How I used gamification to develop a workforce of almost 15,000 people

Sabine Hansen Peck
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Aschief human resources officer of a global technology company, I’m tasked with developing a workforce of almost 15,000 people in more than 100 countries worldwide.

One of my priorities is building a culture in which employees share feedback and ideas both within and across teams, to help our knowledge-based business stay apace of rapid evolution in our industry and environment.

But the global nature of the business can make this really difficult – in such a diverse company, people of many different nationalities work together across many different locations, and there are strong cultural differences when giving and receiving feedback. To build a strong feedback culture for our organisation, I turned to a new tool for today’s leaders: gamification, or “serious games”.

Why gamification?

Games allow us to play and practice new behaviours in a fun, safe environment. Through play, we are capable of absorbing very complex concepts and we learn faster, without even realising we are learning. Once the behaviours featured in the game have been practised over and over again, the players develop the confidence and security to apply these concepts in real life. And there’s a final, vital benefit that gamification offers HR professionals: it allows us to train thousands of employees around the globe, at once.

Time to play – at work

Working together with expert partners, we developed a game, Amadeus Crew, for our organisation. We are a travel technology company, so naturally, the setting for our game is the cockpit of an aeroplane – and it’s an apt one, because when flying a plane, even the very best pilot technically must be able to communicate effectively with his/her co-pilot or crew.

The game focuses on desired or unwanted behaviours, and starts from a “departure gate” scene, before moving to the cockpit with two pilots as the key characters. The principle is simple: the player takes the role of a crew member – it might be the pilot, or the head of cabin – during a flight. Each flight presents different situations that will have to be solved by using feedback effectively, and so each situation allows the player to learn to either give or receive feedback.

An engaged workforce

The response to the game has been fantastic. During a proof of concept phase, more than 6,000 people played Amadeus Crew, and their feedback has confirmed my belief that gamification really should be taken seriously as a tool for employers. As one employee put it: “It’s a great process. The game is fun, the platform is easy to use, and responsive design is really nice.”

Exploring serious games

First of all, listen. What is integral to making a success of gamification is understanding how the end user will interpret and interact with the game you have created. “Why am I using this game?” should therefore be one of the first questions you ask when developing your strategy.

Second, make it easy and intuitive. When creating a game designed for employees, it’s important to consider how those employees are going to be playing – most likely on their mobile device, so is the experience easy to follow on a smartphone screen? They will also want to be able to easily understand the dialogue and content, so don’t make this too complex.

Third, make it fun.

For our organisation, this is only the beginning. I’m already preparing more gamification-based training to extend its benefits to other aspects of our company culture – and I’m really excited to explore how else we can use it.

Sabine Hansen Peck is chief human resources officer at Amadeus IT Group.

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