Gamification Challenges in Managing HR Processes


Gamification uses the basic elements of games like fun, play, transparency, design, competition and addiction and applies these to a range of real-world HR processes of an organization, starting from recruiting to learning and development that enhances employees’ active involvement during a task. The gamification process of managing HR processes also helps in increasing the interest level of employees by motivating them and re-engaging in an idea over time (Meister, 2015).

Even with the huge upsurge in the use of gamification in the industry there are certain challenges faced while using gamification strategies. Let us look at some of the challenges of gamification:

  1. Belief that a general standardised gamified process can fit in universally – Engagement needs and the corresponding factors affecting the levels of engagement are not uniform for all employees, especially where a wide variety of workforce is working with different motivational factors that motivate them. The dimensions of employee satisfaction are significantly different for employees on the basis of age, gender, marital status and education. Thus, standard gamified processes may not be able to cater to the needs of all employees, stimulate their minds and hold on to their attention.
  2. Generational diversity: Moreover there are varied generations working side-by-side in most of the companies today. The differences because of generational diversity continue to be one of the biggest challenges to today’s employers. While the older generation looks for the security of service and are not so tech-savvy and consider it to be a threat, the new generation likes risks and challenges and are born in the technological era where everything happens in 4G speed. They don’t want to stagnate at one position, rather they want to learn fast, apply it and get rewarded for it quickly or else they move on. So, the gamified processes will have to have the potential to grab and hold on the attention of and be user friendly to those of the older generations, for whom technology has dramatically transformed the way they lived and worked- to which they had to adapt to, and also of the younger generations, for whom such technological advances are nothing but norms. Thus, the challenge of developing employee-friendly and simple gamified processes that can cater to all generations of employees remains a great concern, a big challenge.
  3. Tailor-Made Designs: Organisations also need to understand that they need to design a strategy that addresses individual business challenges that are unique for every organisation and for every industry. There is a need for developing gamification techniques customised to the respective specific needs and unique requirements, resulting in the development of unique gamified processes with technical programming and gaming concepts aligned with company goals. They need to comprehensively understand the rules of the game, effectively relate them to the organisational goals, keeping a view with the motivational aspects of the player and fit in these, to achieve real results. Sponge UK based Game Developer Jason Butler, who creates tailor-made e-learning platforms, suggested in an interview with Jo cook for the Training Journal, that if the games are based on strategy and not on fast and prompt thinking, the problem of engaging older generation into it also gets addressed. (Butler and Ahmed, 2016).
  4. Belief that developing gamified processes is expensive – Organizations do not have to design and develop a full-fledged and dedicated software, exclusively for gamification. (Biro, 2016). If designed properly, game elements can be incorporated and aligned with the existing employee portal system. But the belief that gamification is expensive and would call for lots of additional expenses for maintenance is one of the major challenges in the implementation of gamification in managing HR processes.
  5. Inability to understand the advantages of gamification: Most of the business organisations are yet to understand the reason why gamification is considered to be a good and innovative idea of engaging the employees (Biro, 2016).  The mechanisms of how gamification works and the plethora of benefits that can be reaped in by imbibing game-like incentives into organisational activities are still unclear to some companies. However, large companies like Accenture, Microsoft, GE, Deloitte and Google have started using gamification principles and techniques to alter the whole setup of working and engaging people by stimulating their minds into playing and getting rewarded in the gamified modules. This has resulted in a better spread the benefits of gamification by way of word-of-mouth. So, the sooner organizations can realize the benefits of gamification in managing HR processes, the better it is.
  6. Dynamic nature of HR processes– Gamification generally works in a stable environment where tasks or processes are mostly repetitive in nature. Processes that are dynamic and keep changing according to situations and requirement are hard to be gamified. The roles which are repetitive and programmed in nature and the outcomes of which can be clearly measured with relation to well-defined parameters are the most suitable ones for developing gamification modules (Shergill, 2014). Given that HR is a people process, where every individual is dynamic and unique in itself, with different perspectives and bent of mind, the prediction of the impact and effectiveness of a gamified process, sometimes becomes ambiguous and uncertain.
  7. Resulting in addictive behaviour– Another challenge for gamification is that it is believed to encourage addiction towards the particular gamified process that may hamper the work-life balance and other doable of employees. The ultimate motive of gamification is to keep an employee engaged in a positive way, now, if gamification results in some kind of addiction and affects employees negatively on their health and personal lives, it would bear negative results for the organisation as well.
  8. Sustained Motivation- Gamified modules do not have the ability to tap the intrinsic motivation levels of the player; gamification generally brings in an initial wave of excitement amongst employees that gradually diminishes with time. (Cook, 2013). Rewards, badges, leaderboards etc caters to the extrinsic motivation of the player which might fail to motivate them intrinsically to keep continuing to play the game. So the game elements should be designed in such a way that would keep the interest and attention of players at higher levels and keep them motivated and engaged with it in a sustained way. It also needs to be updated from time to time so that it does not become monotonous and obsolete (Cook, 2013).

In spite of the limitations mentioned above with respect to gamification in managing HR processes, the usefulness of gaming symbolizes improved performance (Silic et al., 2020) and that cannot be ignored. As organizations are trying to continuously identify the covert formula to engage their employees more and also augment their satisfaction level, it is really important to engage in gamification in a robust way, overcoming the challenges and foster productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.


Dr. Tanusree Chakraborty
Associate Professor, Rajalakshmi School of Business, Chennai
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