Virtual Reality (VR) has evolved to an extent that VR devices are now being treated as consumer electronics, and not high-end technologies reserved for high-end space programs or expensive surgeries. The truth is VR has moved beyond gaming to enter the enterprise space like never before. To put this into perspective – a Google Cardboard only costs $15, Oculus Rift is priced at $399 and HTC Vive at $599. With this rapid consumerization of VR technology, one can only imagine how creatively (and without spending a lot of money) organizations can leverage this immersive technology. In this article, we look at how HR can leverage virtual reality.
What if remotely-located candidates could be immersed in an interview room experience with the management? An experience that could not be possibly replicated over a hangouts meet or skype conference, Virtual Reality makes it possible for a business to rightly assess a candidate’s ability in pressure situations. After all, a virtual interview room is expected to test an individual’s ability to perform in pressure situations compared with answering questions in the comfort of his/her living room.
Companies are also using Virtual Reality for skill assessments. For instance, Jaguar Land Rover used Gorillaz’s mixed reality app to conduct assessments of engineer talent. The app immersed the candidates in the Land Rover recruitment area and asked them to crack the code in Alternate Reality Game format. In an age where top talent is a premium, VR can help attract top campus talent. Instead of run-of-the-mill presentations, campus recruitment teams can entice candidates by showcasing what life in the organization really looks like, and even help them visualize how their day at work would look like. TOYOTA High System has been using InstaVR for organizing immersive office tours to increase the interest of campus talent to work for the company.
Employer branding is another area where VR can be useful. Giving both passive and active jobseekers a feel of how working for the organization would be can prove to be an effective attraction technique. British Army has been using VR to give candidates the experience of combat training, adventure training, tank training, and parachute training. The experiences were posted on YouTube 360, and anyone with a VR headset could immerse in that environment. The result – a 65% increase in applications in the first month and 41% in the second month.
A decision to stay in a company long-term is made within the first six months of the job, according to research by Aberdeen Group. This is enough evidence to underscore the criticality of giving a great onboarding experience to employees when they initially join. Induction meetings can be replaced with experiencing the organization and its policies virtually – work culture, ethics, and values of the organization, and the work in itself are best understood when one is immersed in that environment and experiences it – a printed brochure in principle may not have that same effect. A new engineer in GE experiences the company’s oil and gas recovery machines at the bottom of the ocean, and the functioning of nuclear plants first-hand. All of this is made possible using VR!
VR is especially useful for acclimatizing new joiners to high-risk jobs. For instance, firefighters can be given the first-hand experience of tackling large blazes of fire. There is no danger of getting injured, but at the same time, the virtual environment gives them a close-to-reality experience of how it would be when they step out to stop a fire the first time. Pilots, too, can prepare by being immersed in virtual environments and practice how to deal with adverse situations.
Learning and development
The L&D function can also leverage Virtual Reality technology to both make training efficient and engaging. Efficient – by eliminating the need of trainers in every location. Trainers can be present in one location, and the rest of the employees can join virtually by putting on VR headgears. An employee in Singapore City can virtually attend the same training session as an employee in New Delhi, at the exact same time – and not just attend, but be present in the training room (as opposed to watching the live stream). Being immersed in a training environment would also supposedly have a positive impact on attention spans of employees, and their engagement levels. VR helps the organization to reach employees in locations where they earlier wouldn’t, thus making L&D inclusive.
Real-life training sessions can be made possible using VR. It is not only useful for high-risk training like Army combats or flying airplanes but also can be effective tools in putting employees in pressure situations and developing their abilities. For instance, while training managers for conducting performance conversations, Virtual Reality can place them in a conference room, in front of a virtual reportee, and the whole conversation can be simulated. This tests their ability to apply the theoretical lessons learned from the coach in a real-life situation, and at the same time allows the human resources department to review their conduct during the simulation.
The possibilities of the technology are endless, and as it gains in popularity, it is only going to get more cost-effective for businesses. As a technology, Virtual Reality is scalable and can be used multiple times in different geographies. This investment in technology and set up can easily be repaid in savings from trainer costs, travel costs, etc. It is up to companies to decide how much the benefits outweigh the cost – an analysis which might be worth doing!
To know more about how virtual reality is helping organizations redefine recruitment, learning, and onboarding, register for TechHR Singapore 2019 on February 28, 2019.