Recruiters turn to gamification to attract millennials

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Human resource practitioners and consultancies are increasingly embracing gamification as a recruitment platform.
Human resource practitioners and consultancies are increasingly embracing gamification as a recruitment platform.

Gamification has emerged as the latest weapon in the war for talent.

This is according to professional services firm PwC, which notes that in the selection stage of the recruitment process, an increasing number of organisations are turning to game-style elements to improve candidate engagement and satisfaction, while still facilitating the collection of fundamental assessment information.

Gamification software is any tool or platform used to apply game mechanics to non-game contexts in order to boost engagement and successful results.

Common use cases include customer loyalty, e-learning, employee engagement and performance management.

According to recruitment firm HR Technologist, modern-day hiring teams now know that gamification is the best way to identify millennial candidates, who have grown up living on smartphones, playing virtual reality games and constantly staying active on social media.

Candidate identification

The trend of gamification in recruitment is sweeping across the world, with human resource practitioners and consultancies in South Africa increasingly embracing its potential for identifying and engaging suitable candidates," says Maura Feddersen, an economist at PwC Strategy&.

"Applications in South Africa include high-volume candidate identification and selection; for example, in the context of learnerships. In these cases, the appeal is accelerated assessment of candidates' numeracy, language and problem-solving skills, thereby cutting costs and time invested by both employer and candidate."

She explains that the platforms for these games are usually app- or Web-based, allowing the employer easy access to information about the candidate's performance.

"This is an opportunity for app- and Web-entrepreneurs that either have a background in recruitment, or partner up with recruitment experts," says Feddersen.

On recruitment, PwC says it is useful to make a distinction between gamified assessments and game-based assessments, where the former is predominantly a psychometric instrument that features game-style elements for better engagement, while the latter is a purpose-built game that assesses user behaviour while playing the game.

It points out that when effectively deployed, gamification in recruitment assessments can raise candidates' motivation to complete the assessment and improve the accuracy of results; provide immediate feedback to candidates and improve their satisfaction with the hiring process; convey a modern and attractive employer brand helping to attract top talent; and reduce dropout rates, helping to control recruitment costs.

"However, when clumsily deployed, organisations risk that candidates do not feel taken seriously and exit the hiring process," says Fedderson.

"When candidates find it difficult to detect the fairness and relevance of the game, the game will lack 'face validity' by not addressing the characteristics it purports to measure. In this situation, an organisation can risk reputational damage."

High-stakes situations

Nina Kirsten, economist at PwC Strategy&, notes the challenge is to ensure gamification in recruitment is truly fit-for-purpose and is experienced as such.

"Whether gamified or not, candidates experience assessments as pressured, high-stakes situations, which can limit the scope for 'having fun'. It is crucial that the candidates' time and effort are visibly valued. Thus, the process must be clearly justifiable and allow for an assessment of the key metrics required for the role."

PwC is of the view that to ensure organisations effectively utilise gamification in their selection strategies, it is important to consider from the outset how these applications of gamification align to their recruitment objectives.

"Organisations may aim to differentiate the hiring process from competitors, engage candidates and boost their brand. However, the purpose of assessments remains to measure the relevant capabilities of candidates, and thus to hire the right people for the job," says Kirsten.

"It is essential for organisations to consider what applications of gamification in recruitment are right for them, if at all, and how these facilitate their ultimate recruitment objectives. At the same time, by ensuring all game-style elements are candidate-centric, organisations can ensure an overlap of objectives between the employer and candidate; the sweet spot of effective gamification in recruitment."

Just a fad?

Meanwhile, Ernie Hipner, business development director for CareerWeb, says: "I could see some usefulness in the gamification, like how candidates would handle specific situations but I would not place 100% trust in it.

"I think it is a fad at the moment; just another tool that could get in the way of hiring good talent," he says.

On the disadvantages of gamification, Hipner comments: "Would senior candidates really take this seriously or just see it as a company wasting their time? With so many options available to good IT talent, I would be careful to add another part of the recruitment process, unless it is completely beneficial to both parties."

* Disclaimer: CareerWeb is the recruitment division of ITWeb.

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