In these challenging times we are facing today, it is evident that HR has to adapt to make sure they are still offering services to their employees. To keep up their strategies they need to accommodate everyone’s need to learn and develop remotely.
A new technology that has great potential and advantages to be used for HR people functions in the current climate is virtual reality (VR). Researchers are seeing VR becoming more widely used, and it can really make a big impact in areas such as recruitment and hiring, onboarding and learning and development (Chalmers, 2018).
Overall, there are two main areas that VR can support HR strategy: Assessment and Training. We will now go through these in more detail and how it fits and is delivered in VR.
VR can help companies recruit and select the best people. You can give applicants a real-life insight into the job itself and what it is like to work for that company.
Rather than conducting a situation-based interview asking applicants how they would respond to a specific situation, they are put through a realistic simulation and their behaviour observed. The VR technology allows for higher levels of standardisation and structure as every applicant is presented with exactly the same scenario and environment (Aguinas, Henle & Beaty Jr., 2001).
Introducing VR at the interview stage also adds an extra layer of engagement and interaction compared to standard video interviews (VRE, 2020). Virtual interviews enable you to meet the candidates in a natural VR environment as if you were in the same room and it gives the candidates the opportunity to fully express themselves. They can walk around the room and present as in real life, draw in the air and use the technology as much as they like.
With the challenge of having to design and run online and remote assessment centres, choosing virtual assessment centres can make the experience almost like being in a traditional face-to-face environment. It even goes over and beyond as participants become so immersed in the VR world that they forget to self-monitor and their true behaviours and attitudes are revealed.
The key objective for all selection decisions is making sure we are basing our decision on evidence and data that is comparing applicants in a fair and effective way. Therefore, VR assessment has a key advantage as it can measure a range of variables in an objective and unbiased manner providing us with more accurate interpretation and evaluation.
What can you measure using VR assessment?
- Eye movement using eye-tracking software
- EEG and people’s reactions and brain activity
- Behavioural movements – time, any hesitation
- Biometrics – heart rate and physiological responses
VR is transforming the way training is delivered and now that it is more affordable and accessible it is easy to argue the benefits of investing in VR for HR organisations. Using VR for training increases employee engagement, retention, productivity and risk aversion (Cohen & Gretczko, 2017). It can be used for many different areas such as induction training, team building, leadership and team development, soft skills training, health and safety training and team meetings.
If a role required a lot of on-the-job training, VR can be extremely cost-effective as you are eliminating other costs like trainers, travel and facilities (Chalmers, 2018). Virtual training provides equal access to training across multiple regions, and it is easy to administer for remote workers.
The entire training is self-directed and self-paced where the trainee decides what to focus on and can repeat the training as many times as they like, receiving immediate feedback and review options to watch specific parts again. By receiving immediate feedback, trainees can reflect on their performance, what they did well and what they can improve on. This enhanced opportunity to practice increases training transfer and mastery of skills (Schmid Mast, Kleinlogel, Tur & Bachmann, 2018).
The virtual environment provides a safe space for trainees to try out new behaviours without the risk of being judged. You can train staff on challenging and sensitive subjects such as anti-sexual harassment training and other difficult social interactions at work through role-playing and choosing the appropriate way to react (Kennedy, 2019).
Research has shown that VR training offers significant advantages over traditional training methods (VRE, 2020):
- Higher training transfer
- Significantly faster learning
- Greater knowledge retention
- Greater engagement from users
- Automatic collection of large amounts of useful training data
Virtual Team Building and Leadership Development
Using VR technology for team building is a simple and effective option to connect, maintain and develop teams remotely. It is relevant for all types of teams, not only new teams or team members, but also for teams that have worked together for a long time and need to feel connected. VR can bring everyone together in the same virtual space and conduct highly engaging problem-solving activities and open-ended creativity tasks. These new and engaging methods can tap into a range of key competencies to improve your team’s performance, identify talent, leadership potential and test leadership behaviours, communication and leadership styles.
Virtual Meetings and Collaboration
Another reason why HR should invest in VR, especially at this current time, is the ability to engage remote workers through experiences that make them feel like they are physically in the office (Cain, 2017). Organisations can have meetings in a virtual space, working together in a more natural and collaborative environment compared to video-conferencing platforms. In a virtual meeting room, your team can work with documents and manipulate objects, models and drawings in a completely new and interesting way.
VR technology is becoming more widely popular and accessible across different industries. HR is now already investing in VR to adapt and develop their training and assessment strategy. It provides a rich, interactive and engaging experience that is sure to increase employee’s motivation and interest (Mantovani, Castelnuovo, Gaggioli & Riva, 2003).
HR is now benefiting from the main advantages of VR applications (Haak, 2018):
- Improves the candidate and employee experience
- Scalability – VR solutions are easier to scale up than human solutions
- Improves quality
- Cost efficiency
- Improves company image – innovative approach
These applications of VR in HR will only accelerate and in the rapidly changing world we now live in there will be many innovative HR teams looking to offer their existing services in completely new ways with corresponding benefits.
Aguinas, H., Henle, C. A. & Beaty Jr, J. C. (2001). Virtual Reality Technology: A New Tool for Personnel Selection. International Journal of Selection and Assessment. 9(1-2), 70-83.
Cain, K. (2017). When VR and HR Converge: How Virtual Reality Could Change the Human Resources Game. Catalant. Accessed 29th of September from: https://gocatalant.com/blog/when-vr-and-hr-converge-how-virtual-reality-could-change-the-human-resources-game/
Chalmers, K. (2018). The Future of HR: How HR Can Use Virtual Reality. ICS Learn. Accessed 29th of September from: https://www.icslearn.co.uk/blog/posts/2018/july/the-future-of-hr-how-hr-can-use-virtual-reality/
Cohen, K. & Gretczko, M. (2017). Welcome to reality: It’s not what you think. How virtual reality can broaden experiences and open minds in the HR organization of the future. Deloitte.
Haak, T. (2018). The five-minute read on… embracing VR in HR. Sage People. Accessed 29th of September from: https://www.sagepeople.com/about-us/news-hub/virtual-reality-vr-ar-tips-hr/#
Kennedy, E., CNN Business Reporter (2019). How VR is transforming HR. Business Evolved. Accessed 24th of September from: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/26/tech/vr-transforming-hr-intl-biz-evolved/index.html
Mantovani, F., Catelnuovo, G., Gaggioli, A. & Riva, G. (2003). Virtual Reality Training for Health-Care Professionals. Cyber Psychology & Behavior. 6(4), 389-395.
Schmid Mast, M., Kleinlogel, E. P., Tur, B. & Bachmann, M. (2018). The Future of Interpersonal Skills Development: Immersive Virtual Reality Training with Virtual Humans. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 29(2), 125–141.
Virtual Reality Experiences (VRE). (2020). The VR Training and Assessment Specialists [Brochure]. London, UK.