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3 Things Leaders Can Learn from Pokémon GO

3 Things Leaders Can Learn from Pokémon GO

The world is full of gut wrenching and heart breaking news recently that it is quite ironic to see something not serious captivate our attention. I am talking about Pokémon GO. As an observer on trends in our workplaces, believe it or not there are some key workplace effectiveness and employee engagement factors we can draw out of this crazy phenomenon.

For those who are out of the loop of this new game that has virtually taken over the world in a few short days here is what it is in a nutshell. Pokémon GO is a new app that overlays digital creatures in our everyday reality displayed on our smartphones. The game allows players to capture as many virtual creatures that they can find, train and battle them. The addictive game essentially causes people to walk around anywhere with their smart phone in hand.

Savvy HR and business leaders should take note of these 3 observations:

1.Embracing technology is paramount to future engagement endeavors.

“Millennials are first-generational digital natives who feel at home with the internet” Gallup in its “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” report. They would prefer to get their news and updates via the internet utilizing smart phones and/or tablets. If we are to engage our future generations embracing technology is not an option, but an absolute must.

But that’s millennials, what about other generations?

According a Pew Research Center report in October 2015, 68% of US adults have a smartphone, which is up from 35% in 2011. And on the social media front, 65% of adults now use social networking sites, up from 7% in 2005.

In is imperative that leaders look to embrace and adopt technology to attract and retain employees both today and in the future.

2. Chasing phantoms can get you into trouble.

It is reported that two men in their early 20s fell an estimated 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in Encinitas, California, while playing "Pokémon Go." The man sustained injuries but to what extent is unknown. While the app warns users to stay aware of their surroundings there are now increasing reports of people bumping into poles, walking into traffic, and encountering thieves while playing the game.

It is easy to shake our heads and laugh in wonderment that people would lose sight of reality to the point of putting their lives in peril. However, often leaders can get caught up in grabbing onto pet projects and chasing non-essential things down a rabbit hole that really have no positive impact. Ensuring that all programs we put into place or practices we engage in are truly doing what they are intended to do will go along way towards preventing falling over a cliff.

3. Get out of your office or cubicle and GO.

pokemon-go-driveUnbelievably there has been some unintended good that has come out of the Pokémon Go game.

  • Four Pokemon Go players in Cincinnati, Ohio are being hailed as heroes for saving the lives of overdose victims they found while playing the game. They wouldn’t have come across the couple in need of medical assistance (nor anyone else for that matter) had they not been out and about. Story here.
  • A woman playing the game ventured to a park in search of animated creatures. Instead she came across a boy in the park who collapsed and was need of immediate medical care. Story here.
  • In Detroit, Pokemon Go players while on the hunt for animated characters spotted a house deck on fire and called 911. The fire department arrived within minutes and put out the fire. It turns out there was a 10 year flat coat retriever alone in the home that was unharmed. Story here.

There are countless other stories both good and bad as a result of this game. However, one key lesson to learn is that it is best to get out and about in your workplace. Who know what you will uncover while having authentic and meaningful conversations with your employees, customers and vendors.


While this particular games seems like a crazy fad that will go away over time, one thing is certain, how we engage employees in the workplace is a long term discussion that warrants new thinking.


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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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