7 Lessons HR Tech Can Learn From Pokémon GO

As of today, the revolutionary Pokémon GO app has had over 75 million downloads, with an average daily usage time of 35 minutes, which is greater than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, according to Sensor Tower’s research. These figures are predicted to soar higher when the app is released to more countries, highlighting immense user engagement.

What’s more impressive is the variety of additional benefits created from playing the app. Not only is the active nature of the app reducing obesity and depression amongst phone-wielding Pokémon hunters, the app has been instrumental at C.S. Mott Children’s hospital in Michigan in getting children out of their hospital rooms and playing with other patients (Huffington Post). 6-year-old Ralphie, who has autism spectrum disorder and hyperlexia, usually struggles in social environments, but playing Pokémon Go has aided him in getting to know other children his own age. In addition to that, the app is being used to revolutionise physical and occupational therapy sessions at the hospital–a certified child life specialist at the hospital has found that using the app is a great way to “get a kid to do the exercises that he was screaming and crying about five minutes ago.”

Many may be hoping that the obsession with the global phenomenon would start to wane, however, it is only growing further out of control as the trend-setting megastar Victoria Beckham has joined in on the action by creating her own version of the pop-culture franchise: Fashémon!

These are amazing achievements when you consider the fact that the app was released just last month. But we in the HR world have yet to see similar successes. HR technology is used by millions of employees around the world, but lacks the enthusiasm and gusto that Pokémon GO brings. Although most modern Cloud HR software is available to mobile devices, user adoption trails far behind.

So I decided to look into what makes Pokémon GO so successful, and explore how HR technology could emulate that. Here’s what I came up with:

7 lessons HR tech can learn from Pokémon Go

   1. Make something easy to learn.

Pokémon GO is ridiculously easy to download and start playing.  No one needs to read ‘how to’ guides or watch YouTube tutorials—you listen to a few introductory sentences and begin!

Despite claims from cloud HR vendors, HR technology still requires training.  If you want people to use the system, keep the UX and UI simple and integrate tips and tricks into the system itself rather than in an old–fashioned how to instruction  manual.

   2. The benefits should be clear.

The benefit of Pokémon GO varies from person to person, but for most people, the sole benefit is fun. This could explain why Pokémon Go was downloaded more times in itsfirst week than any other app in history. I don’t think many people would say HR technology is fun, but there are other benefits similarly desirable.

How can we make HR tech something that people want to use? We’ve got to highlight the benefits. These might include: saving time, making better decisions, adding more value to the business,  and simplifying activities—for example, carrying out transactional tasks like absence approvals on the go, using your mobile or tablet.

If you still think fun is the way to get people engaged, many companies use HR technology to set up ‘fun’ competitions and this could be based on measuring some of these benefits.  Using a system that saves you time could mean more time for fun in your role. Embracing the fun tasks will drive employee engagement within your company and is a method to motivate and retain your staff.

   3. There’s no age limit.

Although more than 50% of Pokémon players are Millennials, Gen X (35 to 50 year olds) make up 24% of players, 11% are between 7 and 20 years old and 9% are over the age of 52. With people living and working longer, more and more companies will employ 4 or 5 generations of people. How can we make HR technology tempting to not only millennials, but gen x-ers, boomers, and even gen z-ers who are just entering the workforce now?

One idea is to incorporate an actual game into the HR system that people can play as a fun activity during their break. People are already playing Pokémon GO and games like Candy Crush during lunch…could a HR system contain a game like that as well?

   4. More updates and new features.

Just last weekend someone managed to catch all the Pokémon currently available by walking 8 hours a day for the past couple of weeks (yes, surprisingly he does have a full time job).  It’s only a matter of time before more find themselves in the same position.  How will Pokémon GO makers respond?  My prediction is that they’ll release the next generation of Pokémon to catch, or come up with some different way of playing the app that still builds on what they currently have.

A new feature yet to be released is Pokémon Go Plus, a wearable device that allows users to play without having their smartphone out. This feature is embracing technological advancements as well as making it easier to access the app. Some Cloud HR software have apps for your work phone so you’re able to access the system on the go, but would there ever be a need to have a wearable device? Could HR systems that incorporate health and wellness look to have an add-in to the Fitbit or Apple watch?

Other new features being added to the app are allowing users to play more interactively with their friends. Would the adoption and use rate of Cloud HR systems benefit from users being able to share, compete and interact with fellow colleagues?

   5. Embrace augmented reality.

Pokémon GO was one of the first apps to really utilise augmented reality. AR could also be a great success in HR. Instead of a single sign on, could systems use facial recognition or somehow use the camera on your smartphone? This could be augmented like snapchat.

Augmented reality could really take off with learning and development, especially with training. Think of wearing AR goggles whilst fixing a car, where the goggles could identify all parts you see and instruct you on what to do next!

   6. Drives collaboration amongst players.

One of the directors at my company told me a story about how his two sons don’t usually get along, but with the release of Pokémon GO, they are now working together to catch ‘em all! If HR systems could somehow replicate this, collaboration could increase dramatically.

Here’s one possibility: The Cloud HR system contains a game that unlocks prizes depending on how far you walk. This could be used during walking meetings which would encourage healthy activity as part of a health and wellness initiative to reduce obesity and increase happiness, productivity, and concentration at work.

   7. Self-driven training and healthy competition.

In Pokémon GO you can choose to be on one of three teams to compete in battles.  This inspires a little healthy competition and banter between players, whilst still having an end goal in mind.  A Cloud HR system that that encourages friendly competition may drive engagement and enthusiasm in certain tasks.

A big part of Pokémon GO is training and levelling up your character, which is exactly what we want our talent to do—invest in themselves! A platform that pushes people to want to improve their skills and pick up new ones is mutually beneficial to all parties.

So, if Victoria Beckham can embrace Pokémon Go, maybe there’s something in it for everyone?!


Article by Sophia Butt, HR Technology Consultant at Veran Performance