How Gamification Can Help Devise a State-of-the-Art Talent Acquisition Strategy
Magazine, Opinion

How Gamification Can Help Devise a State-of-the-Art Talent Acquisition Strategy

, Head India Talent Acquisition-People Team- Human Resources, dun&bradstreet

This article is based on a white paper on Gamification and its application in HR. In these edited excerpts, we look at some selections of the paper like how gamification in recruitment can help create a strong foundation for the talent strategy.  For anyone who has heard of Gamification but is still unsure of what it is and what are its applications in HR, this article will tell you the key benefits you need to know.

Crafting a 21st-Century Talent Strategy

When it comes to incorporating gamification in recruitment and devising a state-of-the-art talent acquisition strategy, here are some points employers need to consider:

Vishwanadh Raju, Head India Talent Acquisition, dun&bradstreet

1. Define your objective

Formulate a successful gamification strategy knowing your objective. Then identify goals you want to achieve by gamifying your recruitment process. For example, you want to use the game merely as a tool to promote your employer’s brand or your objective is to test the candidates on their aptitude, cognitive skills, and personality traits.

2. Personalise the assessment

Customising your gamified assessments according to your needs is critical to building an effective gamification talent strategy. Since multiple employers fish in the same talent pool, a generic tool wouldn’t serve the purpose. Plus, if you take run-of-the-mill tests, you will not be able to evaluate a candidate’s true abilities. On the flip side, a generic game also damages your employer brand.

3. Make it engaging & fun

The mantra of the last decade has been to “increase employee engagement”. However, according to Gallup, only 34 percent of the workplace is engaged. The good news is that hiring managers can contribute to increasing employee engagement by leveraging gamified assessments to immediately engage potential employees. A brilliantly designed gamified recruitment plays a significant role in inspiring prospective recruits to engage with your company’s careers portal and social profile.

4. Communicate with your candidates

When using gamification in recruiting, the right approach is to communicate to the candidates how they will be assessed and how their performance data will be utilised. Providing a feedback report to each candidate after the gamified assessment is highly recommended. Even if you choose not to go ahead with an applicant, you should be stating the reasons for rejection.

Also read: How Blockchain in Human Resources is a Game Changer in Early Startups

5. Make sure your gamified tests are relevant to the job role

While gamification brings the element of fun and ease of use to the otherwise dull recruitment process, its effectiveness cannot be disregarded. The gamified assessment that you intend to use should be developed after extensive research, so it’s important to look for companies that are experts in gamification in recruiting.

If your gamified assessment lacks ‘face validity’ i.e. the candidates find it hard to detect the relevance of the game to the job role, your organisation would not only risk reputational damage but also unknowingly compel candidates to exit the hiring process.


Debunking Gamification & Recruiting Myths

We have seen a lot of debate in the HR space about the use of gamification in recruiting. Most recruiters and their senior management are sceptical of leveraging these recruitment gamification tools. Therefore, it’s important to talk about what are the myths about gamification in recruitment, mainly in terms of talent acquisition.

Lately, there has been a lot of discourse on the validity of gamification – precisely, the integration of game-style elements into work life. The split between the critics and enthusiasts has cultivated a handful of myths and misconceptions about gamification.

Let’s debunk the biggest gamification myths you must often be hearing:

Myth #1 Gamification is only for Millennials

Although there is no doubt about the fact that Millennials were raised with video games. However, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Z are also acquainted with games. Each generation enjoys playing games and is motivated by different types of badges, rewards, and incentives.

Myth #2 Gamification is all about games only

In the HR space, gamification when combined with talent assessments – becomes an arsenal for recruiters. While games are solely for fun, gamification leverages some aspects of games and a broader set of tools (e.g. game mechanics/dynamics, game design, gaming psychology, etc.) to achieve something i.e. to hire, onboard, increase employee engagement, and work productivity. It can also be used in other areas of the employee lifecycle.

Myth #3 Gamification costs a fortune

In fact, gamification in recruitment saves time and cuts down the hiring costs, allowing you to reach a wider audience in one go and pick the best candidates with no stress.

Myth #2 Gamification is all about games only In the HR space, gamification when combined with talent assessments – becomes an arsenal for recruiters. While games are solely for fun, gamification leverages some aspects of games and a broader set of tools (e.g. game mechanics/dynamics, game design, gaming psychology, etc.) to achieve something i.e. to hire, onboard, increase employee engagement, and work productivity. It can also be used in other areas of the employee lifecycle.

Leveraging Gamification in Recruiting Space

Gamification is essentially the application of game technology – game theory, mechanics, and gaming design – in non-game contexts. While companies initially used gamification solely as a marketing tactic to engage their consumers, it has disrupted workplace selection in the last decade, now serving as a viable alternative to traditional assessments and being used to attract, select, onboard, and develop employees.  

While the media coverage of gamification in recruitment has increased over recent years, the process is not new. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest attempts to gamify recruitment was made in 1999 by the US Army. The US military came up with an ingenious idea to uncover the most talented prospects for hiring.

Other popular business examples of gamification: The Samsung Nation, Jillian Michaels Fitness Program, Starbucks, Nike+ Run Club, Progress Wars, Nissan Carwings, and Beat The GMAT

An extensive Korn Ferry report reveals that there will be a global talent shortage of more than 85 million people by 2030. The jobs left unfilled in the media, communications, and technology could lead to about $8.5 trillion in unrealised annual revenues. Today’s top performers won’t acknowledge the old-fashioned ads that don’t inspire them to rise to challenges or enhance already valuable skill sets.

To thrive in this ever-evolving digital era, organisations need to adopt an effective talent acquisition strategy that attracts top-notch talent and persuades them to bring their extraordinary skills to your company. But how do you do that?

Apparently, gamification in recruitment seems the right answer. Recruiting experts from the Society of Human Resources Management believe that gamification in HR can project an innovative image of an employer, drum up people’s interest in job openings, and accurately predict applicants’ future job performance.

· Build brand awareness

Gamification in talent acquisition, with its wide scope and customisability, has been helping companies improve engagement, strengthen their employer brand and personalise their recruitment process to discover the premiere talent, all the while making the hiring process fun.

Using gamification in HR processes, organisations can both induct the best candidates and showcase their employer brand to hundreds and thousands of candidates.    

· Obtain more real insights into your candidates

Sometimes candidates fail to perform at their best in the tests and interviews due to anxiety or intimidation. Other times, HR leaders miss out on competent candidates merely because they haven’t presented their CVs in an eye-catching layout.

With the application of gamification in recruiting, you provide candidates with a familiar and fun environment, allowing them to demonstrate their true potential in a relaxed atmosphere. This, in turn, also enables you to evaluate each candidate’s true abilities.

· Reach a wider talent pool

When it comes to resumes, sifting the wheat from the chaff can be a really cumbersome task. And it becomes next to impossible when you have over a hundred resumes against a single job position. Plus, if you look at the flip side of the coin, you see companies struggling with not having enough candidates to select from due to their inability to reach the mass audience.

With gamification, employers can attract a broad range of candidates who may otherwise not have found a particular job opportunity on their own. In simpler words, gamification in HR serves as a talent surfacing engine, unearthing top talent from unimaginable places and helping both employers and candidates find each other in a fun way.

· Provide a level playing field

A strong candidate may come in many different shapes and sizes – young, old, neophyte, or an experienced professional. The potential star employee can belong to any of these backgrounds. But resumes cannot always represent the skills and capabilities that a candidate has to offer, especially for the ones who are new to the workforce and the industry.

Research shows that the traditional hiring process is biased and unfair. Unconscious sexism, racism, and ageism play a pivotal role in who gets hired. In fact, 81 percent of employers realise that unconscious bias impacts their decisions, which leads them to miss out on top candidates.

As an HR technology company, what we have noticed is that – most organisations use gamification-powered recruitment games to improve their candidate experience. After all these recruitment games are powered by gamification principles, AI, and neuroscience-based games.

Let’s look at some organisations leveraging the power of gamification in recruiting and some top recruitment games examples:


Unilever, the Dutch-British consumer-goods giant and one of the world’s leading conglomerates, has over 170,000 employees worldwide. In order to rejuvenate its recruitment process, the company partnered with an HR service provider, digitising the first steps of the recruitment process using AI.

Candidates play a selection of games that evaluate them on their reasoning, aptitude, and logic and then machine learning algorithms assess whether they are suitable for whatever job role they applied for.


Tech giant Google organises Google Code Jam, a code-writing competition as a way to discover and induct outstanding talent for the company. Participants not only get a chance to display their skills as potential hires but also get a golden opportunity to win up to $50,000 in monetary prizes.


The Germany-based industrial company Siemens is another company that experimented with games, at least in part as a recruiting vehicle. Siemens created an online interactive game called ‘Plantville’ that provides players with the opportunity to run a virtual factory.

While the game initially served as a kind of marketing tool to attract potential employees, the executives at the company later made the game a part of their talent acquisition strategy.


Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, uses a gamified and interactive recruiting video to make sure new recruits understand the fundamental values the organisation is looking for in its employees.

Going by the name ‘Will you fit into Deloitte?’, the gamified recruiting video educates the potential hires about the company culture while also allowing the user to evaluate their own suitability for the workplace.

Marriott Hotel

Marriott, a hospitality giant, developed a hotel-themed game as part of its recruitment gamification strategy, in which applicants have to juggle all the responsibilities of a hotel kitchen manager. Players get acquainted with the workplace environment while simultaneously they earn virtual rewards that elevate the image of the company in their eyes.

By making gamification a part of its recruitment strategy, Marriot was able to bypass traditional hiring methods and assess beforehand the suitability of the candidates for the hospitality roles.

Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR)

Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), the multinational food and drink processing conglomerate corporation, utilised gamified assessment to assess candidates on their aptitude, cognitive skills, and personality traits. By gamifying its recruitment process for the Future Talent Graduate Development Programme, the company was able to induct ambitious graduates.

Leveraging Gamification in Business Partnering and Operations

Gamification uses the natural competitive attitude in people to trigger them to perform better. It helps employees to engage themselves better in the organisation.

Investment in gamification apps in crucial areas like onboarding, training, etc. should be made accordingly to aid in accomplishing the strategic objectives of the company. 

In general, attributes like entrepreneurial spirit, quick and prompt decision-making, and problem-solving attitude were determined based on answers given during interview questions but gamification offers the opportunity to simulate the working environment and help create better selection techniques in procuring the best talent from the pool. For example, Marriott Hotels launched an app that will make candidates virtually perform hotel service tasks that will provide information about the way the candidate will approach the real work that will in turn help eliminate those candidates who will lack the desired patience and aptitude for the job.

Present-day performance management and performance appraisal utilise gamification. Well, it may be a good question to ask – that in the era of decreasing headcounts in organisations, how are employees going to stay engaged and how can using a video game in the office help improve employee performance related to actual performance appraisal? To answer this very simply, gamification tries to fit the entire performance appraisal process in such a way that employees’ performances are easily deciphered through gamification. Using badges and accolades for a great team player works as a traditional pat on the back of the employee by his/her boss. And that actually works.

Gamification is 75 percent psychology and 25 percent technology

There are various gamification platforms available today to suit multiple areas of HR. Whatever the goals of the company, there are numerous softwares that can provide an answer. Below is a comprised list of various software that helps in various aspects of HR functions:

  • Cuckoo Tech: A gamifying code for time and attendance.
  • Employee Connect: An engaging program for improving communication among employees.
  • Badgeville: A comprehensive solution for keeping a record of employees, appraisals, overtime work, and so on.
  • Hyphen: A platform for mobile real-time employee engagement.
  • Axonify: It is a micro-learning gaming platform.
  • Mambo.IO: Mambo.IO offers on-premise and cloud-based software for gamification.
  • Spinify: It is the customised leaderboard platform for gamification. It is a TV and desktop-based solution. 
  • Moroku: It is a web-based gamification solution suited for SMEs. It is Integrated with mobile banking and payment practices and also supports mobile gaming and social media.

HR Gaming In Enhancing Performance and Learning

Gamification is also used for enhancing learning and thereby boosting performance.

Microsoft: Uses gamification to drive agent performance and learning.
Walmart: Used gamification techniques to offer safety training to its scattered workforce of more than 5000 partners across its various distribution centers. This resulted in a 54 percent decrease in mishaps and also became a massive hit among employees.

Gamification In Employee Engagement And Collaboration

Qualcomm: A simple gamification technique over site for its internal Q&A system where employees pose various technical questions, and anyone can answer. There was less number of unanswered questions and better employee engagement.

Gamification In The Administrative Process

Google: Employees receive an allowance when going on a work trip for each location. Google gamified this process by making employees who had an unspent allowance choose how to utilise the remaining money with three options: integrating it with their next paycheck, saving for future trips, or lending to a charity of their choice. There was 100 percent compliance in submitting travel information within six months of launching the game.

Leveraging Gamification in Learning & Development

Gamification is a way of making the learning process more fun and engaging. It helps us learn faster and retain what we’ve learned

In 2011, a group of online gamers collectively solved a problem in three short weeks that had puzzled scientists for decades: They found the structure of an enzyme that helps AIDS-like viruses reproduce. This communal discovery has become a go-to example that illustrates the benefits of gamification.

In the HR community, companies are increasingly implementing gamification to drive higher employee engagement, boost productivity, and encourage healthy habits, among other outcomes. By tapping into people’s innate love of playing games, employees are encouraged to solve problems while generating measurable results for the organisation.

Google: Employees receive an allowance when going on a work trip for each location. Google gamified this process by making employees who had an unspent allowance choose how to utilise the remaining money with three options: integrating it with their next paycheck, saving for future trips, or lending to a charity of their choice. There was 100 percent compliance in submitting travel information within six months of launching the game.

Here’s a look at five creative ways more companies have implemented successful gamification programs:

Cisco Employees Play Their Way to Becoming Social Media Masters

Cisco had invested in a global social media training program for its employees and contractors to build and leverage their social media skillset. But with over 46 courses as part of the program, it was overwhelming to figure out where to start. Since gamifying its social media training program, more than 650 Cisco employees have been certified with over 13,000 courses taken.

How Deloitte Made Leadership Training for Senior Execs “Addictive”

Deloitte had built a leadership training curriculum for senior executives but had trouble encouraging executives to start and complete the program. Deloitte turned to Badgeville to introduce gamified elements like badges, leaderboards, and status symbols that measured how many executives were participating and completing courses. The average time to complete the training curriculum dropped by 50 percent, and the program has seen a 46.6 percent increase in the number of users that return to the site daily.

Microsoft Staffers Around the World Weigh in on Language Localisation

Microsoft has myriad language localisation needs for its many products, and ensuring that translations were accurate and made sense was a huge challenge for just one team. Microsoft built a “Language Quality” game, which involved a very simple Silverlight application that let users view screens to check for language accuracy. Microsoft included intentionally poor translations to make sure its employees were actually paying attention. Result: 4,500 users reviewed 500,000 screens to correct or improve translations based on their native languages. Microsoft Japan actually took a company-wide day off to play the game and ended up winning the leaderboard.

Benefits of Gamification in the Workplace


The most often cited reason companies try gamification is to improve employee motivation. Apparently, there are a lot of workers who need the extra boost. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 70 percent of U.S. workers reported themselves as not being engaged in their jobs.

Companies have found that gamification can help. LiveOps, a call center outsourcing firm, reported that adding game elements to reward employees reduced call times by 15 percent while increasing sales by at least 8 percent and customer satisfaction by 9 percent. The company also reduced training time from four weeks to only 14 hours when it added badges and rankings to motivate its workforce.


In traditional workplaces, employees receive annual reviews that decide raises and promotions. In the gamified workplace, employees receive constant updates on their performance as they earn higher rankings and badges that get the attention of colleagues and supervisors. Companies like Spotify and LivingSocial have already replaced traditional reviews with mobile and gamified versions and have reported that 90 percent of employees are voluntarily participating in these programs.


A vital benefit of gamifying business is that it helps companies identify their future stars and leaders. Rather than just motivating the disengaged, gamification provides tools for motivated workers to contribute and be recognised.

Unlike in the past, when managers would call attention to their best employees, workers now identify with each other. NTT Data and Deloitte use gamification to provide their employees with the chance to learn about leadership roles, develop management skills, and become better known within their organisations based on their gameplay.


German enterprise software company SAP has used a point system to rank top contributors on its SAP Community Network (SCN) for a decade. Users of the social media site earn points when they contribute to forums and when their posts are liked. Rankings are visible on a global leaderboard, which is then used in employee performance reviews and when managers are searching for domain specialists when forming project teams.

Users have even begun including SCN ranking on resumes and employers are asking for them on job applications. What was intended as a purely internal metric to encourage community participation has become a valuable credential in the real world.

Also read: How Skills Inventory Created Through Assessment Tools Can Help Win the ‘Build vs Buy Talent’ Argument


HR professionals must prioritise openness and confidence in incorporating Gamification in the current workflows and see how it can bring experience, efficiency, and effectiveness. A few early movers have paved the path as explained earlier which is a good case study for adoption and yes the personal touch is essential in the whole design of the gamified environment. 

Gamification is here to stay and many more companies will start adopting it as part of their competitive advantage.

Curated by: Bruhadeeswaran R

Registered Name: Dun and Bradstreet – Jacksonville, Florida,
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