A smiling young woman sitting in a park looking at a mobile with headphones on, depicting gamification.
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How gamification can improve employee assessments

3 Oct 2018

Gamification has become a major part of talent attraction but, according to an Aon report, it can also be used for employee assessments.

When it comes to employee assessments, HR professionals want to give employees a positive experience, while also generating quality insights and fair assessments.

With the advancements in the HR tech space, gamification is becoming a bigger part of the tools at HR and recruitment professionals’ disposal.

While gamification can and has already often been used as a talent attraction tool in order to get professionals to engage with a particular company, the use of game-based and gamified assessments is becoming more prevalent.

A report from global professional services firm Aon examined the pros and cons of gamification when it comes to employee assessment. While research into gamification is relatively new, the report cited promising developments from previous researchers that show gamification can be enjoyable, fair and valid in its results.

In its own research, Aon asked 540 international millennial job applicants to ascertain what was and wasn’t engaging about gamification. “The participants universally agreed that game-style elements held their attention,” the report said. “However, they expressed a clear concern about the design and visual appeal of an assessment.”

The survey added that anything that felt too much like an actual game was deemed to be inappropriate and unprofessional. The report also said that even if HR professionals want to make the recruitment or assessment process fun, this simply cannot be the case for a high-stakes recruitment situation. “Parties are fun but if you threw a party for a group of candidates and told them their behaviour would be assessed, the fun would soon disappear!”

With this in mind, it’s important that gamified or game-based assessments stick to the overall mission. Each element must be relevant and HR professionals must remember they are creating an assessment, not an actual game. The report likened this lesson to those who learned from PowerPoint presentations. “Budding presenters soon discover that they should avoid cheesy elements that will annoy or distract their audience. The same principle applies when designing an assessment.”

Making gamification work for you

Aon’s report shows that while gamification has a number of benefits, it can still be used alongside traditional assessment tools instead of as a replacement. There are many different solutions for different companies to choose from, and there are steps HR professionals can take to ensure they make the right choice.

Decide your objective

Your type of gamification will depend on what you want. Do you want to select job candidates by assessing specific skills and abilities? A game-based assessment might work best. However, if you’re looking to attract applicants to create a viral marketing tool, then a full game might be better.

You will then need to understand what good or bad looks like in the role that you’re assessing candidates for. You can’t create a gamified assessment without knowing what you want to measure.

Check the underpinning science

Before diving into a game-based assessment, you need to be sure that said assessment can really measure what it claims to. What are the underpinning psychometric properties, for example? Detailed, validated evidence will be critical for this.

You must also justify the use of this game-based assessment, not just based on the science, but on the usefulness of that science from an assessment point of view. Is the assessment appropriate for the role you’re assessing?

Make it fair

While it may seem obvious, any HR professional will need to make sure their assessments are fair, and the same goes for any gamification involved in the process.

For example, candidates should not be automatically put at a disadvantage if they lack colour vision or manual dexterity to perform well, unless these aspects are relevant to the job.

Communication is key

Whichever option you choose, the Aon report said it’s important that you explain to your candidates what you are assessing and how their performance data will be used. It also stated that you may want to provide a feedback report for each candidate, showing their results.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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