How to make work engaging is the question that has assumed centre-stage in organisations today. This aspiration naturally extends to HR, with digital technologies emerging as an enabler.
The user experience has upstaged functionality in priority, and HR technology platforms available today are bridging the gap between the personal experience (with applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp & Google Maps) and workplace platforms. Gamification has also made deep inroads into HR technology. Processes now incorporate game elements, such as points, badges, leader boards and awards. This makes the processes more engaging and increases user adoption. Gamification is especially prevalent in learning & recognition platforms.
While there has been considerable focus on gamification, the central theme is still making work and HR activities immersive. This calls for applying design thinking principles, holistically, to all aspects of work and HR. While the endeavour is to make HR activities, such as learning, performance management and others more engaging, poorly-designed processes may, in fact, lead to loss of productivity with little or no impact on employee motivation.
The following are the key aspects to consider:
• Process design to make the experience immersive has to be integrated into the organisational objectives and culture. The key messages should be evident and must reinforce ways of working.
• The feedback on current practices, platforms and employee aspirations should form an important input for future plans.
• A balance is required in the game elements to be introduced. The best practice is to recognise and reward credible achievements or progress.
• Processes and content need to allow for a sense of novelty and change over time. After all, the excitement which people derive in games is due to participation in the unexpected.
• Obtaining feedback is important, as also quick responses and evolution of processes and platforms.
• Involvement of HR and management team is critical to supplement technology platforms.
• In cases where there is limited industry experience available as best practice, user feedback from a smaller subset can be obtained initially.
The key building blocks of Immersive HR are depicted in the figure above. The technology elements need to incorporate best practices and current trends in user experience. All business processes have the potential to leverage some of the below methods or others.
• Collaboration: Working in teams is a requirement for most jobs today, and platforms which enable conversations, exchange of ideas, and collaborative work enable innovation and productivity, other than making work engaging.
• Storytelling: Stories can be very inspiring and motivating. It is good to enable storytelling sessions on significant personal or professional achievements either in person or virtually. A variety of technology options can be leveraged for this.
• Videos: Videos are engrossing and can be used for a variety of purposes – company information, leadership talks, and learning.
• Wellness: This is an area, which has evolved very quickly with group initiatives for health and fitness. Wearables play a key role.
• Learning: Sophisticated tools and platforms enable creation and delivery of rich programmes. Programme design is critical in terms of content and delivery mode.
• Initiatives: Initiatives through the year are a critical element of immersive HR. Some examples could be, community initiatives, slogan/poster contests, team-building games, inspiring stories, book review sessions, quizzes and others.
• Scoreboards: Scoreboards which summarize activities, achievements and recommendations leveraging analytics and game elements are a good way to keep reminding employees on where they stand.
• Personalisation: Every employee, team and group has different needs. Technology should be leveraged to deliver a personalised experience incorporating user choices.
The building blocks as shown in the image can be represented under broad heads. There are several creative ways to approach the aim of transforming HR activities to make them immersive.
(The author is a Lead Consultant as part of the Human Capital Management Centre of Excellence at Tata Consultancy Services. Follow him on twitter @rbharath)