Brace yourself HR! Virtual Reality is coming!

 

Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming. - Mark Zuckerberg

What’s the most difficult task while interviewing a candidate in the disruptive environment of the digital age?

It’s making the candidate understand what he’s getting into, what will be his exact job role, and what kind of challenges his profile will offer him. A lot of candidates, especially freshers, sometimes don’t understand the gravity of the role they are applying for. At the same time, jobs offering good office locations aren’t able to leverage all their positives on a small job poster or even in a corporate movie.

In a recent announcement, a global restaurant chain, KFC introduced a Virtual Reality-based training mechanism for its employees in the United States. The restaurant designed a VR-based program via Oculus Rift headsets. The program guides the trainees as they use the Original Recipe to make the KFC signature fried chicken. Once they have executed the ‘five-step cooking process’ virtually they need to use to their disembodied hands to escape out of the virtual room. This gamification of the entire process has helped the brand keep their employees excited about their work.

Other than that, one of the biggest benefits that the brand has is it helps save time and, more importantly, since the candidates are learning virtually, there’s no wastage of products during the training. According to a KFC spokesperson, “The game is intended to supplement the existing Chicken Mastery program, not replace it...This is intended to be a fun way to celebrate the work KFC’s more than 19,000 cooks do every day in every restaurant across the U.S. in an engaging way.”

Why think the VR way?

Virtual Reality-based training has been proven to be more effective than video-based training. The technology increases the engagement level of employees and reduces bias. Accompanied by gamification, VR helps employees settle better and learn while having fun. This really helps the beginners to understand the nature of their job well.

Here’s an interesting video by Capp, a renowned name in Virtual Reality for the HRtech domain.

Retail giant and United States’ biggest employer, Walmart has tied with leading VR firm, STRIVR to design a training module for its associates. The training program aims to help Walmart employees prepare for tough days. It will also have provisions for the store managers and facilitate their virtual visit at each other’s store to learn and gain new perspectives. Walmart is currently rolling out VR-based learning modules in its 30 Walmart Academy training centers and aims to deploy it in all 200 facilities by the end of 2017. The technology will touch more than 1,40,000 Walmart Associates in this year.

Tom Ward, Vice President of Central Operations, Walmart U.S, sums up the relief STRIVR has brought: “Imagine being a new assistant manager having never worked in a Wal-Mart before. How on earth do you prepare somebody for the holiday peak season, that rush of a busy store and all of the action going around you? With this we can really prepare these leaders.”

Making employees your first customer with Virtual Reality

A lot of companies are using Virtual Reality to help their prospective employees understand their culture, their workplaces, and a lot more.This helps them build a positive image of the brand and the role thus increased retention levels for employers. In a lot of instances, Virtual Reality is seen as a perk by prospective candidates. For example, Honeygrow, a leading restaurant chain, allows its candidates to take a VR tour of its restaurants and play a customized game based on food-safety skills in their first two days of training.

Not just this, the U.S. Navy recently deployed Virtual Reality in its recruitment efforts and it leads to a 126% increase in leads. Even, the British Army reported having a similar experience.

The success of Virtual Reality-led recruitment is explained by renown VR Analyst at Canalys, Jason Low. He says, “New tools such as VR … can increase employee engagement and satisfaction, especially if the tools can help them to improve quickly and make their jobs easier,”  He further adds, “Tools such as VR are not common, and employees are likely to take this as a perk.”

Virtual Reality for hazard training

While a lot of organizations are deploying Virtual Reality to make their brands look good, there are some players who are doing quite the opposite. A U.K.-based VR company, Holovis is providing a “Near Miss” Simulator which has the capability of creating non-compliant and unsafe conditions. According to company’s CEO, Stuart Hetherington, “Simulation can demonstrate in a dramatic and highly realistic way the consequences, delivered with true impact.” The idea of having a facility like this is to help employees understand the consequences of unwanted behavior. The success rate can be determined by the premium clientele which it currently has, which includes coveted names like Coca-Cola, Hyundai and much more.

Solutions like that of Holovis are actually great for organizations, especially for manufacturing or construction units with real hazards. Organizations can train their employees to be careful in controlled environments and ensure their safety.

Virtual Reality for Diversity

Most of the industry leaders accept that Diversity and Inclusion is one of their primary concerns. While a few organizations have already made their move in the direction of gender diversity, LGBTQ (Read - Creating LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces through automated hiringand Differently-abled inclusion is a far-fledged dream for most of the Fortune 500 companies. Scientific research has claimed that VR can help reduce implicit bias (also known as unconscious bias). This is indeed a win-win situation for employers as well as job-seekers.

Columbia University’s Social work department collaborated with Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, led by Jeremy Bailenson, to create the 1000 Cut Journey, a Virtual Reality project. They are using the HTC Vive Virtual Reality Headset and the user gets into a body of a black man, Michael Sterling, and he gets to live four different stages of his life. The VR here closely shows the racism faced by the man and has a huge impact on the user and his unconscious bias against a race. Organizations working on diversity initiatives can deploy projects to increase empathy and acceptability among their employees. They can even create similar projects to increase awareness and acceptance for LGBTQ community, which is facing discrimination globally. Because as Chris Milk says

“Virtual reality is the 'ultimate empathy machine.' These experiences are more than documentaries. They're opportunities to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.”

Virtual Reality is a powerful tool and surely a technology that’s here to stay. It has already started showing a mark in recruitment, learning, and development. The wise will adopt it before it disrupts them. We hope that you are on the side which embraces it for good.   

 

About the Author

Arpit Mishra
Avid book reading advocate. Hardcore travel nerd. Technology freak. Subscribe to more updates and new blogs for upcoming articles.
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