As the Pokémon Go augmented reality game swept the U.S. this summer, employers scrambled to keep employee attention at a time when millions were playing-often during work hours.”The mobile nature of the game threatens to hinder productivity and raises concerns about worker safety and employer liability,” writes Dana Wilkie for Society for Human Resource Management.

 

So how should employers manage the distraction? Here are the suggestions:

 

  1. 1. Enforce policies about working during work time
  2. Look to your employee handbook for guidance-does it cover gaming or social media? Can you find a way a the way to limit the app’s use on business devices.

 

  1. “If your company provides work phones, ask IT about possibly limiting downloads of certain applications,” writes Lauren Stead of HR Morning. “The game poses information security threats, and players could unintentionally be taking photos of sensitive and confidential information. Once you’re set on your rules, don’t make exceptions,” writes Stead.

 

    1. Apply policies consistently,” she writes. “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 to or wants to use it as a team building exercise.”

 

  1. 2. Keep work expectations high
  2. Your employees likely care deeply about catching ‘Pikachu’, but make it clear your expectations for their work haven’t changed.

 

    1. “Prioritize performance over Pokémon,” writes Tom Stamer for HR Drive. “Start watching employees’ timelines and attendance with greater attention than usual in the coming weeks. Also, follow on even small delays in work/task completion, while the Pokémon Go Craze is still the flavor of the month.”
    1. And, empower managers to tell employees to stop playing when they should be working. Give them a script. “And be sure to emphasize that managers not set the wrong examples themselves, by playing Pokémon Go during work hours, for instance,” Stamer writes.

 

 

  1. 3. Pay attention to employees’ need to socialize
  2. “Conversations about Pokémon Go in the workplace often includes notes that it has employees out of their desks and socializing with those they might not often encounter. If that’s the case, perhaps you need to be addressing your company’s culture,” Wilkie writes.

 

  1. “This phenomenon points to pent-up demand for a more social and motivated workforce,” she writes, quoting national workplace expert Lynn Taylor. “Now more than ever, in a time where technology has also increased the pace and expectations for workers, there must be balance. The takeaway is to analyze why the demand is so great. How might greater social interaction, fun, humor, mystery and technology be combined and used in a way that is related to work?”