By Theresa Minton-Eversole
LAS VEGAS—Did you know there are currently 1 billion gamers worldwide? And did you know that a 2012 Gallup survey revealed that 71 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged on the job? The connection between these two facts and the impact gaming can have on employee engagement and talent management were the subject of game designer and futurist Jane McGonigal’s April 16 keynote presentation at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2013 Talent Management Conference & Exposition.
The cost of lost productivity as a result of workforce disengagement is $30 billion annually, McGonigal said. Worse, “when 71 percent of workers aren’t engaged, it’s impossible to innovate.” Gamers, however, “spend 70 hours per week looking for a sense of engagement.”
There is an urgent desire among workers “to connect, to feel as though we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and to perform meaningful work,” McGonigal said. Gaming, particularly co-op gaming, provides people with the opportunity to collaborate en masse and to develop their skills while solving a problem or addressing a challenge. This engagement is great news for creativity, she said.
McGonigal shared data from a growing body of scientific research that shows that gaming participants experience 10 positive emotions—including curiosity, excitement, contentment, surprise and pride—that, over time, can be developed and employed under any set of circumstances in any situation.
Casual gaming, which outperforms pharmaceuticals for treating anxiety and depression, “makes us more mentally, socially and emotionally resilient,” she said. Even though gamers experience failure nearly 80 percent of the time they participate in games, “they continue to be comfortable with trying new things and doing things that they don’t do well,” McGonigal noted. “They are superempowered, hopeful individuals who are more inclined to help others and seek help,” she said. “These are people you, as human resource professionals, need to look for and to hire.”
Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.