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Gamification – How to playfully motivate employees and applicants

Gamification is new territory in HR and recruiting as far as customer loyalty is concerned. The tool offers attractive added value (for richtgiter applications), promotes employer branding in particular and optimizes the candidate experience. Sabrina Krause, a sociologist and human resources specialist, reveals what gamification is and how it can be used effectively for both employees and applicants.


What is Gamification?

Gamification is a tool from motivational research. Through the integration of playful elements, an increase in motivation is achieved among people. Especially in challenging or monotonous tasks, intrinsic motivation can have a positive effect on what we do.

Whether we actually perceive the whole thing as a game, thereby further training ourselves, being bound as customers or simply collecting colourful little pictures at the large retailer is completely irrelevant. As long as we apply game principles in a non-playful environment, we follow our innate play instinct and are “gamified”.

Those who are intrinsically motivated, that is, driven by themselves, carry out activities according to their own will and not in order to get something for them. If we lose ourselves in inner motivation, then we are in flow, are more efficient, more alert and can overcome hurdles more easily.

So it’s no wonder that flow and gamification have also been the areas of HR and recruiting for some time now. Who wouldn’t want employees to do an outstanding job, be happy and at the same time be tied to the company?

Gamification in everyday work - What makes an integrated game principle?

The principles of gamification come, as the name suggests, from the game industry. According to Roman Rackwitz (Gamification Pope), however, modern gamification and the game industry only share the tools that make games successful these days. So that means we don’t play computer games at work. Instead, only elements of play are integrated into everyday working life.


Transparent and easy-to-understand rules. (give the “player” the feeling of control)

motivation to act

Challenging tasks, which are mainly mastered by skill and not by luck.


Causes immediate emotional reactions. (feedback)


The player dives into the action and is in flow.



Rewards for achieved goals, e.g. in the form of a points system with virtual goods and similar.


Leaderboards to compare yourself with other players.

Rewards should not be in the foreground of gamification and also the competition between the participants should not influence the enjoyment of the actual task.

Gamification in Human Resources Management

Almost classic application of gamification in HR is the area of Learning and Development. The aim here is to train and educate its employees in a playful way.


For example, the pharmaceutical company Bayer offers its employees a quiz app in which players can test their knowledge of the company.

Another example of gamification in HR is the company Achievers. The software provider enables its employees to distinguish themselves and motivate each other. Colleagues praise each other more often and reward special achievements.

There are also application possibilities for integrated game principles when filling in digital personnel questionnaires as part of an ESS (Employee Self Service).

Gamification HR Bayer
Gamification Recruiting Heroes of Java

Gamification in Recruiting

A great example of gamification in recruiting is the Heroes of Java project. Here IT specialists were addressed specifically with a pinball game. During the game, skills were tested to determine suitability for a subsequent application. In addition, there were motivating prizes, such as a 3D printer.

Behind this brightly coloured recruiting offensive is an IT consultancy that not only advertised for itself with the campaign, but also directly reached the desired target group for its vacancies. In addition, the employer has also collected a pool of e-mail addresses to address the target group again in future campaigns.


Gamification allows us to motivate easily, but should be sufficiently thought through and planned in advance. When, how and where the game mechanics are used will later determine the success or failure of the measure. How do I design the game principles linearly or openly? Where do I use rewards? What is the balance of rewards?

In order to clarify these questions, one should if necessary fall back on specialists, who can draw for the target group-exact success from experience. The budget for gamification is therefore larger, but more often leads to the desired success.

About our guest author

Sabrina Krause Gastautorin Searchtalent
Sabrina Krause
Diploma in sociology and human resources management

Sabrina Krause is a graduate sociologist and human resources specialist. Having grown up in classic direct search, she is now a generalist for personnel matters and feels most comfortable in the digital world. In addition to industry experience in entertainment software and Fintech, she has now found her place in the world of digital media. She is particularly interested in New Work and the emerging changes in the world of work.

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