King IPO Disappoints. Here’s the Lesson.

King, who brought us the completely addicting Candy Crush, filed for their IPO yesterday.  It was not what you might call a success.  Day two did not start off better.  How could anyone have seen this coming?

King is, at this point, a one-trick pony. Not the kind of thing upon which successful companies are built.  Have you tried their other games?  Even worse, have you gone more than a week away from Candy Crush and actually missed it?  Didn’t think so.

What we see here is the flawed thinking that because people enjoy something, they will be willing to invest in it.  Sometimes it is true.  I’d gladly invest my own money for an Iron Man suit.  Or to hang out with Robert Downey Jr. for a few hours.  But I’m not likely to invest in a time-filler game that I’ve never spent a dime on.  Yes, there is revenue coming from in-app purchases.  But it doesn’t cry out as a long term upside like facebook or Twitter.  Long term being relative, I guess.

The lesson for the HR community (because you knew there was going to be one, right?) is that just because employees enjoy something doesn’t mean you can turn it into a program and expect instant success.  I’m thinking specifically about all those Employee Wellness programs that are rolled out to much fanfare and little response.  People love being outside!  We have three softball teams!  Why don’t employees want our program?

There is a huge difference psychologically between choosing to be active and being paid, essentially, to be active.  One is fun, the other is an obligation.  And people do not, in general, appreciate being bossed around.  That’s why even when you have employees who are active, they resist the idea of a wellness program.  That’s what limits adoption in many cases.

How do you fix it?  It varies by culture, of course, but one suggestion is to let the employees run the program.  Too often, the HR MANDATE is immediately looked upon with suspicion, just because of the source.  But an employee designed and led program that can help reduce insurance costs?  Say, that sounds a whole lot better!  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make sure the programs are easy to use and don’t require much in the way of tracking, logging, journaling, or writing-downing.

Give the people what they want.  Don’t ask them to buy into your own personal Candy Crush.

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