Escape Room Games to Increase Awareness on Data & Analytics

2021.08.26.

Over the last few years we've seen a huge increase in the use of data and analytics in HR departments in companies all over the world. At first glance this may seem to be a trend of technology as opposed to the human factor. But if data is to be used to make business decisions, that in turn is based on employee behaviour. By far one of the best ways of gaining data is through the use of gamification. 

HR Analytics Are Here To Stay

One of the key reasons to use data analytics in support of HR is to provide the best options for employees. When it comes to the customer experience, the common term to describe the values and attitudes necessary is called “value proposition.” Essentially the idea here is to use this same methodology that had been previously reserved for customers and have it segway into using the same strategies for employee experience within the business or corporation. But using employee data in support of business decisions requires that the HR departments are on the ball and have the relevant skill sets to interpret data driven analytics.

Gone are the days when you could make general business decisions, particularly those that will affect your employees, by the seat of your pants or on the whim of a “gut feeling.” Today there is so much data available on all aspects of employment and business that there is really no excuse for not making use of it in all decision-making. In today's corporate environment, you are expected to back up any decisions with data-driven facts. When it comes to any strategic decision-making, then the use of analytics can help you identify any uncertainties.

Crucial Skills For Working With Data & Analytics

But knowing how to gather data is simply not enough in today's tough competitive business environment. You may well have HR analytics departments and machine learning capabilities, and may well be hiring people who are analytics professionals. But without the correct mindset, all their efforts will come to nothing. Having collected lots of data means you will need extra skills, which are critical thinking and problem solving, in order to make sense of those data samples.

Problem Solving

It’s essential to understand how to go about solving a problem. This may sound like a no-brainer but you'll be surprised how many people start with the data and then look for an explanation. This is a totally wrong headed approach. You must always start with a problem. Otherwise there's a risk that you will be solving the wrong thing. Another issue with tackling problem solving from the wrong direction means that many analysts will cherry-pick data in order to validate their own hypothesis. This is known as “confirmation bias” and is very common with those who are not trained in the correct methods of data analysis.

Critical Thinking

Having all the data in the world at your fingertips means nothing unless you're able to think critically about it. You need to have an innate understanding of what the data is actually saying and then use this to prove or disprove any hypotheses you have. A business that has a data-driven approach is just the start. Without critical thinking, it's easy to read and misread the data incorrectly and it's perfectly possible to tweak any numbers to suit your needs. Being able to turn any data sample into the story you want to tell means then you have lost the whole purpose of collecting the data in the first place.

Gaming Makes Behavior Visible

In order to improve data handling, a new escape room game has been devised. It's called “Analysis Paralysis” The narrative is as follows: the CEO of a company called BrightBase will need to give a speech to shareholders who are concerned about the number of managers who are leaving the company. As such, it's stability is under pressure and the share price is falling accordingly. In 45 minutes this CEO will need to face the Press. He will need a fact driven statement and it's up to the individual players of the game to provide this explanation. Although the escape room is chock-full of data sources, it's only with problem-solving skills and teamwork, along with the critical thinking, that the players are able to reach the correct conclusion within the time limit.

Escape Room Games

Once the narrative has been explained to the players, they then enter the escape room itself. There they will discover various data sources. Some will be hiding in plain sight and others will be hidden around the room. They all need to be discovered, deciphered or unlocked. Even once found, much of the data will contain the typical pitfalls when it comes to interpretation and analysis. Only by finding the correct data sources will the players be able to progress in the game. Once all the data has been collected and analysed, then the players will need to write up a statement for the CEO. Because of the constraints and pressure of time, the players will need to make rapid decisions about the validity of the data in front of them. They will need to think critically about what they can hang onto and what they should discard. 

Learning And Having Fun

The escape room game has been designed in 3 mental stages: “awareness”, “willingness” and “ability.” Even those new to data analysis will be able to understand the basics thanks to the fun and entertaining gameplay. It's an immersive and engaging way to connect people with the subject matter of data analysis and critical thinking. And have a blast at the same time.

Play And Learn

After playing the game, HR departments have been surprised at how quickly employees have started to integrate and apply the methodology from the escape room game into their day-to-day work lives. Considering that the idea behind the game is to increase awareness, as well as proficiency in the previously mentioned skills, it's satisfying to see that in real life these applications are already being put to good use.

It should be pointed out that the majority of participants actually fail in the escape room game. The clock runs down before they have written the speech because they have been unable to process all the provided data. But this failure is actually a learning moment for many of those involved. In many cases this is the first time that the participants have been really challenged whether in their work life or within the escape room game itself. As such the escape room game is full of false statements and the pitfalls of common assumptions and biases, as well as how we manipulate data sources. Even though the players are under pressure all the time, it’s still essential that they fall back onto critical thinking skills. 

Once the game is completed then there is a debriefing. This allows the players, on an individual level, to reflect on the gameplay and how they went about solving the various puzzles. The debriefing also allows a reinforcement of lessons learned. On a social level, as these are team games, it brings the employees closer together, as they fight towards a direct and common goal as one coherent unit.  To that degree, whether they actually complete the escape room game or not, it's still a win for everyone involved.


 

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