Energising Employer Branding Through Gamification


Attracting and retaining top-drawer talent in a society grappling with a constant influx of information and a decreasing attention span presents a considerable challenge. Your employer brand, representing potential and current employees’ perception of your company, can significantly influence your talent management strategy. This brand showcases your organisation’s mission, culture, values, and what sets it apart as a unique place to work.

Employer branding is what makes the difference when candidates choose between your company and someone else’s. The employer brand is your reputation as an employer. It’s about articulating your organisation’s identity and portraying why it is an attractive workplace. Just check out the ‘great places to work’ lists in your area for inspiration. You will find that the companies topping these lists invest heavily in their people practices all the way from employer branding throughout the employee lifecycle and even after they exit. If your former employees are proud to name your company after they left, then you have probably done something right in the area of employer branding.

To give an example Google has been near the top of the list of Great places to Work for quite a number of years. Former employees, wear being ex-Google as a badge of honour and most other organisations respect the experience they my bring from here. They are by no means the only one, but they illustrate the concept quite well all the same.

The fundamental elements that constitute your employer brand, such as your culture, values, and the way your team collaborates, the workplace perks and benefits are incredibly significant. These exact elements will also lay the foundation for your gamification strategy, influencing the theme, the storyline and gameplay you design around it.

In the quest to distinguish yourself and capture the interest of prospective and existing employees amidst the overwhelm of information available to us at the touch of a button or a swipe of a finger, gamification has emerged as an innovative and engaging strategy.

Gamification and Employer Branding: A Winning Partnership

Gamification applies game mechanics and game dynamics to non-game business processes for a goal or desired behaviour. In the case of employer branding, it is to persuade an applicant to choose your company over another one when they are considering their next career move.

The young of all species discover their world through the lens of play and playful experimentation. By the time we get to adulthood and applying for jobs, it is rather refreshing to experience even a bit of remote game-play. By capitalising on our inherent desire for achievement, progression, a sense of control and if approriate also rewards or even competition, gamification serves as a compelling tool to engage and attract the right people.

In my view, what gamification should be doing is ruling out the wrong people for your culture from the right ones, who will fit brilliantly and thrive. A pretty old example in gamification terms is that of the French postal service, who wanted to get a better fit candidate who would be ready to tak all of the challenges of the job on board even on rainy and snowy days. They used a game simulating the life and challenges as a postman as part of their recruitment process to take applicants who had a rose tinted view of postal delivery being a daily walk in the sun, out of the recruitment cycle.

Side benefits and consequences of gamification in employer branding

Gamification done well can offer a couple of side benefits you may well desire, then again each of these has a flip-side which you may not desire. Proceed with the intention you want and adapt your gamification accordingly. Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • Increased number of applicants due to a novelty factor: we had a recent project where a company employed a game as part of their recruitment campaign and gained 70 applications in the first 2 weeks, in stark contrast to an interactive video explaining the roles only achieving one application in the same time-frame
  • Candidate self-selection or de-selection: like in the example of the French postal service where people quickly realised if it was for them or not
  • Value and culture enhancing through the types of challenges you include in your game and that’s even before they start
  • Performance is a better yardstick than a CV
  • Higher retention rates of people hired with their eyes wide open rather than a glossy imagination
  • Oh yes… and it may give an impression that work might be fun

In our decade of working with innovation focused corporate clients, we spend a lot of time getting to know them and will ask about their values, often interview their people or suggest research surveys to truly understand which candidates would do well in their business. For us, it is a golden rule, if you are unwilling to engage with your target audience, then we are not your gamification designer.

You can emulate someone else’s campaign but in essence it has to be a real reflection of what the company stands for. The key leaders, colleagues you may potentially be working with, the kind of narrative you may expect when inside a role, those are the subtleties a gamified challenge can bring forward, which in traditional recruitment advertising will be seen as just that ‘advertising’.

Key Success Factors to stand out from the crowd

To utilise gamification effectively for employer branding and attract the dwindling attention of today’s workforce, consider these key factors:

  1. Authenticity: In an era saturated with information, authenticity cuts through the noise. Your gamified processes must genuinely reflect your brand and its values.
  2. Inclusivity: An appealing employer brand caters to a diverse workforce. Your gamification strategy should be inclusive and considerate of your employees’ varying preferences, motivations, and skills.
  3. Tailored to your brand: The “one size fits all” approach has lost its charm and to be frank, never worked in my humble opinion. Copying what someone else has already done, and has been successful for them, may not be a guarantee that you have the same results. Tailor your gamification initiatives to your uniqueness and preferences.
  4. Innovative technology: Game technology is continuously improving and becoming more accessible with the opportunity to do something really innovative on a small and larger budget is entirely possible. Anything from a mixed reality quest where augmented reality, virtual reality and real life are blended together or a metaverse or game experience is all within reach. If you are in the business of attracting the ‘cool kidz’ then tech is part of the game.
  5. Have a fitting narrative and story: Only you can do you is probably the best way to explain this. In your company there is a way of communicating, both in words as well as in the more subtle cultural ‘ways we do things around here’ kind of style. Bring this out in your gamification.

Gamification offers a unique, engaging, and effective approach to employer branding, it should in my view leverage your culture and values, to attract and retain top talent, and to rise above your competition.


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