How Microsoft uses gamification to train staff

Microsoft HR director Theresa McHenry says technology has changed both everything and absolutely nothing about her job.

McHenry has worked in HR for more than 20 years and says technology has made things faster, but that it has also added a layer of complexity which means HR professionals have had to upskill.

“Tech has altered how we communicate with staff and where people work,” she says. “But the core role of HR is still about using human skills to find and nurture great talent to achieve business goals.”

She adds that technology, particularly social media, has increased the employer’s reach. HR team members are now brand ambassadors, able to approach a more diverse audience of potential talent.

Indeed, with more than 114,000 staff around the world, Microsoft itself has had to develop a consistent HR communications strategy. “Many companies have different HR systems in various countries but our employees, wherever they are based, have a My Profile self-service facility where they can change their personal and professional information,” says McHenry.

“This has reduced the HR team’s workload because managers can see from someone’s dashboard their start date, when they are leaving or going on maternity leave. They can also assess someone’s training needs or see when they received their last bonus.”

A global rewards tool allows managers to allocate annual awards to their team members, and HR uses the technology to keep a close eye on what individual managers are spending.

Microsoft is one of a growing number of employers to use gamification to train staff and boost company performance. Others include professional advisory firm Deloitte, which uses badges and leaderboards to encourage senior executives to complete training quicker. Google, meanwhile, applies gamification to encourage staff to fill out their travel expense forms on time.

One HR technology trend to look out for in 2017 is the development of HR chatbots. These are empowering employees by providing information about pay, holidays, rewards and expenses.

Technology is also allowing managers to communicate with their teams via social media and to crowdsource business ideas.

“Tech is allowing HR to become more proactive because data provides information on how people are working. This will affect future work patterns and improve job satisfaction,” says McHenry.

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