Full disclosure and necessary reminiscing: I grew up with a second-hand Nintendo (shout out to my pals Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda). Before that I played on a second-hand Atari (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, you rock my world), and before that a really large second-hand computer filled the corner in my bedroom (Tetris- did life exist before you?). These days, I don’t play many video or computer games, but the ones that I occasionally happen upon are pretty cool, like this one, a modern day Pong/Tetris mashup addiction.
Here’s how video games can show companies, nonprofits, and others how to keep young talent engaged:
Give us a BIG challenge… Video games are not easy. They’re complex, challenging and take a long time to complete. Hours upon hours are spent wearing the skin on our thumbs down to the bone.
Generation Y doesn’t want to lick envelopes. We’re up for the challenge. Let us lead your next project.
…with small steps... Video games give us a big high-five every time we reach the next level, self-motivating us to keep playing.
And Generation Y workers are intrinsic motivation junkies. According to Richard Florida, author of the Rise of the Creative Class, Generation Y “values intrinsic rewards more so than salary and benefits.” Extrinsic factors such as money, promotions, rank and prestige don’t do much for us.
We’ve been “suckled on the principles of intrinsic motivation,” argues Tamara J. Erickson at Harvard Business Online. We would prefer to have careers that make us feel good and do good for the planet. Shiny external bribes may turn our heads, but intrinsic factors keep our attention long term.
Employers can retain young workers by recognizing “smaller steps are far better than big infrequent increments” according to Erickson.
…and celebrate often! With each new level passed in a video game, there is a celebration. It’s rare that people get tired of playing video games. That’s because it’s fun to make it to the next level. Fun and celebration are essential to avoiding burnout. Too many workplaces just focus on the pot of gold, not the colorful journey to get there. Small successes should be shared and merit party-time.
A recent New York Times article reported that “the polling firm Roper Starch Worldwide did a survey comparing workplace attitudes among generations, 90 percent of Gen Yers said they wanted co-workers ‘who make work fun.’ No other generation polled put that requirement in their top five.”
These three steps create an addiction, and if you work it right, it’s an addiction that will help your organization reach new heights.