Pokémon GO, the hit mobile game that’s sweeping the nation, has permeated every aspect of society, including the workplace. With Poké Stops and gyms in churches, public parks, and even one man’s home, gamers of all ages are taking to the streets in search of these whimsical companions.
For so many Millennials, myself included, the Pokémon cartoons and Gameboy games were cherished childhood pastimes. Pokémon GO gives this generation of young professionals a second chance to bond over these familiar characters — and have impromptu block parties at the same time. But is the heady summer craze interfering with productivity in the workplace?
The short answer: probably. Inc reports on employees confessing to their Pokémon GO habits, sneaking from their desks and pausing between projects to catch ’em all. One anti-Pokémon GO memo (below) has already gone viral.
— Scott Kerr (@scott_kerr) July 11, 2016
Other employers are taking a more cheeky approach to Poké policy:
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) July 12, 2016
The long answer, however, is more complicated. HR leaders shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the opportunities presented by the social phenomenon cropping up around Pokémon GO. Inc reports, “the game is creating an at least minor distraction at work, but it’s also bringing people together.” This is a culture-defining moment for employers. Whether outlawed or applied to HR initiatives, Pokémon GO could have a lasting impact on employee engagement.
On HCM Essentials, we’ve discussed the difficulty of getting employees to participate in wellness programs, and the all-too-common concern of rising attrition, especially among Millennials. Thus, some savvy HR professionals are taking advantage of the widespread Pokémon GO preoccupation to improve their employee wellness initiatives and engage Millennials in a modern company culture. Here are just a few ways to get started:
Wellness: Pokémon GO can be an asset to your employee wellness initiatives. Employees can take a brief break from work to venture out alone or in groups and catch Pokémon. Getting employees moving can do wonders for all aspects of their health, and the health of your business. When they return to their desks, with reduced stress and renewed energy, productivity will soar.
Rewards: One of the most brilliant aspects of Pokémon GO for employee wellness is its reward system. Wellness apps often gamify their programs by offering rewards. For example, walking 10,000 steps may yield a cash prize, perk, or recognition on a leaderboard. Heather Tolksdorf points out that this is an essentially passive incentive system. Pokémon GO, on the other hand, requires users to actively pursue the in-game reward — catching Pokémon.
Community: Pokémon GO, above all, encourages people to interact with the world around them, and their fellow players, in a way they may not have otherwise. There’s an unspoken understanding between players paused at Poké Stops, furiously tapping their smartphones and tablets. They trade intel on where to find Mudkips and Butterfrees. They visit museums and appreciate public art. The Pokémon GO phenomenon has evolved beyond a kid’s game into a community building tool.
So, think twice before shutting it out of your office. Instead, utilize the game to encourage camaraderie and collaboration among your workforce.