Beyond the Buzz: Combining Big Data Analytics & Gamification in Recruiting & Hiring

Solid decision-making filled with relevant and accurate information is the backbone of any business. Well-informed and timely decisions are expected from all areas of the business including human resources, recruiting and hiring. They are the stuff of not just great but amazing companies. Our reliance on technology to facilitate our business operations, not only can increase production, lower costs and increase productivity, but the data collected in our business can be used to improve business operations particularly in the human capital industry.

Using Big Data Analytics to Drive Strategic Recruiting

Over the past twelve months, the media has been filled with stories of big data and service providers and analysts have followed suit as business leaders began to equate better business success by evaluating the numbers and analytics within their business. This is idea is the foundation of what big data is all about. As a new and emerging source of information for business decisions the concept of big data has took on a life of its own. The concepts, usefulness and resources related to big data have become a cruel form of buzzword bingo. Everyone is talking about big data but no one is providing foundational ways to apply and analyze the information for the average business leader. It’s sensationalized and scrutinized leaving many practitioners in our industry scratching their heads.

The Impact of Hype in HR Technologies

Big data combined with another new and emerging trend has great potential especially when combined together is gamification through HR technologies. Gamification makes a mundane task like completing a job application fun, creative, competitive and interesting. This idea of injecting fun into something that is generally seen as boring or task orientated not only can increase engagement but also drive innovation and productivity which is something your company desperately needs.

Current productivity numbers are at historic lows with Gallup reporting that 70 percent of the current US workforce has labeled themselves as disengaged or actively disengaged at work. Add into the fact that online applications take an average of 45 minutes for job seekers to complete with only 10 percent of website visitors actually clicking to apply. Many recruiters might tell you that having less candidates to apply is better as recruiters spend their time combing, scanning and evaluating resumes. I’m certainly a fan of transparent recruitment strategies to lower applications and increase quality of hire, however, that’s a drop off rate of 90 percent. Our formal strategies aren’t always aligned with words like creativity, fun and innovation. Maybe that should change. Engagement for new hires is especially critical as workers are the most engaged, happy and productive in their jobs the first six months. Seems like fun and innovation should last far beyond the actual hiring and application process especially with our hard to fill positions and knowledge workers we are looking to retain.

Should You Add Gamification to Your Recruiting Strategy?

Gamficiation might just be just the thing you are looking for. Like all new and emerging trends in our human capital space, it’s easy to fall into the hype cycle where thought leaders, analysts and the media drive hype, tweets and conversations about a topic without facts, case studies or scientific information. The buzz of hype is especially fueled through social media as I describe in my HR Technology Hype Cycle graphic below. (h/t to @rayschreyer for the inspiration) Through evaluation using big data and analytics we can avoid the plateau of productivity in our own recruiting strategy efforts driving real business change.



The future of engagement and hiring for top talent is through HR and recruiting team’s own innovation, research and strategy. Gamification might just be the thing. Gamification should be combined with the big data and analytics to support your efforts in recruiting and hiring. Actually, it’s not a might, it’s a fact especially to avoid the hype cycle which can be avoided with having proper analysis of new trends and technologies emerging like gamification used in hiring.

I’m certainly a fan of making work fun. Who wouldn’t be? Combine that with the ability to make better and more strategic business decisions that impact your employer’s most valuable work resource, it sounds like a win/win to me.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Matt Charney says


    Nice post, but think that anyone who buys into a lot of these concepts is eating more mushrooms than Mario. I think the entire concept of gamification is already pretty entrenched in a lot of processes – eg “Presidents’ Club” and leader boards in sales organizations – but when it comes to recruiting, it’s really just adding an unnecessary layer to an already cumbersome process. We talk a lot about candidate experience, so think that adding layers to make it “fun” detracts from what we really should be doing, which is keeping candidates informed on their status, providing feedback as possible, and at the very least trying to streamline processes to make finding and applying for jobs easier.

    I love big data, so sure you’ve seen the aggregate benchmarks which find the average application process takes between 8-12 minutes from start to finish, with a bounce rate that belongs on a moon walk. What that data suggests is that candidates don’t really want anything more than consideration, and that the job search is challenging and arbitrary enough to already be more or less a game, but when the goal is getting a good job, that’s reward and incentive enough for most people.




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