Using game thinking and game mechanics to engage people and solve problems in non-game activities, or gamification, is one of the outgrowths of advancing technology and social media. And today’s recruiting solutions are increasingly taking advantage of the emerging field of gamificaiton. The recent Pew Internet/Elon University report “The Future of Gamification” found that university researchers believe gamification has a multitude of benefits including improved learning, creativity, participation, and motivation. More than half of those surveyed by Pew at Elon University predict significant use of gamification for workplace applications from training to wellness to marketing and communications. The power and attraction of gamification is in the fun and competition of gameplay, and can easily be applied to recruiting solutions, as other aspects of the world of work.

Gamification, Napoleon, and L’Oreal

In their book “The Gamification Revolution: How Leaders Leverage Game Mechanics to Crush the Competition,” Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder describe how Napoleon used gamification way back in 1795 to solve the problem of his soldiers getting scurvy during extended naval travel on ships with little fresh food. The famous leader offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could solve the problem of food preservation, presenting it as a grand challenge to France’s middle class and scientific community. It took ten years, but Nicolas Appert finally figured out that canning, or heating food inside a sealed container, enabled preservation of fresh foods including fruits, vegetables, and meats, keeping the French armies fed and protecting their health.

Fast forward to modern times. Zichermann and Linder discuss how L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty company, uses gamification in their arsenal of recruiting solutions with their annual Brandstorm game. Looking to identify the best of the newest players in marketing, L’Oreal asks participating teams to design and market a new product line. The competition is international in scope, and has a different theme or objective each year. The 2012 Brandstorm required participants to design products for the Body Shop, a natural and environmentally-conscious cosmetics line, including some form of digital communication in the entries. Brandstorm benefits the company and its top participating recruits. The company gets to see first-hand how candidates think and work, and candidates get to experience first-hand the company culture, work environment, and industry. L’Oreal VP Sumita Banerjee calls Branstorm a key part of the company’s global business strategy.

Using Gamification to Solve Recruiting Problems

Gamification can solve tough recruiting problems, such as Marriott International’s chronic employee shortage for non-U.S. jobs. High turnover of underqualified employees created a serious business problem for the hospitality giant. The hotel chain needed to attract young candidates in areas of the world where the hospitality industry was not well known or seen as a viable career path. Their recruiting solutions included the development of a game called “My Marriott Hotel”, which instructed players to start a restaurant, going through activities such as decorating a hotel restaurant dining room, ordering food inventory for the kitchen, maintaining a restaurant budget, and try out any positions in hotel operations. The game is available in different languages besides English, including Arabic and Mandarin. Aside from the fun of playing a game and learning about different jobs in the hospitality industry, the game has a prominent link to Marriott’s career page and recruiters, so they can quickly access the beginning of the recruitment process.

Domino’s Pizza had a similar problem, with a poor image as an employer and a lack of interest in thousands of its openings. How did they integrate gamification into their recruiting solutions? Pizza Hero, a downloadable app that lets users experience kneading pizza dough, topping the prepared dough with ingredients, and baking the pizza. Other players can vote on completed pizzas, and users go through different levels in the game. The app is fun for users, gives them a good idea of what it’s like to work at Domino’s Pizza, while at the same time allowing Domino’s to connect with prospective employees and offer incentives for applying.

Why Gamification?

Gamification is becoming popular and may soon be necessary to engage candidates used to using more and more electronic devices with touch screens, swiping operations, and fast and easy-to-use apps. Newer technologies means shorter attention spans, and so recruiting solutions will have to adapt in order to compete. You don’t have a lot of time to attract and engage top candidates. Gamification cuts through a big part of the traditional recruiting process and gives candidates compelling information about companies while they have fun.

Trends and techniques in gamification have a lot of applications for today’s recruiting solutions. Things like a shared sense of purpose, challenge, reward, personalization, rankings, and leaderboards used in gamification can all be used to attract and engage candidates the same ways they’re being used to attract and engage customers and employees. Younger candidates and employees who have grown up with online gaming and handheld electronics will expect to have access to entertaining and engaging technologies and apps in their job searches, at work, and in their career development. It’s part of many large companies’ employment brands already.

As recruiting solutions involving gamification become more commonplace, employers will be better prepared to take advantage of analytics for gaining insight into job-related competencies. Using games as predictive tools in recruitment, especially for IT recruiting, is here now with coding services such as Codility and InteriewStreet that enable recruiters to use coding challenges to attract coding candidates and see their coding capabilities. Companies that are developing this now include Knack.it and Selleration Games.

Knack.it’s recruiting solutions combine game-based tools and big data intelligence to provide new ways for evaluating candidates. Video games that can identify candidate employment and workplace strengths are the focus of this new gamification tool that was developed to replace boring psychological testing that frustrates candidates and interferes with engagement and trust.

Selleration Games has an impressive leadership team with extensive experience with tech and corporate gaming solutions. They have developed gamification based recruiting solutions for sales that allows candidates to “play” in real-world selling situations so that employers can assess sales skills and strengths.

Companies are already developing more advanced gamification based recruiting solutions. Games for evaluating candidates at the front end of the recruitment process are probably closer than we think, maybe just a few years out. Maybe closer than that. Mobile technology, big data for HR and recruiting, and the quickly shrinking recruiting cycle may accelerate gamification and make it a standard part of every company’s recruiting solutions.

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