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

The foundation of any business is sound decision-making based on relevant and reliable information. All departments of the organization, including human resources, recruiting, and hiring, are required to make well-informed and timely judgments. They are the stuff of not just excellent, but incredible businesses. Our reliance on technology to facilitate our business operations not only has the potential to increase production, lower costs, and increase productivity, but the data collected in our business can also be used to improve business operations, particularly in the human capital industry.

Using Big Data Analytics to Drive Strategic Recruiting

Over the last year, the media has been flooded with articles about big data, and service providers and analysts have followed suit as corporate leaders began to associate better business success with reviewing the numbers and analytics within their organization. This concept is at the heart of what big data is all about. Big data has taken on a life of its own as a new and developing source of information for business choices. Big data concepts, applications, and resources have devolved into a harsh type of buzzword bingo. Everyone is talking about big data, but no one is giving foundational means for the average company leader to apply and understand the information. It’s been sensationalized and analyzed, leaving many practitioners in our business perplexed.

The Impact of Hype in HR Technologies

Big data paired with another new and developing trend has enormous promise, particularly when integrated with gamification via HR solutions. Gamification turns a dull chore like filling out a job application into something entertaining, creative, competitive, and engaging. Injecting fun into something that is commonly perceived as monotonous or task-oriented not only increases engagement but also drives innovation and productivity, which your organization sorely 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

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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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