How to win the battle for talent?

Recently, the Gamification Academy invited members of our valuable network to experience to power of play through Talent Hold’em and the GameStorm method. We invited 20 Big Bosses to brainstorm on the subject: “How to win the battle for talent”… Through this blog, we will share some of the insights of two teams that played this problem through…

The main obstacles that were defined were :

  1. Bad image of our organization
  2. Traditional organization (fixed organizational structure and systems that support it)
  3. No development plan to bond employees for the long-term (mentioned by both teams)
  4. Bad working conditions
  5. No use of our employee-base

So apparently according to these high-profile HR and change directors, their organizations have a bad image and are still organized in a traditional way, meaning: fixed structures. It is a known problem for companies that lack the ability to adapt to new situations. In my most recent book I mentioned four reasons why change is hard, amongst them are the fixed / traditional structures of an organization as displayed in this picture.

If the only way to ‘develop’ yourself is being promoted ‘upward’… the options get more and more limited as your progress… But if you transform an organization towards a circular / proces-driven structure, all professionals can benefit from progress. How? By giving people purpose and commit them to some key-processes with a shared KPI structure. If you work within a fixed ‘department’ you will take responsibility for the work that needs to be done according to your job description. But if you become part of a proces, you will take responsibility for your contribution and keeping the proces going… Compare it to working on in a production chain, if you are the weakest link slowing the proces down, you will be noticed and motivated to ‘level up your game’… If there is no obvious ‘interdependence’ between departments there is no ‘urgency’ to keep pace… By aligning people and performance within all relevant processes, professionals will step up to the game and be motivated to deliver. Instead of ‘gaining head-counts’ (levelling up in the structure), organizations should reward professionals based on the contribution of their proces to the overall progress (cost reduction or revenue growth), rewarding ALL participants of the proces that contribute to the KPI’s that are defined. In other words, if we have the right information (CTO), so we can develop the right propositions, customers will be happy ( positive contribution) and we will have less churn, return, or broken goods (decline of negative contribution). This means happy employees and an attractive organization to work for!  This will tackle two obstacles mentioned in the GameStorm session:

  1. Bad image of our organization
  2. No use of our employee base.

The first is obvious I guess? If departments work together and are made responsible with shared KPI’s, interdependence grows and the chance of errors declines. Pride will increase, employees will perform better and your products and services will create happy customers…

The second (no use of our employee base) will automatically dissolve: If employees are proud to work for your organization and they overcome obstacles together with different departments with shared KPI’s (shared effort created shared responsibility for succes and failure), they will be more likely to promote the organization they work for spontaneously.

Which creates lasting impressions and positive attitude: frustration and taking no responsibility or working in multi-disciplinary teams and overcoming obstacles together?

The only obstacles that remain now are:

  1. No development plan to bond employees for the long-term (mentioned by both teams)
  2. Bad working conditions

Now that surely depends per organization, but the actions and ideas our players came up with were, per obstacle:


Destructive actions / behaviors (stop doing this):

  • Ask for approval if I want to follow a course or training
  • Employees have to pay for their own development plan *
  • We offer a standard development program to all employees **
  • We simply don’t spend time to develop our professionals
  • We have limited opportunity to grow, because of the way our organization is structured (the solution is mentioned above)

* remember this conversation between a CFO and CHO:
Chief Financial Officer: “What if we pay for their education and development and they leave our organization?!”
Chief Happiness Officer: “What if we don’t develop them and they stay…?”

* * If you want to develop professionals so they perform equally, implement personalized programs, it is a paradox but very true.

Constructive actions / behaviors (start doing this tomorrow):

  • Offer a minimal development budget
  • Start your own academy (we did 😉 )
  • focus on development instead of KPI, or better: make development a KPI
  • Create concrete development goals and job positions *

* instead of calling it job positions, you could challenge employees to earn badges or titles based on their new educational achievements. In games, they are actually called: achievement, made visually in badges or titles… It could grant perks and special authority or advantages (more holiday days, more flexibility, free lunch with the CEO, or more involvement in key processes… it all leads to more loyalty


Destructive actions / behaviors (stop doing this):

  • Sharp separation between working life and private life
  • No rewards for creative new proposals for the working environment
  • Unclear conditions and secret salaries *
  • Hierarchic organizational structure
  • An individual bonus scheme

* people will always find out what others earn, why not be crystal clear about all salaries? And link them to shared KPI’s and contributions on key processes? 

Constructive actions / behaviors (start doing this tomorrow):

  • Transparency from the top
  • Flexibility in hours, location and use of devices and systems *
  • Focus on health of employees (vitality)

* I am still surprised that people work from 9 to 5 and get stuck in traffic… I try to work from either 8 to 1600 hours or from 10 till 1800 hours, therefore evade traffic.

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If you recognize the destructive actions, give us a call to help you out.

If you recognize constructive actions, be proud – your organization is heading in the right direction!

Thanks for paying along to our Gamification Partners (in a very random order): Jeroen van der Neut, Jacco Boon, Edward Konings and Barend van der Plas.