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HR Trend: Virtual reality in HR

23rd, December 2016
 
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by Frank Roebroek
 
in  Trends in HR
 
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virtual reality in hr

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are booming and more and more organisations are leveraging this technology in HR to increase retention and productivity.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimated VR and AR will be a $150 billion industry by 2022. The technology provides digital experiences with games such as Pokémon Go or reality experiences such as the WTC walk by Philippe Petit. An experience so real and intense many have to give up before they even started the VR experience. But the reality technology is beyond gaming only. NASA uses VR to train their astronauts to walk in space and retailers use AR for consumers to see their potential new couch in their own sitting room before they even bought it. The example in the photo is an animated VR demo training at the HRcoreACADEMY, 2016 in Brussels.

Virtual reality experiences are also a major consumer trend as also described in 2017 consumer trends and opportunities for HR. Not so surprising because reality technology is extremely powerful. It can simulate almost every situation with an almost real life experience.

1.What is VR and AR?

For those who have never experienced VR this youtube video provides you with a first impression. Different than a complete virtual reality environment, augmented reality creates and environment with virtual objects in real images. Pokémon GO is probably the most known example using AR technology. The VR technology already exists for quite some time. The first head mounted display was already developed in 1960. But it is only in the last  decade the reality technology develops so rapidly and fits the consumer expectations more than ever before. The reality technology seems ready to take off.

2.How can virtual reality be applied in HR?

The reality technology can be used to simulate real world scenarios and situations for employees to help them to gain insight and prepare for work situations. This means the possibilities of reality technology in HR are multiple and almost endless. We have chosen three distinct HR areas for application of  reality technology based on fit for purpose and also because we believe for this technology these application areas have the highest value add to the business.

Using VR in on-boarding

Many organisations struggle with on-boarding and suffer the negative effects in retention and productivity. VR technology can improve the on-boarding experience for new employees significantly. Imagine a tour around the company, in multiple locations, across the world, with a speech of the CEO and various encounters with future peers? Or make your induction training in safety more attractive with VR technology like Simtars in Australia. Especially in an environment where employees are dispersed over many locations and countries, reality technology will be a powerful and cost effective tool. In addition it will  positively affect employee retention and productive.

VR and recruitment: a real experience

Another area for high impact application is recruitment. To attract talent, VR allows potential candidates to already experience the company from their home in an appealing high tech fashion. Reality technology can also provide candidates an immersive and engaging experience of the future work itself. A good example is the British Army. They created several virtual reality experiences for new recruits such as a mission in a Challenger 2 tank. Maybe less obvious and probably a bit further on the road is using reality technology in recruitment to actually assess candidates in virtual reality work situations. We have not yet been able to identify an organisation that already applies VR in this area, so if you are aware of a great example let us know.

Learning faster with VR

Probably the largest HR area for application of reality technology is learning. We already mentioned NASA, another example is Boeing using VR for training of pilots for the 787. BMW developed an AR training for their service engineers. This youtube video provides a good insight in how this works.There are many more examples of organisations using reality technology in training and it will not take long before studies will prove the positive effects on productivity and retention.

3. What about the cost?

So far many companies were hesitant to apply reality technology because of the complexity and extensive cost of implementation. In the 90’s one could easily spend 60K USD just for the basic equipment. Today an inexpensive VR Headset, a smartphone, an affordable 360 camera and content tooling are enough to not only enjoy, but also create VR content. There are today also easy accessible apps to help create content. Therefore the development, usage and deployment of VR applications in a business environment has become simple and affordable. Some companies choose to make and develop their own VR’s and others use one of the many providers in this field.

Time for HR to take charge and build a VR strategy!

Related articles from the HR Trend Institute:

10 HR Trends for 2017

2017 consumer trends and opportunities for HR

HR Trend Institute

The HR Trend Institute detects, follows and encourages smart and creative use of trends in the field of people and organisations, and also in adjacent areas. 

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About the Author: Frank Roebroek

Frank is senior partner of the HR Trend Institute and an independent consultant supporting HR innovation through ad- interim management, advice and coaching. Frank has an extensive experience in HR. He worked for Philips in several industries from consumer to healthcare, across multiple continents. In the USA he was Head of HR for North America leading and transforming the HR organization and supporting the business integrations for 30.000 employees. In Mergers and Acquisitions he was part of many major deals and integrations as deal lead. From 2011 till 2015 Frank led the design, set up and establishment of the Global HR Operations organization for Philips. His major fields of interest are HR Innovation and transformation to the next professional level by ad-interim management, consulting and team- or individual coaching. Frank is founder and owner of Roebroek Management Consultancy. More information on LinkedIn.