Better New Hire Onboarding with Pokemon Go

 

“What do you mean there is a bird in the kitchen?” This is the question I asked with a perplexed look to a colleague when she tried to explain what she was doing with her phone in the kitchen of our second floor space. There are no open windows, no direct doors to the outside, and certainly no birdcages. This was two weeks ago -- since then it has become common scene to see someone wandering around with intention attempting to capture a Pokemon. Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go -- from growing your restaurant business to luring criminals to police to staying fit.

 

Watching the explosion of the game, the quick adoption, the ease in which it’s created community, and how attractive it is to pretty much everyone got me thinking about new hire onboarding and helping the newest people on the team get integrated. I’ve firmly believed that a positive work experience + doing the best work of our life comes from a solid new hire onboarding period. Over the years, I have spent a significant amount of HR muscle getting it right -- from hourly employees in a restaurant to new executives. If we dig into Pokemon Go, there are some solid practices we can borrow for our efforts.

 

One of the things that makes the game so popular has to be it’s simplicity -- the goal is to gather Pokemon who are scattered around you using virtual reality capabilities. To catch a Pokemon, you use a Pokeball matched with the right timing and right force. The end goal is to collect at 151 original Pokemon. I’ve long been a fan of using “passports” to have new hires collect experiences, tasks, and necessary information to help them do their job.

  • Imagine on your first day getting a checklist, Asana task list, or other trackable list of things to complete within a certain timeframe? There is a clear goal, simple way to win, and an outline of what success looks like.

  • New hires often have to spend too much trying to figure out the basics before they can do the real work -- how about shortening the training period by setting a clear 30-60-90 day plan and giving that to them in checklist or passport form.

    • For a new Director recently, I mapped this out to include a department lunch roulette where she would roll the dice to be matched with different departments during her first few week for lunch.

    • I’ve also created a “Product Puzzle” where new people would have to earn puzzle pieces for being able to explain key parts of the product to finish their puzzle and move to the next level.

 

Training gyms are another phenomena in the Pokemon Go world that we can easily borrow from to up our new hire onboarding experiences. In the Pokemon Go world, players go to training gyms to battle with the resident champs at that gym. If they are on the same team, it will raise the prestige which makes it even harder to conquer. If they are on opposing teams, it lowers prestige making the gym more susceptible to future take over.  

  • A simple way to map this out for onboarding is to pair up new hires with an experienced employee in the same role — helping foster peer collaboration, and encouraging current employees to assume a leadership role. I

  • I’ve done this recently with some new sales hires but having them team up in duos (mixed with newbies and experienced pro’s) to have them do role play challenges, practice demo sessions, and earn points for their team to share lunch.

We have heard about gamification & badges and their applications at work. They work in Pokemon Go pretty simply -- gather Pokemon. For organization onboarding purposes, what if categories of content were bundled under different types of badges that had to be earned. You could easily organize this under categories like HR Hero, Leader Legacy, Benefits Breakthrough, Communication Commander. This kind of gamification helps to get things clear -- for both your new hire and yourself. In doing an exercise like this recently, it helped the hiring manager and team get really specific about what success looks like for their new hire.

The world of gaming have always been a good place to look towards when creating training and development programs. The simplicity, the clear levels, and the achievement influence help to keep things moving forward and clear for everybody. How can you upgrade and enhance your new hire experience?