Gamification for HR

In this HBR article on crowdsourcing the performance review the author makes a number of interesting suggestions to improve the often forced, annual performance review. Instead of asking a small number of co-workers and managers to answer a fixed performance review assessment, the author suggests turning to continuous assessment through a wider social network. Here are a few of the key points, along with my own comments:
  1. Capture achievements throughout the year. The education system has already started moving away from fixed point exams and towards continuous assessment. Because they work better. It is a more accurate assessment of an individuals capabilities, removes the bias of ‘exam nerves’ and enables the examiner to draw from a variety of sources such as large group projects and small individual assignments. For the HR Performance Review, this would involve capturing achievements from a range of activities as they happen.
  2. Create a performance mosaic. Our working relationships expand well beyond the boundaries of our immediate peers to include other departments, other businesses and customers. These should all be drawn upon for sources of recognition and feedback in much the same way as LinkedIn can be used to capture references from work done (my comparison)
Gamification and the HR Performance Review
Badgeville for Yammer has already started to surface as one mechanism to add gamification to this approach of drawing employee performance from social networks. Using an existing company (and partner) wide social network, badgeville provided game mechanics can enhance the process further:
  • Achievements: specific rewards can be setup for particular behaviour such as minimising expenses, taking few sick days, or winning the most customer recognition badges
  • Challenges: task specific rewards can be established. In other words, a project can be setup with rewards for finishing on time, or within budget, or completing a particular stage.
  • Leader boards: why not introduce a level of transparency to the process, publishing achievements levels, rewards and other feedback as it happens?
Whilst it may not replace the annual performance review, the ability to draw continuous feedback through a wide social network, and focusing on the achievement of specific goals could add a powerful source of information. It might even become a bit more fun, and dare I say it could remove some of the obvious bias from asking peers to review each other in a pay check related review.

4 thoughts on “Gamification for HR

  1. Crowdsourcing is a piece of the puzzle, but to date, the enterprise gamification systems like Badgeville are too easy to manipulate. Simple “count-’em-up” badges (do something x times and get a badge) are very easy to game, and we hear time and again in our research that businesses need something they can rely on when it comes to internal processes like performance reviews.

    What’s needed is an impartial system that watches over your daily work and points out the highlights as they happen. This would be a kind of personal highlight reel that would accumulate your accomplishments over the review period. It would be a mix of objective criteria (specific goals of measured skills acquired or accomplishments met) and subjective peer-to-peer evaluation. The system would measure your personal contributions as well as your ability to help and support others improve.

    Such a system would be invaluable to performance reviews as well as other HR functions, like providing insight into the complete skill profile a company has and how to best optimize team membership to maximize performance. And operating behind the scenes using deep data mining to uncover long term patterns is much harder to game that simply farming points.

    We are developing a system like this for project teams. We’ve had good luck with it on internal projects for 6 months, and just released it to the public here:

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