What HR Can Learn From Angry Birds…

Tim Sackett Audacious Ideas, Good HR, Tim Sackett

Like most people, I’ve fallen victim to the time suck of playing the game Angry Birds on my new iPhone 4S (shout out to my girl – Siri- “hey baby – do I need an umbrella today!?”).  By the way, Kris Dunn and I were traveling together recently; I honestly think he was a bit jealous of Siri – as he kept messing up her name, calling her Serna, Salena, etc.  I told him she’s only a friend, but some guys just can’t take the competition, plus she’s so witty!   But I digress – Angry Birds – time suck  – HR Pros you can learn a ton from this game!

At its core, Angry Birds is a game designed to have a highly engaged user experience – in non-technical speak – they want people to enjoy playing the game and want to play it more.  In HR, we want our employees to love the service they get from HR and want to come back and use our products and services more.  We have some common goals!

So, how does Angry Birds do this?  Charles Mauro wrote an article earlier this year on breaking down the user experience of Angry Birds and this is what he found:

1. Simplicity – seems obvious enough, right? But it is so far from obvious for most HR Pros – we just don’t normally design processes to be simple – we design them to work for us – not usually the end-user – our employees! With Angry Birds, you pull the rubber band back and let the birdie fly – Simple.

2. Response Time – The universal law of user interface is “the faster the response time, the better”.  How many times do we hear the complaint about HR – “they didn’t get back to me”, “I’m waiting on HR” – it’s classic! People get addicted to Angry Birds because it gives immediate feedback and can be played quickly.  No waiting, no long drawn out interaction – shoot a bird, knock down a pig – Bam! Satisfaction.

3. Short-Term Memory Management – “Laymen Speak Tim!” – This means we should make people remember complex steps or directions to get what they need from our HR processes and systems. Angry Birds is simple and it takes no long-term memory to learn how to play – you can play it for 3 minutes, come back a year later and start playing it again like you never stopped.  Can your people get into your HRIS and change their W-2 elections that easily?

4. How Things Sounds & Look – Think your employment site, your open enrollment materials, your on-boarding materials, don’t say anything about you as an HR Department? They do!  Everybody wants a great, contemporary work environment and culture – but most are unwilling to follow through with it from the design side.  Signs and symbols speak so much about your organization.

5. Measuring That Which Can’t be Measured – User experience with a game like Angry Birds is tough to measure, just like many things we do in HR – or at least many of our measures seem so subjective.  Angry Birds uses design elements to measure experience by seeing how things like stuffed animals and t-shirts sell beyond the game. If a user likes a new element, it should relate to more sales.  In HR we have the ability to measure our programs’ effectiveness in many ways we don’t normally think of – do we get more referrals from employees in their first 90 days vs. tenured employees – if so why and how do we leverage this data – for example.

So many application designers/developers are trying to hit it big with the next big app – and it all surrounds the user experience – make something people can’t put down – and you’re the next multi-millionaire.  HR Pros have this same opportunity within their own shops – build programs that are beyond simple, design processes that give immediate feedback, don’t over complicate HR and don’t forget about the importance of signs and symbols in what we do. At least that is what Siri told me to say!