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Turning recruitment into a game

Using a technique called gamification, Hungarian companies help engage potential job candidates and build their employer brand.

Images from PwC’s Multipoly recruitment game.

In their quest for new talent, some Hungarian companies have found that it helps to blur the line between work and play.

Big corporations are using gamification, a concept of creating a game that simulates real-life situations that employees would encounter at a company. By playing at working at a firm, young people starting their careers can become more interested and involved in the company, while employers can learn more about potential job candidates. Gamification is designed to increase employer brand awareness among a target audience of inquisitive young minds.

Gamification puts a fresh and playful spin on the recruitment process and companies can increase engagement further by introducing cash prizes. In the case of the international advisory group PwC, their Multipoly game, produced in conjunction with Hungarian firm Games for Business, offers an interface that requests players to perform on-the-job tasks in a simulated work environment.

“What we would like to achieve with the game is to provide some sort of insight for potential hires of PwC,” explains Noémi Bíró, senior manager and CEE recruitment leader at PwC. She says that people are more interested in joining a company when they have a better understanding of what their role is within that organization.

According to Péter Filák, business development director at Games for Business, gamification can be used as a tool that, if applied well, provides meaningful motivation for target audiences to follow the desired behaviors of an organization in such fields as assessment, recruitment and development. “We have built several virtual assessment center modules into our simulation games that have helped collect valuable information about potential applicants besides their player behavior.”

The strong potential of this tool and its many uses is what makes it so appealing to companies in Hungary and elsewhere. “We have experienced a clear shift from the state where gamification was a mystic, interesting phenomenon to an accepted tool to be applied to ever more areas,” says Filák, whose company has invested heavily in educating the HR sector in Hungary on the practicalities of gamification.

Millennials learn in a very different way than their predecessors, according to HR Vice President of MOL Group, Zdravka Demeter Bubalo. “They do not appreciate being given information for information’s sake; learning must be relevant and ready for application. They also spend more time using electronic media and put greater emphasis on collaboration with others than their predecessors.”

MOL’s popular online game Freshhh is a gamified competition where students, in teams of three, battle it out as they are faced with challenges based on real-life case studies from MOL Group’s oilfields, explains Demeter Bubalo. The game uses masses of multimedia content, webinars, and team tasks in a simulated environment with challenges that combine teaching with real-life situations that are more likely to engage Millennials. The top five teams from the game’s first round are invited to compete against each other at the finals in Prague, where management can meet participating students face-to-face. This is also the arena where participants can get a crack at MOL’s career kick-start program Growww, not to mention the €25,000 prize awarded to the best three teams, Demeter Bubalo says.

Building the brand

MOL’s Freshhh has developed a strong brand in Hungary through its longstanding presence. “The Freshhh program has been running for nine years already and students from our core markets are aware of it and await it every spring,” explains Demeter Bubalo. This year, 2,307 teams from 53 countries are competing online, with the finalists to be announced this month; clearly, brand building through gamification is working at MOL.

“Multipoly is essentially a very sophisticated element of strategic employer branding,” Bíró notes, adding that the game is intended to engage all kinds of players who may never have considered working at PwC before. “Any engineer, mathematician or English literature major, or anyone regardless of their educational background can play Multipoly and learn about PwC.”

According to a survey conducted by Games for Business, of 3,815 new business school graduates, PwC’s Multipoly attracted more players than a Big 4 competitor’s game that had been on the market for years, while applications to work at PwC were up 90% within two years. Of the survey respondents, 100% said they had acquired new information about PwC and more than 80% agreed that the game had changed their opinion about PwC in positive ways.

The future of the game

With technology evolving at incredible speed, it won’t be long before gamification in an online and offline setting will be able to collect relevant data on the behavior and tendencies of potential hires, which can then be used to filter through applicants to find the best candidates. “It would be a huge step to integrate Multipoly to PwC’s applicant tracking system, which is a massive, globally integrated system, and have the two systems communicate with each other,” says Bíró.

Beyond recruitment, gamification – already present in a number of other fields – will undoubtedly develop to more accurately read the evolving tendencies of generations to come. “Our experience and the opinions of expert analysts show that gamification methodology will be applied to ever more business/corporate situations in the future, given that new generations entering the job market not only appreciate, but rather expect the kind of experience in the various aspects of their career that gamification can provide,” Filák says.