Using virtual reality technology in an organization may seem futuristic. But VR is quite well established; current technology systems exist and are readily available for implementation. In the virtual world of 2020, businesses have an opportunity to leverage VR to serve a wide array of functions.
But with an exciting albeit not well-understood emerging technology like VR, where should a business start? It turns out HR is a safe place to establish a pilot virtual reality strategy.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the applications of virtual reality to human resources. We will focus on both benefits and potential return on investment of implementing such systems.
“Employees are a company’s most valuable asset.”
To stay modern, HR leaders have a responsibility to invest in the best tools for their employees.
From the initial job application up to an employee’s daily experience post-hire, VR will change the employee journey.
If HR leaders can learn anything from their own workforce, its that employees crave a modernized work experience. A big part of this is making sure your employees have the latest and greatest tools. Its likely that employee adoption of VR will be quite rapid, since its intuitive and easy to use. Technology companies like STRIVR are building VR tools oriented around the business user.
With a strategic up front investment in time and resources, companies may see long term benefits including:
- reduce travel expenses
- reduce costs
- save time
- enable employee flexibility
- enhance productivity
- increase efficiency,
Many human resources departments are taking steps in VR. Let’s look at a few HR processes where you have he potential to leverage VR today:
VR in HR in 2020
Interviews & Candidate Screening:
the benefits: By leveraging VR to screen candidates and conduct interviews remotely, firms will benefit by minimizing travel expenses without sacrificing sense of personal connection.
During the candidate screening process, VR will foster a collaborative and interactive environment for prospective employees to meet with recruiters and hiring managers. VR may allow candidates to work out problems in front of the interviewer in ways that we cannot yet imagine. Additionally, group interview sessions could be done remotely while maintaining the personal and collaborative feel that an in-person interview would have.
As opposed to phone or email exchange, VR may make the subtleties of person-to-person interaction more fluid and natural, taking body language and other non-verbal communication into context.
Although VR may seem rare today, comparative technology to conduct video interviews is being used by many companies. Software like HireVue makes this possible by organizing video interviews with candidates. Virtual reality would only enhance the immersive experience of video, which is already used by candidates and hiring managers alike.
Similar to the video interview tools out on the market, a virtual reality system would be integrated within the applicant tracking system or core HRIS with minimal burden on IT teams.
the benefits: By providing candidates with pre-hire tours, companies will ensure they are portraying the right brand message.
To attract the best people to join their teams, companies must differentiate themselves. Virtual reality provides an opportunity to prove that they are modern and high tech.
Virtual reality is the closest thing you can get to experiencing something, without actually doing it. A virtual tour of the office could give the employee a better sense for the workplace culture, and what it will actually be like working for a particular firm. In addition to info sessions and career fairs, virtual office tours could be used as a method of familiarizing candidates with the company culture. Come companies offer online 3-D tours of office amenities and training areas. The job market is hot. The unemployment rate is at an all time low – 3.6% as of May 2019. The best applicants are selective and often receive multiple job offers. Aside from the common offerings (competitive pay, benefits, development, flexibility, etc.) employers may find it valuable to provide a virtual experience of the actual day to day job. Rather than just hearing about the job opportunity, candidates could actually feel themselves doing the job with VR.
the benefits: speed up employee time to productivity.
How long does it take your new hires to reach proficiency in their jobs? How much productivity is lost between the time from when they accept the offer letter to the time that they are actually doing productive work for your business? How long is your onboarding process? These are just a few questions HR teams ask themselves, especially when companies hire large cohorts of people. Optimizing the post-hire processes can help ensure quick time to productivity. Your CFO will be glad to hear that your employees can get started on their actual jobs more quickly, ultimately contributing to your company’s profitability and bottom line. Developing a type of self-paced e-learning with VR could simply supplement what companies are currently doing with their learning management system.
Includes the employee training process, could be linked within your Learning Management System.
With the self-paced and module based training courses, VR in addition to videos may help employees to learn more quickly. Which brings us to our next topic of VR in HR disruption, learning management. More on that below.
Learning and Development:
the benefits: continuous, on-demand employee training.
Flight simulators already exist that offer pilots in training with the opportunity to perfect their skills before the danger of a live environment. Similarly, other types of employees, such as bridge construction workers that perform tasks on underwater bridge supports while scuba diving, experience potentially dangerous work situations. To ensure the employees are practiced, ready, and know what to expect, simulation of work environments could be developed such that they can better prepare themselves for the job. In this scenario, incorporating a mixed reality experience may even make sense.
the benefits: by leveraging AR type tools to make work engaging and motivating, companies may increase employee productivity.
Here’s where we can use our imagination even more, and where understanding what types of things Video Game systems have already done will help us understand what’s actually possible. In a physical-labor intensive job in high school, I had the task of loading equipment and supplies from a warehouse into the back of large semi-truck trailers. The hours were long, the pay was good, and it was quite a workout to say the least. Imagine warehouse workers, like me, who are tasked with the repetitive task of loading trailer after trailer, could do so in a virtualized gaming world. Imagine the workers could wear a headset, and become immersed in a tetris-like environment where they are no longer simply loading boxes and supplies into a truck, but are playing a game in real-time with various graphics, information, and instructions being displayed to them during their entire workday. Incentives could be pushed in the form of in-game rewards or something similar to help them stay motivated. Beyond the work and the game itself, the game could serve as a platform fostering greater employee collaboration, feedback, and performance.
Health & Wellness:
the benefits: keep employees happy and productive by providing employee escapism & mini-vacations.
The “R” in VR. Reality. We shouldn’t take this word lightly. The immersiveness of VR often makes the user feel that their experience is truly real. As the saying goes, “perception is your own reality”. If someone has an experience, and barring logic of knowing that they are wearing a VR headset, it feels real to that person, is the impact it has on them not close to the impact that the real life experience would have?
All humans encounter and experience stress. Its a fact of life, and some stress is good. But having time to relax is also important. By providing a meditative like experience through Virtual Reality to break up the continuation of a stressful work environment, companies could foster employee wellness. By giving employees a relaxing mini-vacation at their desks, how much might employee productivity be increased?
the benefits: remote work more personal.
Similar to the case with interviews, VR tools could allow teams located in different areas to communicate and collaborate as if they were in the same room. The goal is to replicate the natural feeling of presence you have during a standard in-person meeting.
We’ve covered the potential ways that virtual reality could change and improve the employee experience.
Businesses leaders must consider the question of how they will establish an advantage over competition by staying ahead. Adopting virtual reality technology to supplement their HRIS might just be one way to do so.
As we’ve shown, employees have a tendency to embrace and consume the latest and greatest technology in the workplace. Improvements in monitor screens, ergonomic mice, automated standing desks, etc just make the employees day more comfortable and immersive.
Interested in implementing VR in your own company or organization? If you’re looking for assistance calculating an ROI, please feel free to let Abstract Realization know here, we’d love to hear your thoughts.