Virtual Reality: The Future of HR Development

The year 2020 will undoubtedly be one to remember… perhaps it will even be the start of a new phase in the digital revolution. We’ve seen widespread remote work, virtual events, virtual tours… even virtual healthcare! But what about digital HR development? Can it work? The hospitality industry is notorious for having a high employee turnover rate; this is in part due to conventional practices and slow adaptation. It’s no secret that retaining staff is a major challenge. Industries like the trades sector are quickly adopting new Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to strengthen their workforce. What can the hospitality industry learn from these industries?

Tech expert Melissa Hardy-Giles, Co-Founder and CEO of VR company, Origin Recruitment, says, “the main issue VR can address [in workforce development] is communicating company values, expectations, and worksite conditions effectively and clearly… it allows [job seekers] to answer if they’re fit for a job, it works as a pre-screening tool for recruitment and for training programs”. Behind the Kerten has taught us that sustainability is more than the triple bottom line, sustainability is rooted in the teams that bring your brand to life; so, leveraging innovative technologies, like VR, to implement new workforce solutions is a valuable investment.

Breaking the Stigma

The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. To name a few, there is a lack of awareness about the diverse opportunities in hospitality; roles in hospitality are often perceived as short-term, and job seekers have unrealistic expectations of careers in hospitality. Research shows that 29.1% of hospitality students leave the hospitality industry while completing their studies and 32% of hospitality graduates do not intend to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. Not surprisingly, it was found that hospitality management graduates believe they had an unrealistic vision of what their career path would be; revealing the importance of identifying opportunities and setting clear expectations.

The key to building a stronger hospitality and tourism workforce starts with education. Individuals who are well suited to careers in hospitality need to be shown that this is a viable career option, not just a short term or dead-end ‘student job’ as it is sometimes perceived. VR is an effective tool that can increase the awareness and appeal of careers in tourism amongst youth and prospective job seekers. Not only can the technology raise awareness about hospitality careers, but it also provides a unique experience that captivates a potential future workforce and promotes excitement and intention. Destination marketing studies have shown that experiencing a VR tour in comparison to watching a video or browsing a website is much more effective in influencing positive perceptions and booking intentions. The same can apply to career marketing. By virtually transporting the viewer into the role, employers can attract informed job seekers with high interest and more realistic expectations. In addition to recruitment and skills training, VR can be a valuable tool for cultural connection and education.

Virtual Reality as a Means for Cultural Awareness Training

Hospitality companies often employ a diverse workforce from across the globe. Cross-cultural communication is not only important for interaction with travelers but also internally. Diversity and inclusion will always be an imperative part of growth and sustainability, especially within an industry that relies heavily on international markets. Technologies like VR provide an interactive and highly engaging approach to cultural awareness training. By using storytelling, cultural awareness training can become an experience instead of a lesson – a form of experiential learning that is much more impactful. In this way, VR technology prepares employees with the understanding and knowledge to better connect with their team, partners and consumers.

Bottom Line

Providing an experience to job seekers effectively and clearly is imperative and this is something that virtual reality and technology more broadly can address. Ensuring more resilient workforces starts with making sure that prospective employees know your values and are prepared for the jobs they take on. This begins with helping people understand what they’re good at and strategically matching them to their role. The speed of technological change is rapid which makes leaning into this technology not only helpful but necessary – and this contributes to building resilience within your workforce.


To learn more about this topic, listen to our full discussion with Origin Recruitment Co-Founder and CEO, Melissa Hardy-Giles. Behind the Kerten podcast Ep.3: Building Resilient Workforces – The Future of HR Development. 


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