When VR and HR Converge: How Virtual Reality Could Change The Human Resources Game

Kevin Cain

Although virtual reality (VR) has been around in one form or another for decades, until recently it seemed more like science fiction than a tool with the potential to become a part of our daily lives. And yet over the last few years, that has all started to change. The release of Oculus Rift headset, for example, garnered tremendous attention, bringing renewed public and private interest to the technology. Meanwhile last year’s Pokmon Go craze, which uses augmented reality (VR’s little brother), added even more fuel to the fire.

Today, virtual reality is a booming business and one that’s set to become part of a $15 billion industry by 2022. And while much of the VR hype in recent years has been around consumer applications like gaming, the reality is that it also has the potential to be a powerful business tool. That’s particularly true when it comes to HR, where it has a number of interesting potential applications.

Bringing VR to HR

For today’s human resources teams, virtual reality could be an effective way to nurture higher levels of engagement, increase productivity and drive greater efficiencies. There are three main ways that it’s poised to do so:

1. Recruiting

One of the biggest hurdles in recruiting is providing candidates with a sense of what it’s like to be a part of your organization. And while they can get some idea of what working for your company is like by coming to your offices in person, that post-interview two-minute office tour you’ve been perfecting may not be enough.

Virtual reality offers a solution. You can invite candidates to experience your company culture on their own time and from the comfort of their home. Doing so not only saves hiring managers time and energy, it also cultivates a rich experience that accurately reflects why your company is such a great place to work. Plus, if you’re looking for a wow factor, creating a VR experience for candidates is sure to pack a big punch and help get them excited about working for your business.

2. Onboarding

Onboarding can be a tedious process. That’s true both for the HR staff responsible for executing onboarding programs and for the new employees who have to sit through them. Hours spent filling out paperwork or reviewing PowerPoint presentations about company policies and procedures don’t necessarily motivate employees or set them up for success.

With VR, however, you could not only automate a lot of the onboarding process, but also create a rich, dynamic experience designed to engage your employees. Imagine, for example, if your CEO and other C-level executives had the opportunity to introduce themselves and offer a personal welcome. Or what if you could give each employee a guided tour of your facilities or present an interactive experience to convey the past, present and future story of your business? Either way, it represents a quantum leap forward in terms of engaging new employees and starting them off on the right foot.

3. Training

Another big opportunity for virtual reality comes in the form of training. With VR you can simulate realistic scenarios in which people can learn with no consequences if they make a mistake. For instance, you could train a customer service representative on how to deal with a disgruntled customer or teach a pilot how to navigate the latest commercial airplanes. Make a mistake and you simply start over again and keep practicing until you get it right. NASA, for example, has been using VR to train its astronauts for some time. In fact, NASA astronauts have already been to Mars (with VR), learning how to operate rovers using the Oculus Rift.

Other training applications may be much less technical. Some companies see opportunities to develop much more engaging HR training experiences around topics like diversity and sexual harassment, where employees are exposed to first-hand experiences through virtual reality to help them better understand common workplace issues.

VR Is Poised to Empower HR

Another big HR win that virtual reality presents is being able to engage remote workers who may otherwise never come to your office. With the right VR experience, they could easily be made to feel like they’re physically in your office, even if they’re working remotely on the other side of the world.

While virtual reality is just in its infancy in terms of becoming a widespread business tool, savvy companies will increasingly use it to help differentiate themselves. For the HR function, in particular, this technology represents an exciting opportunity to find new ways to engage current and prospective employees.

To learn more about how independent specialists or a boutique firms can help your HR team execute on strategic programs using the latest technological advancements, download our whitepaper on winning with an agile workforce.