How to apply organizational behavior to build an HR Tech startup that offers gamified recruiting

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Elaborating a proof-of-concept and a business model for JOBFOX — an HR Tech startup offering a gamified recruiting platform that matches job candidates and job offerings by person-organization-fit. Following the lean startup process, and applying organizational behavior insights to gamified recruiting.

The startup idea: A job platform that helps people find a job that matches their personality

The idea of JOBFOX was presented by Anna at the Startup Weekend Alm Connected Lifestyle 2016. Anna wanted to create a job platform that enables people to find a job that matches their personality. Today, the job application process is inefficient. Recruiters pre-select from masses of applications by professional experience, only to find out later in the interviews, that none of the candidates seem to be a good fit for the organization or team. Existing job search platforms cannot assist in finding people with a good person-organization-fit.

The teamwork: Who’s your customer? Serving recruiters to make it a viable business

Anna was supported by Markus, Torsten, Johannes, Tom and me. With backgrounds in online business development, organizational behavior, IT and engineering, we developed a concept and a business model for a gamified recruiting platform.

JOBFOX is a gamified recruiting platform that matches job candidates with job offers by person-organization-fit in addition to professional experience. This allows recruiters to focus on interviewing candidates that are a good fit for the company or team. The gamification of recruiting is realized by online games in the matching process. The candidate and the future team leader play mini games. Algorithms analyze the gaming behavior and create a personality profile from that. Job candidates and job offers are then matched by their compatibility. The gamification shall improve the job matching experience and the results by capturing the relevant personality aspects in an playful and implicit way.

Following the lean startup process, we started with developing a value proposition and customer segments. Searching to define the problem and solution, we soon settled on serving recruiters with the matchmaking platform. If we can facilitate the process for recruiters to talk only to a few relevant candidates, we have a valuable service, a way to monetize, and will ultimately serve the candidate’s needs to find a fulfilling job. To stand out in the job search platform market, we went for a gamified approach. We developed a proof-of-concept and a matchmaking workflow to demonstrate how this could work. We verified the problem and solution with corporate recruiters and developed a business model, what it would take to make the startup idea happen and how we plan to make money. For the platform launch, Anna wants to acquire corporate clients to co-create.

Nicole’s contribution : How to apply organizational behavior insights to create a gamified recruiting platform

I collaborated on the lean startup process to create a HR Tech business model for the gamified recruiting platform. Anna’s idea was an occasion for me to apply my organizational behavior expertise to developing an HR Tech business model.

To apply insights from organizational behavior to a gamified recruiting process, we will first look at how to assess person-organization-fit, and then how to package that in a gamified solution.

Assessing person-organization-fit

Person-organization-fit happens when there is a high compatibility between a person’s characteristics and the organization’s characteristics, including subsets like person-job-fit, person-group-fit and person-supervisor-fit. Person-organization-fit leads to higher job performance and commitment of the employee. The people are more motivated, more satisfied with their job, experience less stress and make less errors. The organization gets better work outcomes, a reduced turnover, and a strong culture with shared values, higher levels of trust and a sense of community.

According to the attraction–selection–attrition model, individuals are attracted to work for organizations where they perceive high levels of person–organization-fit. In the formal recruiting process, the company selects individuals with a high fit to job demands and cultural values, and socializes the employee in onboarding training. Employees who turn out not to be a good fit leave the organization. The later you find out that there is not a good fit, the more expensive it is for both sides, which is why JOBFOX assesses the person-organization fit early in the recruitment process.

So, how can we assess and match person-organization-fit?

To break things down, we can first assess the job candidate and the recruiting company, and then match both.

Assessing a candidate. When it comes to people we distinguish between their general disposition they bring to work like personality, cultural values and abilities, their mental states and behaviors in specific work situations like motivation, job satisfaction, stress, trust, or learning and decision making, and outcomes like job performance — including task performance, citizenship behavior, and the absence of counterproductive behavior — or commitment with the company.

Assessing a company. When it comes to companies we distinguish between the work environment they provide and specific job characteristics. On the organizational level, we look at an organization’s culture and structure. We can assess a company culture by what values are stated and acted upon with perceivable artifacts. Structures are assessed by hierarchy levels, formality and complexity. On the group level we can assess leadership styles and team characteristics. We are interested to know how the social context influences the individual. On the job level, we can assess the characteristics of specific jobs, what working style they allow, if they facilitate motivation and meaning, what personality and abilities are required to do the job well, if they allow a person to develop.

Matching the candidate and the company. Next, we match the results for the job candidate and the recruiting company and assess wether there is a high level of person-organization-fit. We can match a person’s cultural values with the company or team culture, like a high-performance culture. We can match an individual’s personality, abilities and working style with general job characteristics like autonomous, meaningful work. We can match the working environment a candidate prefers with the work environment the company provides like a flat hierarchy or remote work.

Person-organization-fit is achieved when we enable recruiters to hire a person who is a good fit for the organization on the long run, rather than filling a specific job post.

Gamifying the recruiting process

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts, in this case the recruitment process. Gamification techniques are used to leverage people’s natural desires for learning, achievement, competition, socializing, or self-expression.

The challenge is:

How can we design games that allow a valid assessment of a candidate’s and a company’s characteristics? How can we develop algorithms that perform valid matches? And how do we break this down to get started with a minimum viable product (MVP)?

I would start from what already exists.

In recruiting, all methods — from interviews to assessment centers — ultimately aim at matching the right candidate with a job or company. We distinguish methods that directly predict future behavior from past behavior and methods that go the detour via personality, that means they take behaviors or answers, assess the personality and then predict future behavior from there.

Gamified approaches in recruiting and training already exist. There are simulation games, with role plays and computer simulations in areas as diverse as business strategy games, decision making games, or pilot training. Some approaches replicate the working situation as close as possible, while others have no obvious relation to a job on purpose.

Organization analysis comprise methods to assess job characteristics, general requirements in a working area, and company culture, but they are mostly questionnaire or checklist based.

As a minimum viable product (MVP) I would design games, or gamified assessments, for well-researched organizational behavior variables that are known to be highly correlated to generally desirable outcomes like job performance and commitment. To make it specific, I would focus on the mediating and moderating layer in organizational behavior: the mental states and behaviors of the employees that influence job performance and commitment, and are influenced by a person’s and an organization’s characteristics. I would ask:

What person and organization characteristics are known to increase job satisfaction, increase motivation, reduce stress, increase trust and perceived justice, and improve learning and decision making. Based on insights from this MVP, more elaborate games could be developed, or games that assess a specific person-organization-fit. For example, assessing if people can perform the emotional labour that is required in a social care job, if people are likely to stick to procedures in high-risk work environments, or if other people are comfortable with expanding their comfort zone in an entrepreneurial environment.

The result: A proof-of-concept and a business model for the gamified recruiting platform

Anna now has a proof-of-concept and a business model for a gamified recruiting platform. She can now create an MVP by designing the platform, designing the first games and acquiring a few corporate clients to co-create with.

The gamified recruiting platform shall ultimately improve how recruiters and candidates experience the recruitment process, and lead to more satisfying results by matching job candidates with work teams that are a good fit.

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