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How Gamification Enhances & Changes Healthcare HR Practices

As the world of healthcare becomes more and more high-tech and digital, are its human resources practices keeping up? Staying analog in a digital world can slow down growth and damage retention, affecting two major areas of concern in healthcare.

Gamification, which takes many of the benefits of gaming and uses them to foster growth and development in the business world, may offer an effective, enterprise-wide solution, says Lea Sorrentino, Senior Digital Strategist at HealthStream’s partner Bunchball, a solution provider taking many of the benefits of gaming and using them to foster growth and development in the business world, including healthcare.

“Gamification strengthens communication by using the program and making it part of a company’s overall vision,” Sorrentino explains. “It’s not just the success of the program or seeing people interact with the game mechanics and getting excited. It’s more about how a company adopts gamification as part of their vision that really makes these programs successful, along with understanding that investing in their people and their emotional wellness is the success to these programs.”

Like many legacy industries, healthcare can be slow to change, particularly around proven HR programs and strategies. That’s why it’s also important to realize what gamification is not, she adds.

“Most of these programs look very different than what people would expect when they hear gamification,” she says. “I think that they think it looks like a game and that it can look trivial or silly. Often the user experience is very similar to what the employees are doing already; it’s just enhanced and then centralized.”

Enhance, not replace, performance evaluations

Management and employees must be brought to understand the ‘why’ behind gamification and see how it benefits them and makes them more productive, more engaged, better equipped to do their jobs, Sorrentino points out.

“It’s pretty rare that all of a sudden we add badges to someone’s work life and they immediately begin to say, ‘How did I ever live without badges?’ It’s more like, ‘How did I live without this recognition? How did I leave without this feedback prior to the program launching?’ That’s what really changes minds,” she says. “Many employees want to know how they’re doing. Gamification provides an ongoing assessment.”

Gamification lets an employee know if they are performing above or below the curve, and through the data from these programs, administrators, managers, and supervisors are able to get the pulse of their employees in real time. Gamification reinforces what is going right consistently, creating a more positive performance-review conversation where it’s easier to of course-correct or discuss opportunities.

I definitely think it’s an enhancement, not a replacement, for the traditional review,” Sorrentino says. “One of the challenges about traditional performance reviews is their manual nature. When it comes to supervisor or manager interaction, it’s based off of what the manager or supervisor can see and experience. Somebody can’t be at all places at all times, so it’s a less personalized touchpoint with each of your employees.”

How does gamification improve that? By developing a program along these lines:

  • Assessing the standards and metrics employees are judged against.
  • Prioritizing the areas employees should exceed those.
  • Creating rewards for doing so.

A gamification program captures all that information, all the time, for every employee. Managers and supervisors no longer need to do so, and HR can take a more robust role in monitoring and analyzing a much broader data set.

“Those analytics can be used in real time within the program to provide feedback,” Sorrentino says. “It’s not one-on-one but it is consistent feedback of ‘Yes you’re going in the right direction.’ As the employee, I feel much more nurtured and have much more self-awareness of my role. We’re also able to leverage those analytics to create coaching moments or touchpoints for managers and supervisors to intervene. Being able to aggregate all of that information leads to having a much more robust and clear annual or quarterly review. Additionally, all that captured data can be used in enhancing the program, seeing where people are consistently falling down or exceeding and making strategy changes.”

About Lea Sorrentino:

Lea Sorrentino is Senior Digital Strategist at Bunchball, Inc., a leading gamification solution provider and HealthStream partner, where she has worked with Fortune 500 clients across multiple industries to help them focus on supporting and maximizing consumer and employee engagement. Sorrentino has more than seven years of strategy experience servicing notable customers like Urban Outfitters, Cisco, Volkswagen, Marriott, Honeywell, FedEx, United and Cargill. She also is a multi-media artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear Lea’s full discussion, click here.

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