Virtual Reality in HR holds the potential to transform the future of work — from recruiting and onboarding to training, engagement and beyond. Commercially-available devices such as Oculus Rift are making virtual reality readily accessible and affordable. The number of businesses in the virtual reality space is booming, and according to estimates by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, VR will be a $150 billion industry by 2022.

Virtual reality, more commonly known as VR, is the computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional images, giving users — no matter where they're located — an immersive and realistic experience that connects at a deep sensory and cognitive level. VR is powerful because it feels real, which is why it's been used by NASA to train astronauts, airlines to train pilots and construction businesses to train on safety.

So let's take a look at some ways VR might be used to enhance your HCM strategy.

VR and Recruiting

VR is a great tool for screening candidates on skills needed for a position because recruiters can use VR to remotely assess a candidate's set of skills, according to HR Digest. This skills screening saves time and reduces the risk of hiring unqualified candidates.

VR also lets candidates understand the environment where they'd be working and the types of people they'd be working with. They can see what a typical day would be like and virtually meet potential colleagues. This lets both the candidate and HR more effectively screen for a good fit with the culture of the organization. "HR departments will see a decrease in turnover and increase in retention rates as they will be making stickier hires," says TechRadar

VR and Onboarding

The old joke is that new employees can't even find a bathroom on their first day. Onboarding can be made far more effective with VR. HR leaders can give new employees an immersive tour of their facilities, while introducing them to managers and colleagues, all from the comfort of the employee's home. According to an ADP action paper The Human Touch Drives Onboarding Success employee onboarding should cover the three Cs — connection, comfort and culture — to make it a positive experience for new hires. Compliance, orientation or training issues could also be addressed via VR onboarding. Not only would VR help new employees find the bathroom, it will help them through the entire onboarding process so they hit the ground running on their first day. Making the onboarding process more people-centric, rather than simply filling out paperwork and reading the employee manual, is key.

VR and Employee Engagement

Since VR feels so real — as it engages senses and minds — it can engage remote employees in more collaborative environments. Using immersive VR technology, businesses can implement realistic conferencing for teams around the world. VR can also enable team-building exercises that help everyone feel engaged, no matter where they're physically located. Everyone can read body language, hear tone of voice and have the feeling of a face-to-face exchange in a physical space. Management teams might leverage VR to hold retreats or regular social events in a shared virtual space to encourage closer communication and engagement between colleagues. None of these initiatives would require expensive, time-draining travel.

VR and Training

Training may be the most obvious use for VR right now. VR allows for three-dimensional simulations of work-related scenarios, whether it's being in space for NASA astronauts or interacting with a challenging customer for sales people. Instruction manuals and role playing exercises may be useful, but they can't match the immersive, learning environments VR creates.

VR training isn't just more effective, it can save businesses money, too. You organization will find that it spends less on training supplies, and using a simulation lets employees easily practice over and over again. These methods won't erase the need for other training methods, but will serve as a valuable supplement. Think of safety training that feels real but nobody risks getting hurt.

It's clear the potential uses of virtual reality for HR are evolving quickly. The best way forward for HR leaders is to monitor VR trends, find vendors who meet your needs and test VR's potential with pilot projects. Once the pilots prove to be successful, you can then scale up and implement the technology across your organization.

Take a 360 degree virtual tour of ADP's Innovation Lab, using just your phone, computer or a VR headset, at www.adp.com/virtual.

Tags: HCM Strategy Digital Trends