"You were caught sneaking merchandise out with the garbage. Move back 2 spaces."
It's about 3:30 on the Tuesday before July 4th, and while most desk employees are probably planning their day at the pool or thinking about how many pounds of beef they'll need for the BBQ, I'm sitting here playing an online game. OK, if my boss is reading this, it's actually a 5-minute demo of a loss prevention game that was created by Sealund & Associates Corporation down in St. Pete, Fla. One of our columnists, the ever-analytic Liz Martinez, who writes on issues of loss prevention and retail security for the site, sent this to me and suggested I check it out, so I'm not really playing games....I am, ahem, working.
The game is sort of a neat idea -- it asks common employee honesty and loss prevention questions, and could be something that retail managers would ask their employees to play. If I understand the demo correctly, it doesn't grade the employees; rather it only allows them to move forward along the safari-themed path if they answer questions correctly.
But here's the thing, games need to be competitive (meaning points, rather than simply moving ahead through a board-type layout), and if something is to be used for training purposes, it really should be specifically tailored to your own LP procedures, which it doesn't seem to be.
Additionally, it needs to treat employees like adults, since child labor laws aren't going to allow you to hire 8-year-olds who would like this type of game that seems to belong on the back of a Fruity Pebbles box, filled with images of stampeding elephants and a dangerous lion's den.
And employees shouldn't be insulted with questions either. Take for example the initial question, which asks an employee that if they saw some old staplers near the cash registers and needed one at their home if they should:
1. Take the stapler
2. Resist the temptation of stealing a stapler that could lose them their job for something valued at just a few bucks
3. Take a brand-new stapler, since the store sells new staplers
4. Ask if anyone is using them, and if not, take one home with you.
And then there's the question -- if someone forgot to sign their credit card sales slip and you notice it at the end of the day, should you sign it for them or advise your store/shift manager?
Now maybe the "real" game has better questions that will get employees to look past the Fruity Pebbles mentality of the game, but I wouldn't know. I think an online tutorial for retail employees on the issue of loss prevention is a good thing, but please spare us the simplistic questions and the stampeding elephants. Instead, spend some time to create questions that are truly ethically challenging -- the kind of challenges that good retail employees face everyday.
Of course, if you want to play the game yourself, you can check out the demo. There's a promotional code and the first 100 persons who contact Sealund with that code will earn free access to the game. Enjoy, but beware the jungle's quicksand pit.