Pokémon Go Creates a Brand New Challenge for HR

July 21, 2016
Pokémon Go Creates a Brand New Challenge for HR

Today I want to discuss a fresh challenge being faced by HR departments all over the world: Pokemon Go.

I’m going to assume here that you already know about the game. Unless you live in solitary confinement, you’re probably constantly bumping into people who are wandering the streets flicking their phones at imaginary cartoon characters who are apparently hiding in the bushes.

As an employer, chances are high that a lot of your employees are an active part of the Pokemon Go craze. There are a growing number of reports of people playing Pokemon Go at work – and not just on their break. More people than ever are finding excuses to visit the toilet, dash to the shop or go for a cigarette, and it’s looking like Pokemon Go is to blame.

Pokemon Go at Work: Ban or Embrace?

The overnight phenomenon of Pokemon Go has caused a big divide in opinion amongst employers and HR professionals. For many, it has become a Human Resources nightmare, seemingly eating into working hours and draining he company’s profits. This poster is a great example of the frustration Pokemon Go is causing some employers. It reads:

“We are paying you to work, not chase fictional video game characters with your cell phone all day. Save it for your break time or lunch. Otherwise you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to “Catch them all”

But is banning the game at work – and indeed threatening dismissal – really the right way forward, or is this going to do nothing more than cause a bad vibe between employer and employee? We know from experience that if a person wants to do something enough, they’ll find a way to do it – and banning Pokemon Go at work could just push employees into finding more crafty ways to catch a quick Caterpie.

Some companies have a very different view on the matter. Boris Veldhujizen van Zanten, for example, went as far as actually making Pokemon Go mandatory!

“Hello team” he wrote on his company’s Slack channel “to make sure you stay healthy and get enough exercise, we’ve decided to make it mandatory for all TNW employees (interns and freelancers are exempt) to play at least 30 minutes of Pokémon Go a day. Preferably right after lunch, as the health benefits of getting exercise are strongest then.”

He kindly added to the end of his post “if you have a medical reason for not being able to comply, please contact HR”.

It’s true that exercise after eating makes employees more productive, and it’s also true that Pokemon Go encourages exercise (you won’t get much out of the game if you’re standing still). Is Boris onto a winner with his approach?

James Calder has a similar view on the matter, and while he hasn’t gone as far as making it mandatory, he has certainly made his company Pokemon Go Friendly. What’s more, in his LinkedIn post on the Pokemon Go issue, James gives some sound advice for companies worrying that the craze will run them into the ground:

“You don’t have to fear that your employees are suddenly going to stop working and dedicate 8 hours a day to a gaming app” he says. “If that really becomes a problem then you have more serious problems regarding the decision making process when hiring employees.”

3 Ways You Can Embrace the Pokemon Go Craze at Your Company

If you’ve been struggling to accept that Pokemon Go is a real thing that’s causing a real shift all over the world, then it’s time to stop fighting it and simply find ways to deal with it. Here are our top 3 suggestions to help you work with the Pokemon Go craze at your company – we’d love to hear what you’re doing about it, too, so make sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

1. Play the Game Yourself. If you’re not already playing the game, then give it a go. Why? Well firstly, you might enjoy it. But more importantly, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to tackle when you actually understand what it is! The saying goes “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. There’s no point fighting an invisible enemy – get to know it on a more personal level!

2. Drop Strategic Lure Modules. Lure Modules attract more Pokemon to a Pokestop for 30 minutes. If you don’t know what this means, then please see point 1 above. If you want to encourage your employees to limit their Pokemon Go time to their breaks, and if you’re lucky enough to be based near a Pokestop, then drop a couple of Lure Module over lunchtime – it will cost you about £1.20 to keep the lure active for an hour, and your employees might just get on with their work during the day, knowing that you’ll be treating them with a shower of lovely Pokemon at lunchtime! Plus, you’ll be boosting your chances of keeping them close by, avoiding the risk of them wandering too far afield on their break and getting lost 100ft underground like these four teenagers did.

3. Organise a Company Gym Raid. There’s no better way to bring a team together than combining forces to take down a common enemy. Why not organise a company raid on a local gym? This will work best if your employees are all on the same team… if you have a mixture of “Instinct”, “Mystic” and “Valor” working for you, then you might have to split the raid into 3 different parties and visit 3 different gyms! Again, if none of this makes sense, see point 1.

My honest opinion is that you shouldn’t let the Pokemon Go craze worry you too much. Your employees are getting more exercise than ever before – which makes them more productive – and they are probably enjoying a better mood at work, too. Having said that, I’d love to hear your stories – good or bad – about how Pokemon Go is influencing your workforce. Please take a minute to leave a comment below.

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