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Hiring, mentoring, training and appraising employees can be tedious tasks. Siddhesh Bhobe, chief architect, eMee, a gamification product of Persistent Systems tells Prachi Rege how gamification of HR processes can change the outlook of these cumbersome activities

What is Gamification? Can you explain the genesis of this concept?

Gamification is the injection of game play and game mechanics in a serious, business-facing job or function. It is not about having fun, but about making a boring and repetitive process efficient and effective, by applying the same concepts of graded wins, levels of difficulty, appointment dynamics, engagement and other mechanics that make games so much fun to play. Gamification goes much beyond points, badges and leader boards. We need to be able to take complex workflows, business decision making processes and data analytics and map them to games that can be “played intuitively”, thereby harnessing the power of the human mind to solve complex business problems while having fun doing it.

How is it applied in the HR space?

Gamification is a way to influence behaviour, and that means it has to be a very customised solution which takes into account not just the specific business problem, but also the demographics and culture of the organisation and its stakeholders. We begin with strategising the gamification approach. Then we use our gamification platform and industry-specific solution accelerators to craft a final product that is to be deployed at the organisation. The rewards model is a key to success, and we need to look beyond monetary rewards and into the complete SAPS model. So think of the our product portfolio as essentially a powerful tool kit that provides a fully configurable rules engine, a big data-based engagement analytics engine, a large set of gamified applications and portals for various industries, and of course, a set of gamification widgets and trinkets like leaderboards and virtual environments and avatars. Mix and match these appropriately and you have an innovative gamified solution for your organisation.

What are the benefits of gamification for employers as well as employees?

For employers, the benefits are clear – you have employees who are focused, efficient and effective at their work. These employees do not treat work as a chore, but something they are motivated and interested in getting better at. Effective game design makes employees smarter at decision making, by providing a strong analytics and business decision layer behind the game façade. Gamification is not about points and badges, the real challenge is in mapping the business processes and workflows to the game play, thereby making decision making more effective and actions more focused. At Persistent, for instance, by gamifying the appraisal process, end of year appraisals has been converted into a continuous assessment and mentoring programme, which saves the company over 30,000 hours annually in data collection and reconciliation at the end of the year. Employees of course benefit through a healthier, stress-free and engaged life at work.

Is the concept popular in Indian corporate circles? What needs to be done to make it popular?

Gamification is picking up at a very rapid pace in India over the last six months. With some positive examples from the US and South East Asia, where gamification has been widely accepted, HR and learning departments are realising that traditional methods are not effective with today's internet and mobile-savvy generation of employees. Indian pharma and manufacturing sectors are using gamification for enlivening and strengthening processes around audits, regulatory compliances, and identification and promotion of best practices. As expected, with a much younger population in India, adoption is extremely encouraging. However, the road block is top management, which is still pretty old school and skeptical of the introducing gamification and social media, which is still perceived to be more about fun and entertainment.

Some gamification products:

  1. Employee on-boarding and continuous learning/mentoring
  2. Gamified Assessments and Quizzes
  3. Social Performance Appraisals
  4. Gamification for BPOs and Call Centers
  5. Gamified Healthcare Portals