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 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
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.
Is Virtual Reality the Future of Human Resources?
Virtual Reality is an umbrella term that comes in many forms: augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and extended reality. Each form of VR provides the user with a sense of immersion at varying degrees. When you factor in the possibility of sensory input beyond just visual and auditory, that VR continuum of possibility extends even further.
While the idea of experiencing a virtual world may sound like science fiction, virtual reality experiences in 2019 are very much available at the consumer level.
What About Enterprise VR?
Arguably, the best place to experience state of the art Virtual Reality is an industry in which most HR practitioners wouldn’t expect to find themselves: video games. In terms of VR tech, video game companies are like ultra-marathon runners in a 5K race.
Gaming devices such as Oculus, HTC Vive, or Playstation possess capabilities that dramatically outpace a layperson’s expectations. These VR gaming systems are so good that the technology is now being adopted outside of the game industry for which it was originally designed.
Human resources is just one of those places where VR is being adopted.
Although our focus is the enterprise application of VR for HR, I do recommend HR practitioners at least look into how video games have thrived with VR technology. Doing so will help understand a bit more about what to expect with VR for HR as technology improves.
Passionate human resource practitioners understand that at its core, HR is about a company’s most critical asset: people.
This post focuses on employee adoption of technology. An understanding of how employees adopt technology will help us understand how an enterprise VR implementation might go over inside an actual organization.
First, Put Yourself inside Your Employee’s Cube:
To begin, picture an office-style workplace environment. Within a cubicle or office, workers sit in ergonomic adjustable chairs. Often, desks move up or down, offering “standing desk” capability.
These employees do most of their work on a laptop computer. The laptop’s display is often extended to two or more additional monitors. Many employees wear expensive noise-cancelling headphones.
With LCD screens surrounding the field of vision and headphones drowning out distractions, the employee’s sensibility to the outside world is almost removed. They see and hear little outside of digital notifications. Lounging in an environment of comfort and focused knowledge work, the modern workplace has already become somewhat of a virtual world.
But let’s hope our employees don’t get too immersed in their cubicles, its important get move around the office. Innovations in interior design and office furniture give employees unique zones to conduct their business that didn’t exist years ago. Soundproof pods, for instance, allow the employees to make phone calls free of colleague earshot.
Employees Welcome Tech With Open Arms
According to bls.gov, the average full time M-F worker spends about 8.5 hours working per day. A 40+ hour work week means employees spend close to more time in the office during waking hours than they do at home.
Its no secret that newer technology tends toward more and more of an immersive experience. More immersive tech means we are more tuned-in to do our jobs; by-and-large, employees love it.
Say what you will about the addictive nature of internet access via cell phones and computers, as technology becomes available to employees in the workplace, you can be confident that it will be greeted with open arms. Employees adopt workplace technology at an alarmingly fast pace.
Curved monitors are now quite common in some offices; where there is an option, desks that lack curved monitors are abandoned. After experiencing newer and better technology, the former feels obsolete. Humans crave the new, the novel, and the innovative. Modern workers won’t stand to revert to a more elementary desktop display. This fact of human nature is exemplified nowhere stronger than in the location where we make our livelihoods: the workplace.
We can expect the office environment to become more immersive. Virtual reality – in whatever form you can imagine – will play no small role in this trend.
Productive Organizations Using Virtual Reality in Human Resources
There are 9 different companies that are using virtual reality for human resources. We’ll discuss the benefits these companies have realized by implementing VR in HR and other parts of the enterprise, which include:
– reduce travel expenses
– reduce costs
– save time
– enable employee flexibility
– enhance productivity
– increase efficiency, and more.
We hope this post helps you decide if VR is right for your business.
Examples of Enterprise VR for HR:
This post will cover a few companies that have implemented virtual reality into their current processes and systems.
1. Deutsche Bahn
German Railway company Deutsche Bahn employed a large population of employees set to retire within a few years. The company was hiring aggressively, and needed a way to train all these new employees. As a railway company, equipment and machinery is heavy and expensive – there isn’t an easy way to bring it into the classroom. The company built 360-degree VR experiences with the help of a few 3rd party startups. “This lets technicians practice how to assemble switch locks and troubleshoot problems with switches”, stated the Deutsche Bahn website. The company also mentions that an augmented-reality system can be used to guide even their more experienced employees through complex repair processes to speed up procedures. In addition to training, the company sets up VR headsets at job fairs, trips, and interviews. This enables recruiters to present immersive experiences to attract prospective candidates.
Walmart, which is the nation’s largest private employer, has installed Oculus Go headsets into their 4,600 U.S. stores. VR helps understand how an employee accomplishes a task in a virtual setting. Managers are able to gain insight into employee skills and understand how employees handle everyday scenarios, which include managing sections of the store or preparing for busy season. This helps determine who gets raises and promoted to management roles. Walmart’s goal is to reduce turnover as well as limit decision bias in hiring to increase diversity. STRIVR, company based in silicon valley, builds the VR simulations.
3. The British Army
VR helps soldiers of the British Army familiarize themselves with aspects of combat before going through actual training. VR is used for vehicle, flight, and battlefield simulation, medic training, and even a virtual boot camp. Leveraging VR allows the British Army to save money. VR is a cheaper way to train soldiers on certain processes before doing them in real life. Visualizing and going through proper procedures and techniques in a virtual environment minimizes the use of costly resources such as fuel and supplies. Avatars within the simulation are designed to display true facial features such that soldiers can recognize each other, allowing soldiers to function as a team. Data capture and analysis allow soldiers to review and improve their performance. The virtual training is developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BiSim).
4. Kentucky Fried Chicken
KFC is using the technology to teach employees how to cook fried chicken. The company did so by partnering with Oculus, to build an escape-room themed game where employees learn how to cook chicken the hard way. Although the game has received mixed reviews, the description states that “this was the clearest way to communicate exactly what is expected when it comes to making his fried chicken.” Say what you will about the overlap of VR technology and cooking chicken – one thing is for sure – there are few better ways to satisfy your hunger than stopping by KFC.
5. Lowe’s Home Improvement
Lowe’s developed a VR application at their Lowe’s Innovation Labs to make home improvement projects simple and seamless for the customer. The virtual experience allowed customers to walk through and learn how to accomplish DIY projects, such as tiling a shower. According to Lowe’s, going through such a project in virtual reality helped people reach memory performance levels comparable to someone with more experience. It can be hypothesized that VR has a measurable impact on humans ability to learn. By giving inexperienced customers the confidence to take on a DIY project, Lowe’s stands to sell more products and increase revenue.
6. Hilton Worldwide
Hilton is using VR for virtual employee training. Hilton’s goal was to improve communication between customers and staff. To do so, they developed VR system that replicates real-life customer reactions to different scenarios. This helped employees develop the interpersonal skills needed to foster positive customer interactions. Beyond customer interaction, Hilton also piloted a conflict resolution program to help employees become more skilled at service recovery. One of the challenges of rolling out the service, it seems, is localization. Since Hilton has properties across the world, the VR must be catered to many different languages.
Samsung needed to make training at their production more efficient and less costly. The employee experience during training includes a headset as well as a handheld controller that mimics a tool that allows the employee to work through the mock manufacturing processes. For Samsung, the bonus is that they actually make the hardware: phones to be viewed on VR headsets.
VW uses the HTC Vive virtual reality system to assist with train 10,000 employees in the production and logistics teams in order to increase productivity and efficiency. With VR training, employees can learn at their own pace, and the company avoids costly travel expenses. VR is also scalable. So far, the company’s VR lessons include vehicle assembly, new team member training, and customer service.
In addition to employee training, VW uses VR technology for prototyping. The product team is able to construct virtual car parts that can be built in real life after being perfected. Building virtual prototypes has a few advantages over physical ones – often, virtual is faster, cheaper, and easier to tweak. It also allows designers to communicate and share ideas with engineering and others on the development team.
NBC broadcasted a number of hours of the Rio Summer Olympics as well as the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in VR. The events included opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, big air, and fencing. The NBC team has partnered with Intel and Samsung to broadcast these past events.
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