Using games and AI to maximize cultural intelligence in the workplace

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US companies spend $177 billion annually on talent development. But with increasing competition in the job market during the Great Resignation, expectations are growing. Employees are now demanding more diverse opportunities and have become candid about what will fuel their motivation and loyalty. Key items include training and progressive diversity, equality, inclusion and connectedness (DEIB) solutions. According to PwC, 85% of women and 74% of men look for employers with diversity and inclusion strategies.

But with an abundance of easily accessible educational content online, how can employers differentiate their talent development offerings to attract, develop and retain the best employees? Many of today’s top companies are now turning to games and artificial intelligence (AI), which can enhance the human experience and maximize cultural intelligence in the workplace. Let’s see how this combination works.

Why traditional talent development is no longer enough

In a competitive job market, the strength of your people is closely linked to positive business results. Strategically recruiting and deploying top candidates and retaining them long after they come on board are vital to mitigate risk, achieve goals and objectives, and future-proof for continued success. Talent development has long been considered a strategic core initiative to engage and empower a company’s workforce, but now we see the old tactics no longer work.

In the past, employers would send their staff to training courses or have them read popular books on skill building or coaching. Next came the annual reviews meant to critique and inspire. These traditional talent development tools, focused on knowledge acquisition, have been used more to improve a company’s ROI than to drive employee development. Today’s workforce still craves intellectual growth, but they demand more “targeted” employee development opportunities in addition to meaningful work.

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The internet has spawned a plethora of niche solutions, including upskilling platforms, learning management systems, and online course providers. Even a quick browser search for “talent development” gets us over a billion hits. The sheer amount of educational content available now can be overwhelming. How can an employee choose when there is so much choice?

There’s also the fact that many of us don’t know what we want to learn, let alone what we need to learn. Often, recommended or required content isn’t delivered in the employee’s preferred learning style or offered at the ideal time to learn, so information isn’t preserved as well as it could be.

Wherever the content comes from, it is important to understand that we cannot (and should not) separate DEIB from talent development. DEIB must be inherently integrated into all learning content and experiences. And we need to provide these development opportunities in a way that empowers everyone to be most successful in the workplace.

The importance of instilling DEIB in the workforce

Our definition of DEIB must go beyond the demographics of employees and what categories they represent. We need to be more intentional and more humane, because the goal is to change and improve behavior.

Unfortunately, when trying to introduce DEIB to the workforce, many organizations rely on methods such as lectures, panels, surveys, and pre-recorded videos. These methods help disseminate information, but fall short when it comes to changing employee behavior. Technology is often used to track the participation or number of different hires, but not to track the impact, change or development of employees’ mindsets.

What’s missing are repetitive real-world experiences that allow people to spot mistakes, biases, voids, gaps, and areas of development without feeling like they have to be put on the defensive. People need hands-on experience to continuously develop core skills such as communication, listening, vulnerability, empathy and compassion.

Workplace behavior shapes the world around us. After all, 78% of full-time workers spend more time with colleagues than with their families. If we are able to create more culturally intelligent workplaces, we will see a more culturally intelligent and compassionate world leading to fewer people losing their jobs because of their social media posts.

Games + AI = Next Generation Talent Development That Works

So, you’re probably thinking, how do we make sure that employees feel comfortable becoming more culturally intelligent and able to recognize for themselves the areas where they need development? In a word: games.

Games help us disappoint our guards. At the start of a game, we all agree to follow the rules. In the New York Times article Why do people like games? Sam Von Ehren explains how rules of the game disarm us. He says, “We faithfully abide by these agreements and rules, committing ourselves to the game and executing it with little hesitation. Game designers call this alternate state of being ‘the magic circle’. Imagine a circle drawn in chalk. drawn on a sidewalk When we are in debt we ‘play’ the game We only do what the rules allow We will try to win When the game ends we exit the circle and return to normal The magic circle is what separates a game from reality.”

When playing games, we all start on an equal footing. Each of us has a chance to win, and as humans we all have a desire to win. However, some are more competitive than others. Games are about the luck of the draw. They allow us to be free while still having an element of control.

Games are also a trigger for learning and growth. Psychology-based games that emphasize storytelling raise awareness of areas in need of development, while AI collects the best educational content to help employees achieve their learning goals.

Psychology-based games eliminate the need to create or dig for the content, while simultaneously challenging your thinking and boosting your skills. Randomization, failure to prepare, and the ambiguity of these team-based web-based games played in person or via video bring out authenticity in players. While playing, a lot about themselves and others are revealed.

Competitive games that award points based on how open, honest and vulnerable you are help people think about themselves, recognize where development is needed, improve their interpersonal skills and maximize their cultural intelligence in the workplace. Learning requires reflection. We often don’t realize how much we learn while playing until we’ve thought about it. Games help us determine where we can grow further at any given time.

Games can help us realize areas where we need development, but what about training and resources? As mentioned before, content does exist, but it’s challenging to search through and find the right content to achieve the right goal. Today, Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI that gives machines the ability to read and interpret human language, uses gameplay results to deliver the perfect content for your learning style right to you. You no longer have to search through millions of courses. You can connect to any training content database and get the perfect content without a single search.

Technology allows us to track and measure the impact of psychology-based games on individuals and groups. We can use games to collect impact data in some of the most difficult areas to measure, including cultural intelligence, engagement, team dynamics, innovation and job satisfaction. This data can be analyzed at the industry, company, and all the way down to the job team level.

Impact is important, and the will to learn and grow is necessary to create impact. We need to evoke fun, play and humanity in our tech workplace solutions to see the positive impact and behavioral changes we want to see. The combination of games and AI offers both.

Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks is CEO of KeepWOL.

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This post Using games and AI to maximize cultural intelligence in the workplace

was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/25/leveraging-games-and-ai-to-maximize-cultural-intelligence-in-the-workplace/”