Pokemon Go can be an employee recognition win. Learn how!

Don’t let Pokemon Go drain away your staff’s attention. Instead, turn it into an employee recognition win! (Photo via Eduardo Woo, Flickr)

The most effective employee recognition is tied to an employee’s “perception of value,” according to TalentCulture founder Meghan M. Biro. Quite simply: employees need to understand their value to the organization and also be awarded in a way that is valuable to them.
“Money is appropriate much of the time, but it’s not the only — or even the most effective — motivator,” Biro writes.
One valuable way to show employee recognition this summer is Pokemon Go.
Yes, really! It’s likely that Pokemon Go is valuable to many people in your workplace right now. The rise of the augmented-reality gaming app is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. It hit 100 million downloads just three weeks after it debuted. References to Pokemon Go have made it onto the presidential campaign trail. Hillary Clinton even held a campaign event at a Pokemon Go “gym.”
What’s so revolutionary about Pokemon Go is that it merges the real world and the virtual world. Players go out into the real world and use their smartphone’s GPS capability to find, capture, train and battle virtual creatures that appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The creatures can be anywhere, including your workplace.
With 69 percent of Pokemon Go users playing at work, the game is an opportunity to engage employees and practice employee recognition. Seize the opportunity! If not properly managed, your employee Pokemon Go players could be sapping workplace productivity.
Now’s the time to take control and turn Pokemon Go into an employee recognition win. Read on to learn how.

What Employees Really Want from Pokemon Go

What are employees getting out of Pokemon Go? Why is the game so addictive? It’s important to get inside the heads of on-the-clock Pokemon Go users to better understand the game’s value to employee recognition.
A craving for real-world social interaction is a major driving force behind the game’s popularity.
Pokemon Go builds social bonds, according to a New York Times opinion piece by Sarah Jeong, a fellow at the Internet Law & Policy Foundry.
“Thanks to Pokemon Go, I’ve been talking to more strangers on public transit, in restaurants and on the street. One was a neighbor I had never spoken with, who stopped walking his dog and took out his headphones to ask me why I was standing on the sidewalk with my phone pointed in the air,” Jeong writes.
“Something about the sheer silliness of cute cartoon monsters interposed over our lonely realities seems to break the bubbles we’ve built around ourselves.”
Forbes contributor Erik Kain echoes these sentiments with stories of Pokemon Go as a force for good and unlikely social connections.
An SHRM guide for handling Pokemon Go in the workplace cautions that unmanaged gaming can “wreak havoc on workplace productivity,” but recognizes the benefits to workplace camaraderie and teamwork.
“This phenomenon points to pent-up demand for a more social and motivated workforce,” workplace expert and author Lynn Taylor tells SHRM.
“The takeaway is to analyze why the demand is so great. How might greater social interaction, fun, humor, mystery and technology be combined and used in a way that is related to work?”
Another SHRM-quoted expert, Maxwell Renke, said employers should embrace the game: “It gets people up and away from their desks, walking around … It gets people talking, working together and sharing in something that is not only exploratory, but competitive.”
Harness the community-building aspect of Pokemon Go, Renke says. There’s a happy medium between banning Pokemon Go altogether and allowing it to destroy productivity.
“I think employers should put guidelines in place to discourage people from constantly getting distracted by the new Pokemon outside the window, but still foster the community that has sprung up so rapidly,” he says.
Pokemon Go can boost morale and motivate employees, according to the BBC article, “The People Who Play Pokemon Go at Work, with the Boss’s OK.”
In fact, game-playing is nothing new in the workplace, the BBC found. Although Pokemon Go only invaded the world’s offices at the start of the summer, incorporating games into work goes way back. Ancient graffiti reveals that Egyptian workers turned pyramid-building into a sport, dividing themselves into teams and competing to see who could put up the most blocks. (Winners got extra beer.)
There’s a catch to using Pokemon Go to engage and recognize employees in the workplace: it only works if they’re into the game in the first place. Forcing these efforts on non-Pokemon Go users could turn very quickly into a dreaded “mandatory fun” situation, according to the BBC.
If employees are enthusiastic about Pokemon Go, encourage appropriate workplace gaming activities, such as:

  • stress relief on breaks
  • team-building and competition
  • a wellness initiative for walking
  • a Pokemon-themed party

Engage Customers, Engage Employees

Finally, Pokemon Go isn’t just a great way to engage employees — it also engages potential customers.
“The app incentivizes users to get out in their communities and walk around at times and places they normally wouldn’t,” according to Social Media Today, “and that’s especially good news for local businesses, brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants who’re suddenly seeing an influx of random passers-by searching for a rare Pokemon or competing for control over a territory.”
Social Media Examiner offers practical tips for attracting customers and growing business using Pokemon Go.
Invite your Pokemon Go-obsessed employees to get involved in these promotions. Seek their input along the way and thank them for their valuable assistance. They’ll appreciate the chance to apply skills from their new hobby to their job!

Pokemon Go Craze Makes the Case for Everyday Engagement

Pokemon Go shows us employees really do want daily engagement — it makes workplace life more fun, interesting and motivating. For more expert tips to engaging, appreciating and celebrating employees every day of the year, download gThankYou’s FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar.
This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you build lasting workplace spirit with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime. Why wait? Start re-engaging with your workplace today!

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