Top 7 HR Lessons From Pokemon Go

By OrangeHRM | Published on Jul 27, 2016 | minute read

Pokemon Go is changing the world we live in.  It's on pace to be the most popular game and most popular app of all time. There have been many stories this month of people getting fired, falling off cliffs, getting into car accidents, arrested, or robbed because of Pokemon Go.  Within all this madness, there are some very important HR lessons we can learn from this legendary game.  If you're not a millennial or don't know what Pokemon Go is, this article will get you all caught up.

  • Never Settle For Just Any Candidate

Before you start your journey in Pokemon Go, you must first capture your starter Pokemon.  Bulbasaur, Squirtle, & Charmander are the three basic starter Pokemon.  Most people want a Pikachu as their starter Pokemon but do not get the option of a Pikachu when they first launch the game.   They end up choosing one of the three basic starter Pokemon.  Most people do not know that if you run away from the basic starter Pokemon, Pikachu will appear!  Once they learn this, they instantly regret their decision of choosing the wrong starter Pokemon.  Good luck finding a Pikachu later on, they are rare. This scenario happens much too often in the real world.  Recruiters are often given timelines, incentives, or pressured into filling a role as soon as possible.  If you're a software company and you're looking for an extremely talented graphic designer (Pikachu),  don't settle for a candidate with a regular portfolio (Squirtle.)  You will end up regretting your decision and your company's performance will suffer because of it.  The difference between a regular graphic designer and a talented one can make a huge difference to any organization.   Talent is the most important asset to any organization.  Do not settle for sub-par talent.

  • Look In The Right Places To Find The Best Talent

In the game, certain pokemon can only be found in certain places.  There will be greater concentrations of water type pokemon by the water, grass type pokemon in the park, and dark type pokemon at graveyards.  However, sometimes certain pokemon are restricted only to certain neighborhoods or cities.  For example, Jigglypuff can be extremely rare in Toronto but they are all over the place in Atlanta. If you're looking for talent in the IT industry, Silicon Valley could be full of them.  If you're looking for graphic designers and industrial designers, Los Angeles could be packed with them. Certain types of people can also be found on certain types of job boards.  If you're looking for Investment Advisors in New York, a job ad on Linkedin would be your best bet.  If you're trying to fill a position for a Janitor in Alaska, Linkedin would not be the best place to post the job ad as a low percentage of Janitors in Alaska would have a Linkedin profile.

  • Don't Overpay or Underpay Your Employees

You found the Charizard you've always wanted and desperately want to catch him.  If you throw your pokeball too short, you will miss.  If you throw the pokeball too long, you will also miss.  You need to throw the ball with exactly the right amount of power as there is a small margin of error.  The pokemon will only stay on the screen for a small amount of time before it runs away. You're looking for your next VP of Marketing and you found him/her.  Let's say the market rate for a VP of Marketing with 10 years of experience is $150,000.    Knowing this, you decide to be efficient with the companies resources and offer them $100,000.   The best case scenario is that they accept the low offer.  Congratulations, you now have an employee with a low level of satisfaction.  People aren't stupid, they know how much they're worth.  It's a well-known fact that employee engagement directly affects organizational performance.  What will more likely happen is another organization (or pokemon trainer) will offer the candidate $150,000 and you've lost your one chance of landing Charizard. Good luck finding another Charizard, they are rare. Alternatively, you offer the candidate $250,000.  Congratulations, you've caught Charizard. So you may be asking, " I overthrew my pokeball and still landed the candidate. So what's the problem?"   Your company filed for bankruptcy because your payroll expenses are through the roof.  Also, the money you spent on the VP of Marketing means that you now can not hire the Operations Manager you so desperately needed.  Don't throw your pokeball too far or too short.

  • Sometimes The Answer Is Right Under Your Nose

You have dozens of Drowzees, some stronger than others.  But now you are looking for a Hypno to add to your collection.  You've looked everywhere and finally found the Hypno that you've been looking for.  You catch it and it has a CP (Combat Power) of 200.  You later realize that you had a Drowzee on your team that had a CP of 180.  If you pushed the "evolve" button in the game, that Drowzee would have evolved into a Hypno with 500 CP.  Oops, bad move. Sometimes we are so focused on looking for employees externally that we forget about the talented roster we already have.  If you're looking for a VP of Marketing, you should consider the 10 marketing managers within your organization just as much if not more than external candidates.  There are pros and cons to hiring externally vs. internally, but both options should always be considered.  Perhaps the marketing manager on your team that has 10 years of experience within the organization has much more potential than an external candidate.

  • Diversity Is Key To Organizational Success

Having a diverse set of pokemon types is key to being successful in the game because it enables you to be best equipped to fight different types of pokemon. Fire-type pokemon are effective against grass-type Pokemon, but grass-type pokemon are not effective against fire-type pokemon. Your organization has a high number of salespeople who come from a customer service background.  In customer service, you generally only receive inbound calls.  One day, the inbound leads start to dry up and your sales team is forced to start making cold calls.  One problem, cold calling is not easy and you need lots of experience and training to be successful at it.  There are innate skills associated with cold calling that a lot of people don't possess.  If your sales team had more diversity in their backgrounds, your organization would be better equipped to have success when the inbound leads started to dry up.  Having salespeople with telemarketing backgrounds or door-to-door experience would have been extremely beneficial. Language diversity could also be crucial.  Do you have a global organization but your sales team only speaks English?  You're not well-prepared to catch Spanish pokemon or Dutch pokemon because your English sales team does not have a high chance of catching a Spanish pokemon.  It's the difference between throwing a regular pokeball and an ultra pokeball.

  • Bring The Employees To You

If you use an "incense" in the game, it will lure pokemon to your location for 30 minutes.  If you don't use the incense, you will not catch very many pokemon sitting at home. Think of a company you really want to work for.  Think about how great it must be to work in that organization.  The company you're imagining probably does a great job at keeping their employee happy and engaged.  Whether it's sharing pictures of team activities on your company's Linkedin page or video employee testimonials, show the world how great it is to work at your organization.  There are many reasons why Google will get 1000x more applications for an internship than most other organizations. One of those reasons is that everyone knows that Google is an amazing company to work for and they really know how to treat their employees.  I'm not saying you necessarily need to have a mini-golf course, scooters, free breakfast, or beer on tap in the office, but pushing out content (incense) that can assist in luring top talent to you is a lot more effective than trying to find top talent without "incense."

  • Growing Out Of Your HR Tools

You've been playing the game for a while and having wild success. Woot!  You continue to grow and so does the amount of pokemon that you're carrying.  Oh snap, you're at the maximum number of both pokemon and items that you're allowed to carry in the game.  The structure in which you started out with was great, but you've now outgrown it.  You need a "pokemon storage upgrade" to increase the maximum number of pokemon that you can carry and a "bag upgrade" to increase the maximum number of items that you can carry.  If you don't act fast, you will miss out on some amazing pokemon that you wish you had in the future.  While you're stuck with a maximum of 250 pokemon, your competitors have already upgraded and are growing exponentially. The HR tools you've had in place have been wonderful and have helped accelerate the growth of the organization.  When you had 50 employees on the team, the tools you had in place worked perfectly.  Your organization now has 1,000 employees and those same tools are dragging your organization down like an anchor to the far depths of the ocean.  You need to act fast or you'll miss out.  The tools you started out with made sense for an organization with 50 employees but were not designed nor optimal for an organization with 1,000 employees.  You need to upgrade your HR software before it's too late. You may not know it yet, but you've outgrown your HR software. One way to find out is to go out into the market and see what else is out there. The last time you were looking at different solutions, you were looking at solutions based on your old needs.  If you've outgrown your current HR tools, you need to upgrade to tools that fit your new needs.  This could include upgrading to OrangeHRM for your HRM needs, IBM Kenexa for your employee engagement needs, & Work Schedule  for your employee scheduling needs.  If you've been using an open source software (which is great for startups and small companies) and have now outgrown it, you need to upgrade it to a more functional and robust professional or enterprise solution. Congratulations, you are now ready to be an elite pokemon trainer. Download the branded version here.