Exploring the Joys and Jitters of Gamification: Can you level-up your HR strategies?

Written by
Ivan Pierce
March 8, 2024

Welcome to the era where the workplace isn't just about serious suits and endless meetings. It's about tapping into human nature's innate desire for fun, challenge, and achievement. That's right, we're talking about gamification - the infusion of game mechanics into non-game environments, like the realm of Human Resources (HR). As HR professionals, you're no strangers to innovation, but let's delve into the potential benefits and pitfalls of incorporating gamification principles into your strategies and programs. 

As a Chief People Officer in the Australian Financial Services industry for 15+ years I have tried every way possible to refine HR strategies to deliver measurable results.  This includes using gamification principles and mechanics in our Recognition and Reward strategy.  Given we won multiple national HR awards for Best Reward and Recognition Program as well Best Use of Technology, we have seen gamification done well and we’ve got some insights to share.

First off, let's talk about the perks. Gamification can potentially inject an element of excitement and engagement into otherwise mundane work related processes and experiences. Take employee training, for example. By transforming training modules into interactive games, you're not just imparting knowledge; you're creating an immersive learning experience. Employees are more likely to retain information when it's presented in a fun and interactive manner. Plus, who doesn't love a good challenge? Gamified training modules can ignite a healthy spirit of competition among employees, spurring them to outdo each other and reach new heights.

But the benefits extend beyond just training. Gamification can also revolutionise the way you approach recruitment and talent management. By incorporating game elements into the recruitment process, you can attract top talent who are drawn to companies that embrace innovation and creativity. Picture this: a job application process that feels more like a quest, complete with challenges and rewards. Not only does it make the hiring process more enjoyable for candidates, but it also gives you valuable insights into their skills and abilities.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room - the potential pitfalls of gamification in HR. While it's true that gamification can boost engagement and productivity, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. One of the biggest pitfalls is the risk of alienating employees who don't respond well to game-like elements. Not everyone enjoys competition or finds motivation in earning badges and points. As HR professionals, it's crucial to strike a balance and offer a variety of engagement options to accommodate different preferences.

Another pitfall to watch out for is the temptation to prioritise gamification over substance. While flashy graphics and leaderboards can be enticing, they shouldn't overshadow the core objectives of your HR programs and strategies. Gamification should enhance the employee experience, not distract from it. Always ensure that the game mechanics serve a purpose and align with your broader HR goals.

Furthermore, gamification done poorly can potentially demotivate employees rather than inspire them. Imagine if the game mechanics feel forced or arbitrary, or if the rewards offered are perceived as insignificant. Instead of fostering engagement, it can lead to frustration and disengagement. That's why it's essential to involve employees in the design process and gather feedback along the way. What motivates one person may not motivate another, so it's important to tailor your gamification strategies to suit the diverse needs of your workforce.

Despite these potential pitfalls, the benefits of incorporating gamification into your HR strategies are undeniable. When done thoughtfully and strategically, gamification can enhance the employee experience, driving engagement, aiding employee retention, and fostering a fun and innovative organisational culture.

So, fellow HR professionals, are you ready to level up your strategies with gamification? Remember, it's not just about adding a coat of gamified paint to your existing programs; it's about reimagining the way you engage with your employees and tapping into their innate desire for challenge and achievement. With careful planning and execution, gamification has the power to transform your HR initiatives from mundane to magical. Let the games begin!

If you’re not quite sure what the next steps are for your organisation, a great place to start is by talking with others who have lived the experience and learned valuable lessons through trial and error.  We can help you to gauge where your organisation is at, consider what is possible and guide you towards an appropriate roadmap that suits your aspirations, resources and budget. Feel free to contact us here at exsona for advice on your gamification strategy or jump onto our website ( and download one of our Maturity Model papers.