or induction journey where the candidate or new employee is immersed in their learning?

HR Professionals and Hiring Managers have an incredibly difficult and daunting task. Organisations want top talent, engaged employees working in a fun, vibrant and productive environment. But to achieve this many don’t implement recruitment processes designed to give decision makers a complete and rounded insight to their future champions.

Now let’s look at L&D

So, your new employees have experienced your new age Recruitment & Onboarding Platform where they’ve been immersed in an adventure like never before.

They’re now starting their new role with even higher expectations and your induction training – and in fact, your whole L&D strategy – needs to live up. You can’t just upskill these individuals through traditional learning methods; you need to engage them further, capture their attention and imagination again, and continue to inspire them. They want to have more fun learning, they demand progression and personal development, and you’ve set the bar high.

We all know much mandatory learning can be seen as a task and many recoil at the mention of CPD. H&S, compliance, product knowledge and company policies may not always be the most exciting topics, but these new stars still want to be engaged.

Your learning system is absolutely paramount to drive employee engagement. I’ve seen many learning systems that are too bland, too boring and simply not future proof for the next generation of learners. They don’t provide useful, instant analytics to show engagement levels, results and the time and energy invested by each employee. They don’t continuously ask users for their feedback throughout the learning journey, so the system never advances as employee needs develop.

Learning systems should be customised for the individual needs of the organisation and take on the theme, visuals, feel and values of that organisation. There are reasons employees choose to start their career within your organisation; they’ve chosen your organisation, and those reasons should be further cemented when embarking on their learning.

In our organisation, we practice what we preach. Our LMS offers our new starters and existing employees the same experience as our customers; a Gamification and VR based Platform. We’ve chosen a Space Adventure theme where employees take charge of their spacecraft and explore the galaxy and new worlds. Each planet they visit they encounter a range of missions and quests to challenge them and increase their corporate knowledge and skills.

They’re rewarded and can redeem virtual Galactic Currency for ‘real’ rewards at their virtual shop; lunch from the on-site cafe, a nice new coffee thermos or cinema tickets, it’s really up to you. They can also use Galactic Points they’ve earned to open locked treasures giving them access to Co-Pilots who have a wealth of company knowledge and make useful mentors, or Hyper Cells to make their spacecraft faster and ultimately progress their learning journey more quickly. The objective is to get them engaged and learning while they experience fun and immersive challenges.

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A space adventure theme may not appeal to everyone, and your theme should be thought out and chosen by appropriate people within the business, employees and users of the system are the best place to start; how do they think their platform should look and feel? We’ve chosen a space adventure, but a Zoo or Theme Park may choose a safari adventure theme.

The point is customisation for your industry. Obviously, I’m a big believer in making the journey fun, but it should also be reward-driven, so employees are rewarded for their time and effort. In most cases, these are small rewards set by the company, but easy to implement and redeem. By making it easy and instant, employees maintain motivation and enjoyment to move to the next level or phase in their development.

Now I know some of you may be thinking, I can see how this is aimed at the millennials or the next generation and I hear this a lot; but let me share with you real client data and feedback:

  1. Candidate Applications increased by 90% over an 18 month period
  2. Employee attrition decreased from 29% to 9%
  3. 100% of all employees said they preferred a gamified learning experience
  4. Before experiencing Work-like Reality combined with VR & Gamification; Over 86% of the candidates believed traditional recruitment methods were boring and too long-winded

I draw your attention to point 3 above; that’s 100% of all employees from SMEs and large organisations employing people of all ages. The truth is I very rarely meet individuals who don’t prefer gamification to enhance their learning once they have tried it.

For me, the LMS should provide the foundations for everything that follows in a first-class L&D Programme. I’ve seen organisations with less than 30% of their workforce using the company system that’s been in place for years. Without the right support to continually develop their Platform as technology and user expectations change, it’s easy to see why engagement is low.

I’ve then seen the same company implement new areas of learning such as Gamification, VR and Rewarding Modules, together with a support structure that’s adaptable as learning advances and engagement has reached over 90%. That level of engagement drives regular feedback from the most important people, the users. L&D that inspires people is great; combine that with a system that regularly asks the users for feedback and can implement the appropriate changes then your users will take notice.

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but the best advice I’ve always had is from the users themselves. The first people I want to talk to are always the users of whatever L&D Programme is in place; if their L&D doesn’t WOW them or immerse them in the adventure through enjoyable experiences, it’s time to re-think your approach.

A first-class L&D Programme will vary depending on the company, the values, the challenges and of course the individuals being asked to participate. What’s right for one organisation may not be right for another. To inspire individuals to drive your business forward, customising your approach and exceeding their expectations is the best starting point.

What I’ve learnt:

  • Focus on the entire learning journey starting at the pre-application process and capture their imagination from the very beginning.
  • Make recruitment and L&D inspiring for candidates and employees.
  • Make it easier for managers who are tasked with retention, employee development and an engaged workforce.

If we follow up on immersive recruitment with on-boarding and L&D that employees want to take part in and training that captures their imagination, exciting things will happen. The technology is here, accessible to all and waiting to be called upon.

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