Human Resources News & Insights

5 tips to prevent Pokemon Go from sapping workplace productivity

If you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go by now you’ve possibly been living in an isolated mountain cabin for the past few weeks. The game, released as an app for mobile devices, is considered an augmented reality game where players can walk around and capture digital creatures. 

Ever since Pokemon Go’s early release this July, the game has been headlining almost every news outlet, from feel good stories like shelters using the game to promote walking their dogs to unfortunate accidents such as two men who didn’t pay attention to the cliff they were walking toward (don’t worry: they only sustained minor injuries).

If it hasn’t already, the game may negatively impact your workplace and cause productivity levels to drop or potential security breaches. There’s already been one instance where an Australian worker was fired, and that was just for his rant about being frustrated with the game.

Even SHRM has felt the need to publish a report on the game, advising employers not to use the game as a team building exercise due to the potential for an employee to be hurt and the company to be culpable for the injury.

So what can you do to protect employees and get them to prioritize work over Pokemon?

Get everyone on the same page

  1. Look over the employee handbook. The same rules that apply to other games and social media networking during work hours should also apply to Pokemon Go. And if your company has provided employees work phones, ask IT if it’s possible to limit the ability to download certain applications.
  2. Make sure Doug from IT doesn’t run over Mary from Marketing. Employees may have to be reminded of the dangers of driving or walking when distracted, especially in the parking lot. There’s been reports of Pokemon Go players driving while playing already, and these Baltimore cops didn’t just let things slide when a player side-swept their parked cruiser.
  3. Apply policies consistently. If you already have gaming covered in your handbook, great! As always, it’s a matter of making sure the rule is consistently applied. You don’t want a manager allowing a certain game because he happens to play it too or wants to use it in a team building exercise.
  4. Put up signage. This is primarily to warn off trespassers, which has also become a problem as players aren’t using common sense when investigating certain areas for pokemon — like nuclear reactors. The signage may also serve as a warning to employees that there’s an inherent safety concern while playing the game, like luring people out as targets of theft.
  5. Train managers for Pokemon Go responses. Get managers on the same page with sample scripts they should use when they find a wandering employee. This can also help solidify the company’s overall stance on gaming. At the same time, make sure managers are leading by example by not playing the game during work hours.

In the end, it’s a game craze that’s literally sweeping the world by storm. It should be treated in the workplace for what it is — something fun that may encourage social interaction with co-workers, but should be played during non-work hours.

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