Play @ work

Written by Abhishek Chakraborty | Updated: Mar 23 2014, 16:07pm hrs
Not so long ago, IT companies were facing with a unique recruitment issue: the drop-out rates of new hires between the day of offer and the day of joining were increasing considerably and the no-shows were seriously affecting their staffing plans. It was then that HCL Technologies, Noida-headquartered global IT company decided to utilise an online learning game that would help the management understand its candidates better and prepare them for Day 1 in the organisation.

The cloud-based platform had 10 different levels. Each of the five sections had five questions each, followed by videos, pictures, etc, to make the information more interesting and memorable. Candidates were given three chances to answer a question. Each correct answer was awarded points based on the number of attempts made. The points translated into various badges that also functioned as lifelines. In the first three months of its roll-out, about 62% of the new hires had participated voluntarily in the training programme. The probability of a candidate dropping out was found to be nine times lower among the lot who participated vis-a-vis those who did not. As a result, HCL was able to cut down its pre-joining drop-out rates by as much as 90%.

The more a candidate is willing to engage in a particular game, and participates and interacts with peers, the higher the potential or tendency of him joining the organisation. The reverse is also true for those who do not log in or engage, says Naveen Narayanan, global head, talent acquisition, HCL

Technologies.

HCLs methodology is part of a trend called gamificationthe application of game-like elements to sort business challenges, which is catching on fast among Indian corporates. As per a report by research analyst Gartner, more than 70% of the Forbes Global 2000 organisations will have at least one game-based application by this year. And by 2015, half of all companies that manage innovation processes would have gamified them.

Gamification is about taking the essence of gamesfun, play, transparency, design and challengeand applying it to real-world objectives rather than for pure entertainment. In a business setting, that means designing solutions for everything from office tasks and training to marketing or direct customer interaction by combining the thinking of a business manager with the creativity and tools of a game designer. Today, companies are using gamification to recruit new talent, engage with prospective employees, engage users and solve problems.

Although a new concept in the country, several companies have realised the potential of gamification. For instance, LOreal India has three gamification toolsBrandstorm, R U HR and Reveal. Unlike HCLs platform, LOreals Brandstorm is an offline game for recruiting marketing professionals. It challenges students to develop a new product line for one of LOreals brands, as well as a fully-integrated marketing plan, and launch a campaign for products they develop. The game requires students to analyse current market conditionsfrom styling trends to spending habitsin order to identify niche opportunities for their products.

By creating challenging situations, which are true to life, and including them into the gaming context through the application of game mechanics, companies can increase engagement and output from potential candidates. It also helps LOreal measure talent while promoting the competitive environment that is associated with the game, says Mohit James, director, HR, LOreal India.

In Reveal, LOreals online business game for management aspirants and open to students from all backgrounds and from all over the world, participants have to launch a new make-believe product, for which one needs to interact with various departments such as sales, operations, finance, marketing and research. Participants need to form a team of three members and compete first at the institute level, which is assessed by their professors, followed by a regional elimination round and national finals. The national winning team then stands a chance to take part in the international finals held in Paris every year. Similarly, its R U HR platform focuses on strategies in human resource management. The game challenges students to solve a real HR case and brings out their teamwork, creativity and HR vision. Close to 30% of the companys managerial cadre are recruited through these gaming channels, James adds.

Some companies are utilising the power of social media to promote these gamification concepts. Global hospitality major Marriott has a Facebook game called My Marriott Hotel, which is available in several languages, including Arabic, Spanish, English, French and Mandarin. It follows a concept similar to Farmville, a farming simulation social network game developed by Zynga. Participants can create their own restaurants, where they can buy equipment and ingredients on a budget, hire and train employees and serve guests. They can earn points for happy customers and lose for poor services. Ultimately, they are rewarded when their operation turns into a profitable venture.

The game allows us to showcase the world of opportunities and the growth potential attainable in hospitality careers, especially in cultures where the service industry might be less established or prestigious, says David Rodriguez, executive vice-president of global human resources, Marriott International.

But its not just recruitment that organisations are targeting while employing gamification. In Delhi, PricewaterhouseCoopers chooses to go beyond its office surroundings to solve make-believe criminal cases. On a Saturday last year, the employees booked a five-star hotel in Jaipur, and were immersed in a war strategy game put together by RMG Learning, formerly known as Ritis Murder Games. Their colleagues were examining a make-believe crime scene, reminiscent of CSI: Miami, and setting out to interview mysterious suspects and take their fingerprints.

Vdopia has an in-house game called Hackathon. Here, computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Occasionally, there is a hardware component as well for doing all the work and project.

Hackathon typically starts with one or more presentations about the event, as well as about the specific subject, if any. Then participants suggest ideas and form teams based on individual interests and skills. Then the main work of Hackathon begins, which can last anywhere from several hours to several days.

The two most important benefits of gamification are crowdsourcing and collecting powerful customer data. Crowdsourcing helps in solving complex business problems where participants bring in a fresh perspective to solve tricky situations. As these games require comprehensive research and study, it also helps the organisation to collect important customer data and statistics, says James of LOreal.